Cadfael (TV series)

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Format Mystery
Starring Sir Derek Jacobi
Michael Culver
Peter Copley
Sean Pertwee
Julian Firth
Mark Charnock
Terrence Hardiman
No. of series 4
No. of episodes 13
Producer(s) ITV Central
Running time 75 minutes
Original channel ITV
Original run 29 May 1994 – 28 December 1998

Cadfael is the name given to the TV series of The Cadfael Chronicles adaptations produced by British television company ITV Central between 1994 and 1998. The series was broadcast on the ITV network in the UK, and starred Sir Derek Jacobi as the medieval detective.



There were a total of thirteen episodes in the series.[1]

Episode list[edit]

Series Episode Title Book Original airdate Director Writer(s)
1 101 One Corpse Too Many 2 29 May 1994 Graham Theakston Russell Lewis
1 102 The Sanctuary Sparrow 7 5 June 1994 Graham Theakston Russell Lewis
1 103 The Leper of Saint Giles 5 12 June 1994 Graham Theakston Paul Pender
1 104 Monk's Hood 3 19 June 1994 Graham Theakston Russell Lewis
2 201 The Virgin in the Ice 6 26 December 1995 Malcolm Mowbray Russell Lewis
2 202 The Devil's Novice 8 18 August 1996 Herbert Wise Christopher Russell
2 203 A Morbid Taste for Bones 1 25 August 1996 Richard Stroud Christopher Russell
3 301 The Rose Rent 13 12 August 1997 Richard Stroud Christopher Russell
3 302 Saint Peter's Fair 4 19 August 1997 Herbert Wise Russell Lewis
3 303 The Raven in the Foregate 12 26 August 1997 Ken Grieve Simon Burke
4 401 The Holy Thief 19 23 June 1998 Ken Grieve Ben Rostul
4 402 The Potter's Field 17 23 December 1998 Mary McMurray Christopher Russell
4 403 The Pilgrim of Hate 10 28 December 1998 Ken Grieve Richard Stoneman

Episode descriptions[edit]

Series I (1994)[edit]

  • One Corpse Too Many was the first Cadfael book to be adapted for television by Carlton Media for distribution world wide in 1994. It was directed by Graham Theakson, the screenplay was by Russell Lewis, and the cast featured Sean Pertwee as Hugh Beringar, Christian Burgess as Adam Courcelle, and Michael Grandage as King Stephen. The series was filmed mostly in Hungary. The adaptation for One Corpse Too Many stuck closely to the original novel, with only minor plot or script deviations to cater to the different medium.[2]
  • The Sanctuary Sparrow was the second Cadfael story to be adapted for television. It was produced in Britain by Central for ITV in 1994 as a 75-minute episode. It was mostly filmed on location in Hungary, starred Sir Derek Jacobi as Cadfael and featured Sean Pertwee as Sheriff Hugh Beringar, Steven Mackintosh as Liliwin, and Sara Stephens as Rannilt.
  • The Leper of Saint Giles was the third Cadfael book to be adapted for television by Carlton Media for distribution world wide in 1994. It was slightly out of sequence as two earlier books in the series were filmed as later episodes. The adaptation stuck fairly closely to the original novel. The part of Joscelin Lucy was played by Jonathan Firth, brother of Colin Firth. Iveta de Massard was played by Tara FitzGerald, Sarah Badel played Avice of Thornbury, Jamie Glover played Simon, and John Bennett played Lazarus. In Series I, Heribert is the abbot, played by Peter Copley, while in the novel of this title, Radulfus has been the Abbot for nearly a year.
  • Monk's Hood was the fourth to be adapted for television by Carlton Media for distribution world wide in 1994. It was out of sequence as two later books in the series preceded it on the screen. The television adaptation for Monk's Hood stuck fairly closely to the original novel.

Series II (1995–1996)[edit]

