Child Catcher

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Child Catcher
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang character
The Child Catcher.jpg
First appearanceChitty Chitty Bang Bang
Portrayed byRobert Helpmann

The Child Catcher is a character in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and in the later stage musical adaptation. The character did not appear in the original Ian Fleming book. The Child Catcher is employed by Baron Bomburst and Baroness Bomburst to snatch and imprison children on the streets of Vulgaria.

In the 1968 film, he was played by ballet dancer Robert Helpmann. Whilst filming one of the scenes where the Child Catcher rides his horse and carriage out of the village, the Cage/Carriage uptilted with Helpmann on board. Dick Van Dyke recalls Helpmann being able to swing out of the carriage and literally skip across the crashing vehicle. According to Van Dyke, Helpmann did this with incredible grace and much like a dancer - which was Helpmann's original claim to fame.[citation needed]

In the theatrical version in London's West End, he has been played by Richard O'Brien, Wayne Sleep (another ballet dancer), and Stephen Gately amongst others and on Broadway, he was played by Kevin Cahoon. In the Australian theatrical version, he was played by Tyler Coppin who wrote and performs a solo show about Robert Helpmann called LyreBird (Tales of Helpmann).[citation needed]

In 2005, the Child Catcher was voted "the scariest villain in children's books",[1] even though the character does not appear in Fleming's book itself. In fact, Roald Dahl, co-author of the film version's screenplay, originated the Child Catcher (as well as almost all of the Vulgarian scenes).

In 2008, Entertainment Weekly called Helpmann's depiction of the Child Catcher one of the "50 Most Vile Movie Villains."[2]


  1. ^ "Childcatcher is scariest villain". BBC News. 9 May 2005.
  2. ^ "50 Most Vile Movie Villains". Entertainment Weekly. 2008. Retrieved 31 December 2013.