Saturday 3 May 2008 12:40pm – 1:20am
In this one off special for ITV3 we unlock the mysteries behind Cadfael, the ITV series from the early 1990s written by the author Ellis Peters. Starring Sir Derek Jacobi, Cadfael was a breakout hit for ITV centring on the strange world of a retired crusader disappointed in love, now a herbalist in charge of the gardens of Shrewsbury Abbey. Brother Cadfael (Jacobi) is called on to solve murders and other crimes in and around Shrewsbury, Shropshire, in the border country where England meets Wales. The programme traces the journey from the books to the radio plays and to the screen adaptation, which brought the medieval magic to life.
The one-off documentary will transmit as a part of ITV3’s Cadfael Weekend, which will also show classic episodes from the series – highlighting some of the many mysteries which the monk tackled in the course of his career.
Using interviews with historical and literary experts, as well as the cast of the TV series including Sir Derek Jacobi, the programme will decode the backstory of the Cadfael universe for the ITV3 audience and explore how the fictional Cadfael character and the true historical heritage of the region complement each other, throughout the twenty novels.
The programme traces early adaptations of Cadfael and examine the radio portrayals of Glyn Houston and Philip Madoc before concentrating on Sir Derek Jacobi’s television adaptation through interviews with the cast and crew. The programme analyses the author’s world-view, which she wove into the fabric of her novels. Perhaps her most telling message – that everyone should know his or her place in the world – is driven home most explicitly in Saint Peter’s Fair, where a merchant’s daughter entertains the dream of marrying above her and nearly loses her life for this presumption – and finally marries very happily the heroic young shoemaker who saved her life.
The series was filmed on location with Hungary understudying for Shropshire, and the documentary visits the medieval sets as well as those in Shropshire including Stokesay Castle a beautiful perfectly preserved 13th-century fortified manor house – the best example of its type in England.