Ace of Wands
|Ace of Wands|
|Genre||Children's Television, Science fiction, Contemporary fantasy|
|Created by||Trevor Preston|
|Directed by||Pamela Lonsdale
|Theme music composer||Andy Bown|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||3|
|No. of episodes||46|
|Running time||c. 25 mins|
|Original channel||ITV Network|
|Original release||29 July 1970– 29 November 1972|
Ace of Wands is a fantasy-based British children's television show broadcast on ITV between 1970 and 1972, created by Trevor Preston and Pamela Lonsdale and produced by Thames Television. The title, taken from the name of a Tarot card describes the principal character, called "Tarot" (played by Michael MacKenzie) who combined stage magic with supernatural powers. Tarot has a pet Owl named Ozymandias, played by Fred Owl. The series was later replaced by The Tomorrow People in 1973.
Ace of Wands ran for two seasons of thirteen episodes and a third season of twenty. Many, if not all, of the first 26 episodes are believed to have been wiped, although the final season is intact. In the first two series Tarot is assisted by Sam Maxstead (Tony Selby), a reformed convict and Lillian Palmer known by her nickname, Lulli (Judy Loe), an orphan. Lulli shares a telepathic link with Tarot, which enables them to communicate over great distances. After having to leave the programme because of prior commitments, in the final series this pair were replaced by brother and sister Chas (Roy Holder), a photographer, and Mikki (Petra Markham), a female journalist, who have very similar roles, she also sharing a telepathic link with Tarot. A character named Mr Sweet (Donald Layne-Smith) who runs an antiquarian bookshop often has the answer to Tarot's questions. Sweet is based in a university for the last series. Mr. Stabs, played by Russell Hunter, is defeated by Ace of Wands's lead Tarot, yet returns, again played by Hunter, in an episode of the anthology series Shadows. The character's final appearance was in Dramarama, this time portrayed by David Jason. However, the Dramarama story was a prequel to the previous ones.
A DVD of all existing episodes was released by Network UK in July 2007 and features a new documentary in 3 parts by Classic TV enthusiasts and experts Andrew Pixley and Simon Coward.
Series one (29 July to 21 October 1970)
- "One and One and One are Four" - 3 episodes. Tarot is on the trail of a cure for paralysis which in the wrong hands, those of Madame Midnight (Hildegarde Neil) and accomplice Teddy Talk (Michael Standing), is a formidable weapon. Also - Frederick Peisley as Prof Ekdorf, David Prowse as Kal, Tony Caunter as Six, Daphne Heard as Ma Epps, Bruce Boa as Mr. America and Jan Conrad as Mr. Russia.
- "The Mind Robbers" - 4 episodes. Old adversary Senor Zandor (Vernon Dobtcheff) has kidnapped two Government ministers and Tarot traces them to a mysterious house where he meets Fat Boy (Michael Wynne) and some strange creatures. Also - Sheelah Wilcox as Miss Jelicoe, Geoffrey Lumsden as Sir William, Terry Walsh as Castor and Alan Chuntz as Pollux.
- "Now You See It, Now You Don't" - 2 episodes. A bank robbery leads to a villain with delusions of grandeur in a houseboat filled with computers and Nazis. Christopher Benjamin as Falk, Kevin Stoney as Bank Manager, Tim Curry as a Cashier, Ray Barron as Macready, Alan Tucker as Gaston and Billy Cornelius as a Guard.
- "The Smile" - 4 episodes. Master art thief Tun-Ju (Willoughby Goddard) and accomplice Mrs Kite (Dorothy Reynolds) plan to steal the Mona Lisa. Also - John Barron as Bartlett Bonnington, Reg Lye as Digger Farmer, Patrick McAlinney as Sir Patrick Landau, Diana King as Lady Landau and Tom Gan as Japanese bodyguard
Series two (21 July to 13 October 1971)
- "Seven Serpents, Sulphur and Salt" - 3 episodes. Mr Stabs (Russell Hunter), an evil magician plans with the help of Polandi (Harriet Harper) and servant Luko (Ian Trigger) to steal the missing segment of the Secret Seven Serpents from Tarot. Also - Jack Woolgar as Charlie Postle and Llewellyn Rees as Mr. Christopher.
