Geoffrey Bayldon RIP

Creature From The Pit

The actor Geoffrey Bayldon has died at the age of 93

Geoffrey Bayldon was best known for his portrayal of Catweazle, the eccentric 11th-century wizard who was the star of the LWT children’s series produced in the early 1970’s, as well as playing the Crowman in the Jon Pertwee series Worzel Gummidge.

Bayldon was considered for the role of the Doctor twice. First when the series was commissioned in 1963. He turned the offer down, worried about playing such an old character and not wanting to commit to the then unknown series. When Hartnell left the role in 1966, Bayldon was again the frame to play The Doctor, but once more decided against joining the programme. It was not until 1979 that he eventually did appear in the series when he played Organon the astrologer in the Tom Baker story The Creature from the Pit

Bayldon was born in Leeds in 1923. He joined the Royal Air Force and had a period studying architecture, before fulfilling his dream of becoming an actor, training at the Old Vic Theatre School. He was a regular face on British television from 1950’s onwards appearing in Sword of Freedom, The Case of the Frightened Lady, An Age of Kings, The Victorians, The Massingham Affair, The Woman in White, Z Cars and The Adventures of Robin Hood where he played Count de Severne.

In 1970 he accepted the role of Catweazle, first appearing on Sundays afternoons in February 1970. It was a role that would endear him to a generation of children. The character, an eccentric medieval wizard trapped in the 20th century, amused and delighted both adults and children alike. In 2010 Bayldon spoke about the role. It was a new idea, at the time of boring kitchen-sink drama. Everything was serious, working-class, and the idea of magic didn’t even occur, let alone humour.

With the two together I thought the world would be mine!

In 1979 he entertained another generation of kids when he took the role of The Crowman in the Southern TV adaptation of Worzel Gummidge and in 1995 played Magic Grandad, an eccentric who took his grandchildren back in time to see historical events, a concept similar to the original premise of Doctor Who.

He remained a well-known character actor working well into his eighties, with appearances in Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, All Creatures Great and Small, Blott on the Landscape, Juliet Bravo, Devenish, Fort Boyard, Casualty, Heartbeat, Waking the Dead, My Family and New Tricks.

Geoffrey Bayldon died on 10th May 2017. His partner Alan Rowe died in 2000.

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