The Box of Delights is a children’s novel written by the English Author, John Masefield and was published in 1935. The BBC’s 1984 television adaptation formed the central part of their Children’s TV schedule in the run up to Christmas in that year. Starring former Dr Who Patrick Troughton as Cole Hawlins, and Sir Robert Stephens as the villainous Abner Brown. Devin Stanfield played young hero, Kay Harker.
In a nutshell, Kay Harker is travelling home on the train at Christmas time. In so doing he gets mixed up in the machinations of Abner Brown and his cronies in their quest to own a magic box which enables its owner to shrink, fly and to travel into the past. Of course the current owner of the box, Cole Hawlins – an ancient Punch and Judy man, is keen to avoid Brown obtaining the box. He therefore entrusts the box to Kay. After many trials and tribulations – an unbelieving policeman; a car that can fly and best of all, Nick Berry as a rat – good triumphs over evil as Kay eventually prevails against Brown. If it wasn’t a Children’s story, I’d call it a rollicking good adventure.
I love The Box of Delights. Of all the Children’s TV series from the 1980’s, it sums up Christmas the best for me. The snow and the Christmas music / imagery is extremely evocative. If the special effects look a little clunky from our twenty-first century perspective, well too bad, to a greater or lesser extent its part of the charm.
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