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Box of Delights a real treat for all (1985)

1985-12-19 Age.jpg


APPEALING Christmas TV specials for children which go beyond Scrooge. Santa and lost Christmas trees are sadly thin on the ground.

The Box of Delights (4.30pm Monday-Wednesday on Channel 9) is an outstanding Christmas presentation from the BBC, based on a little-known novel by John Masefield and structured as a three-hour mini-series for family viewing.

Acting and production excellence can be assumed In BBC drama; and this haunting series includes some impressive use of chromakey to cover the Masefield magic.

The Box of Delights is in the same dream fantasy stream as Alice In Wonderland, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, and Pinocchio. The two animal-human villains who provide a layer of malevolence are similar to the Cat and the Fox who dog Pinocchio and tempt him to stray.

Kay Harker, the hero of The Box Of Delights, is pluckier and sturdier than Pinocchio. Kay is a British schoolboy of the 1930s, old enough to travel alone to the country for Christmas, but young enough to retain his sense of wonder.

Kay's sense of curiosity, and his natural kindness, make him a proper mark for a distressed ancient magician threatened by the "new magic" of a pack of hungry wolves in human guise.

Patrick Troughton, a former Doctor Who, brings crusty sympathy to the role of Cole Rawlings, the elderly tramp who hauls a Punch and Judy show on his back — and who can work magic and fly.

Enchantment, fantasy, Imagination, magic: a phoenix rises from the embers of a country-house grate; a white horse, silver-bridled, stamps impatiently in the snow; a gentle donkey carries old Cole to safety up a steep mountain path; Kay flies on horseback to the camp of King Arthur — this is the stuff of children's fantasy, BBC-TV quality, and Christmas.

If the dialogue sometimes is so British as to be unclear to young Australian viewers, the magic of the visuals and the strength of the intriguing story will win over all. Not to be missed.

Caption: Davin Stanfield (as Kay Harker) meets ancient magician Cole Hawkins (Patrick Troughton) in 'The Box Of Delights', Channel 9.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Morris, Jill (1985-12-19). Box of Delights a real treat for all. The Age .
  • MLA 7th ed.: Morris, Jill. "Box of Delights a real treat for all." The Age [add city] 1985-12-19. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Morris, Jill. "Box of Delights a real treat for all." The Age, edition, sec., 1985-12-19
  • Turabian: Morris, Jill. "Box of Delights a real treat for all." The Age, 1985-12-19, section, edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Box of Delights a real treat for all | url= | work=The Age | pages= | date=1985-12-19 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=17 October 2018 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Box of Delights a real treat for all | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=17 October 2018}}</ref>