- "Joker" - 3 episodes. Tarot investigates why children suddenly go berserk and meets the fiendish Uncle Harry (Dermot Tuohy) and his strange troupe of travelling entertainers. Also - Carmen Munroe as The Queen, Roy Holder as The Jack, Walter Sparrow as The King, George Waring as The Headmaster, Sheila Raynor as The Headmistress and Lorna Heilbron as Miss Pascoe
- "Nightmare Gas" - 3 episodes. Thalia (Isobel Black) and brother Dalbiac (Jonathan Newth) steal the deadly hallucinatory gas H23, a gas which causes a deep sleep and vivid nightmares from which the victim dies of shock after 23 minutes. Also - Laurence Carter as Dr Winthrop, Lewis Wilson as Police Sergeant and Alan Chuntz as Trooper
- "The Eye of Ra" - 4 episodes. Ceribraun (Oscar Quitak) decides to steal a huge diamond called the Eye of Ra which it is claimed will turn people into chalk and tracing him, Tarot is prisoner of a talking computer who plans to use giant chess pieces to crush him to death. Also - Edward Jewesbury as Mr Quince, Nicholas Smith as Fredericks, Charles Morgan as the Computer.
Series three (19 July to 29 November 1972)
- "The Meddlers" - 3 episodes. New assistants Chas and Mikki live in a flat overlooking a street market which is under a curse and involved in this is Mockers (Barry Lineham) the local Prophet of Doom. Also - Paul Dawkins as Dove, Michael Standing as Spoon, Norma West as Chauffeuse and Stefan Kalipha as Drum.
- "The Power of Atep" - 4 episodes. Strange dreams after a meeting with medium John Pentacle (Sebastian Graham-Jones) leads Tarot and companions to Egypt where in Atep's tomb he encounters a High Priest (Michael Mulcaster) and double, Quabel. Also - Michael Rose as a Tramp, Joe Dunlop as Fergus Wilson.
- "Peacock Pie" - 3 episodes. Mr Peacock (Brian Wilde) has the irresistible power of suggestion where torn strips of paper can become bank notes and people do things they do not want to do. Also - Jenny McCracken as Young Mrs. MacFadyean, Dorothy Frere as Mrs Macfadyean, Valerie Van Ost as the Manageress.
- "Mama Doc" - 3 episodes. When one of Mr Sweet's colleagues vanishes, Tarot traces him to a bizarre Doll's Hospital where Mama Doc (Pat Nye) and assistant Bobby (Michael Mundell) change real people into dolls. Also - Robert Grange as Prof. Dorian, Wendy Hamilton as Posy Peagram, Ivor Roberts as Dr. MacDonald.
- "Sisters Deadly" - 3 episodes. Chas returns from a photo assignment with no memory of the assignment or that he robbed a village post office, which leads Tarot into a plot to kidnap a NATO Commander-in-Chief. Henrietta Rudkin as Mathilda Edginton, Bartlett Mullins as Postmaster, Sylvia Coleridge as Letty Edgington, James Bree as The Major.
- "The Beautiful People" - 4 episodes. Two beautiful girls Dee (Susan Glanville) and Emm (Vivian Heilbron) refuse Mikki entrance to a small town fete, which leads Tarot into an investigation of extraterrestrials with strange powers. Also - Edward Hammond as Jay, Kathleen Sainsbury as an Elderly Woman.
- Williams, John, Ace of Wands (1970–72), BFI ScreenOnline, retrieved 22 February 2013
- Archived copy of the official Ace of Wands website. aceofwands.net is no longer valid
- Details and review of the series and recent British DVD release at Mondo Esoterica
- Classic cult television theme song lyrics: Ace of Wands
- Ace of Wands at the Internet Movie Database
- Ace of Wands at TV.com
- Review at Refracted Input