  • The Virgin in the Ice was the first episode in the second series in the Cadfael series by Central Television. The plot of the episode differed more than most from the original novel. The action was moved from Ludlow to Cadfael's "home" abbey of Shrewsbury; Brother Elyas's part was replaced by that of Cadfael's young and callow assistant in the herb gardens, Brother Oswin, and extra plot elements were introduced to explain the presence of the brigands and the final unmasking of the murderer.
  • The Devil's Novice was adapted by Central Television for ITV, starring Derek Jacobi as Cadfael, Christien Anholt as Meriet, Julian Glover as Leoric, and Louisa Millwood-Haigh as Isouda/Isobel. The TV adaptation is largely faithful to the book, with a few changes: Some proper names are changed to sound more modern: "Nigel" becomes Tristan (Patrick Toomey); "Roswitha" becomes Rosanna (Chloë Annett) and "Isouda" becomes Isobel; the name of Meriet's family and his father's manor is changed from "Aspley" to Ashby. There is an extended prologue showing Clemence's (Ian Reddington) overnight stay at Aspley, where he alienates everyone with his arrogant and patronizing manner, except Rosanna, who flirts with him shamelessly. Brother Mark's role in the novel is fulfilled by Cadfael's earnest assistant, Brother Oswin (Mark Charnock). Hugh Beringar (Eoin McCarthy) travels out of Shrewsbury, leaving his less-subtle deputy, Sergeant Warden (Albie Woodington), in charge, who repeatedly clashes with Cadfael over the solution to Clemence's murder. Under pressure from Canon Eluard (Ian McNeice), Warden is all too eager to condemn first Harald (John Dallimore), and then Meriet, for the crime. Janyn (Daniel Betts) is caught as he is trying to flee the Abbey, confesses, and is last seen being marched to gaol, to await execution.
  • A Morbid Taste for Bones was the seventh Cadfael book to be adapted for television, very much out of sequence, by Carlton Media for distribution worldwide. It was first shown in the UK on 26 July 1996. The episode starred Derek Jacobi as Brother Cadfael, Michael Culver as Prior Robert, and Anna Friel as Sioned. The television episode makes some changes, including secondary characters and proper names. Brother John and Annest are not included, leaving only one set of young lovers for the viewer to follow. The tension between the Welsh villagers and the English monastics is played up considerably, and the acquisition of St. Winifrede is made more dangerous thereby. To that end, the naive and charming Father Huw is recharacterised as the suspicious and rather grubby Father Ianto, who opposes the saint's removal and castigates the monks for haggling over her bones as if she were a bone at a butcher's stall. Bened the smith, while retaining his name, also loses much of his openhearted good nature, being both a suspicious rival of Rhisiart's and a vehement accuser of the monks themselves. In the climax of the adaptation, Brother Columbanus' confession is drawn out by less supernatural means than in the novel. Instead of being hoodwinked by Sioned in the dark, Columbanus confesses to a fevered figure of his own imagination. He is egged on to this by Cadfael, who pretends to see a figure of light bearing down upon them as they keep their vigil in St. Winifrede's church. Sioned's part is to stay hidden as a witness, but when Columbanus relates with what joy he struck down her father in the saint's name, Sioned loses control and flies at him, with disastrous consequences as Columbanus realizes that he has been tricked. Sioned's lover, renamed from Engelard to Godwin, appears to defend Sioned, and Colombanus's accidental death occurs as in the novel. However, Columbanus' own motives are a good deal more ambiguous in the television adaptation. He innocently denies any ambition on his own part to be "the youngest head under a mitre," and his actions appear to stem from religious fervor and criminal insanity, rather than from a cold, calculated pass at fame. Otherwise, the episode remains primarily faithful to the text, with the necessary exception of being well into Abbott Radulfus' tenure at the abbey, instead of introducing the series.

Series III (1997)[edit]

  • The Rose Rent was adapted into a television program as part of the Brother Cadfael series by Central for ITV. It filmed on location in Hungary and starred Sir Derek Jacobi as Cadfael, Kitty Aldridge as Judith, and Tom Mannion as Niall Bronzesmith.[3][4] The adaptation makes some changes from the book. The most significant change is that Miles (Crispin Bonham-Carter) is motivated not by greed, but by secret love for his cousin, and first attacks the rose bush to convince her to let go of her devotion to her deceased husband. Another change is that Cadfael gives the young wife a potion to ease her terminally ill husband's pain, warning her that too much will kill him; in the next scene, the man is dead, implying a mercy killing. In the book, there is no such implication. The husband dies of his illness three years before the novel opens, with no suggestion that Cadfael or the widow acted to hasten his end.

Series IV (1998)[edit]

  • The Pilgrim of Hate was adapted by Central for ITV as the last episode of the fourth season of Brother Cadfael. Sometimes referred to as a "maladaptation," this episode bears almost no resemblance to the novel. In this version, a well-aged corpse is found in the baggage of the pilgrims on St. Winifred's day, and its identity, not the murder of a faraway knight, becomes the subject of the mystery. Matthew and Ciaran are brothers, pointing fingers as to who is responsible for their father's death. In this adaptation Matthew turns out to be the villain. Crippled Rhun, far from being one of Cadfael's most promising future novices, confirms Father Abbot's suspicions that he is only faking his condition to earn the charity of those around him; his sister Melangell has been forced by guilt to wait on him hand and foot, even stealing to support their needs. "Only Cadfael," says one cynical reviewer, "is still interested in the truth, even if it disarranges the plans of any of these unsympathetic characters."[5] Filmed on location in Hungary, this episode starred Sir Derek Jacobi as Cadfael. It aired on 28 December 1998, and was the last of Ellis Peters' novels to be adapted for the screen.[6]

Home Media[edit]

All thirteen episodes have been released on DVD.

Acorn Media released audio versions of the Series I episodes with dialogue and music taken from the actual audio tracks and with linking narration.


  1. ^ IMDB entry for Cadfael
  2. ^ "Cadfael (tv series 1994-1996) The Sanctuary Sparrow". Internet Movie Data Base. 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Pratt, Doug (2004). Doug Pratt's DVD: Movies, Television, Music, Art, Adult, And More!. UNET 2 Corporation. pp. 211–212. ISBN 1932916008. 
  4. ^ "The Cadfael Collection DVD". Retrieved 7 August 2008. 
  5. ^ "Mystery!: Cadfael" on IMDB. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
  6. ^ "The Cadfael Collection DVD". Retrieved 7 August 2000.

External links[edit]