Raven (BBC TV series)
|Genre||Children's game show|
|Presented by||James Mackenzie|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||13 (10 regular, 3 spin offs)|
|No. of episodes||260|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original release||16 December 2002– 7 September 2010|
|Related shows||Raven: The Secret Temple
Raven: The Island
Raven: The Dragon's Eye
Raven is a multi-BAFTA-winning BBC Scotland children's adventure game show that aired on CBBC in the United Kingdom from 16 December, 2002 to 7 September, 2010, over the course of ten series, with three spin-offs. It was hosted by James Mackenzie in the title role, who conducts a group of children, known as warriors, over five days through a series of tasks and feats. At various stages in the adventure, the group loses the least successful warrior, until two go through to the final week to compete for the title of Ultimate Warrior.
The show features three groups of six warriors who compete in various challenges over the course of three (broadcast) weeks. Each group features for five days, and after the first day, the warrior with the least number of lives must face the Way of The Warrior. Only two warriors in each week go through to compete in the final week of the quest, where one becomes the Ultimate Warrior.
Each warrior starts out with a number of lives, represented by feathers on a standard. The number of lives was 7 from Series 1-3, and this changed to 9 lives from Series 4 onwards. Warriors also received symbolic emblems that follow them throughout their quest. Losing any challenge meant the loss of life, but these could be won back, by winning 7, later 9, gold rings. To lose all lives from a standard, meant the warrior was eliminated from the process.
At the end of Days 2-4 (Series 2-10), Days 1-4 (Series 1), and 5 in the final weeks, the warrior with the least number of lives and rings must face the Way of the Warrior, a complex and difficult series of obstacles that only four warriors, (Ishal, Varna, Worjo and Kinsa), have ever completed. Should a warrior reach the portal at the end of the Way of the Warrior, they will be admitted through to the next day of the quest, and the task must then fall upon the next warrior with the least number of lives and rings. This process continues until somebody is eliminated.
Raven (James Mackenzie) Originally from the Island of Alaunus, Raven is an ancient, immortal Scottish warlord and the warriors' guide throughout the quest; his name refers to his ability to shape-shift. He can read the warriors' thoughts, usually from the Raven's Eye in his staff of power, and he recaps what has happened previously on the quest, and both gives and takes away the warriors' lives from their standards. He has an elaborate style of speech, which has generated some catchphrases, including, "Are you ready? Then let the challenge... begin", and, "May the luck of the Raven's Eye be with you".
Nevar (Regular) Nageswara Rao (The Secret Temple): A mysterious figure who wears a black-hooded cloak and an iron mask, introduced in the second series and described as the enemy of all that is good and true, and Raven's arch enemy. The forging of the six symbols long ago, which brought sorcery back to Raven's homeland, also brought the scourge of Nevar who attempts to spread darkness once more. His sole aim is also to rule over Raven's homeland, and he has attempted this multiple times through freezing Raven's homeland in an icy grip of terror, which was a point of focus in Raven: The Secret Temple. All that can be seen of Nevar's true form is his eyes, which have red irises and red-pink, scorched skin around them. He is also responsible for the demons featuring heavily in the warrior's tasks in an attempt to impede their progress. He only appears in person in The Last Stand as Guardian of the Portal, where he does his best to stop the remaining warriors from reaching the portal. In Series 9 and 10's Last Stands, he has also shown he has the power of teleportation.
In Raven: The Island, Princess Erina was introduced as a childhood friend of Raven, along with her companion, a blue spirit named Haryad, that kept watch over the warriors safety and progress. Raven appeared in this series only in a guest capacity, mainly in scenes with another new character, the astronomer Cyrus. The history of Alaunus was, that Nevar had ruled the island with his dark magic for four years, making Staffs of Power from the Enchanted Oak to arm his demons, in order to stop the warriors from reaching the fortress. Nevar was once a normal human, no more than an upstart baron with a band of brigands as his followers, and considered no more than an irritation on Alaunus. However, he became twisted and corrupt when he stole the Enchanted Oak and used it to create a Staff of Power for himself; as a result, each time he uses his staff for evil, half of his remaining life-force is taken away, taking its toll on his mind and his body. His iron mask and his cloak hides his scarred, burnt face, marks given to him from a battle with Raven. Until the third series, his mask resembled many small pieces of metal covering his face, before becoming a full metal mask in the fourth series.
In Raven: The Secret Temple, Nevar followed Raven to a mysterious land far to the east after putting a dark spell on Raven's homeland and leaving it in a icy grip, frozen in his terror. Raven and the warriors traveled to the east to find the magical elixir, the waters that could break this spell. In this series, a new character Satyarani was introduced, and she acted as a guide to the warriors and as assistance to Raven throughout the course of this quest, in the journey to find The Secret Temple. At the conclusion of this series, Nevar is thought to have been slain, until the last ten seconds of the show, where he is shown to have survived the temple falling on him.
In Raven: The Dragon's Eye, Nevar's pursuit continues. Nevar tries to enter the Forgotten Kingdom to retrieve the mystical Dragon's Eye, which Raven and his warriors attempt to find first. The eye was said to wield great power that could be used for good or ill, and Raven and the warriors had to find it first to avoid it falling into the hands of Nevar. New character Ervan was introduced in this series, and he took on the role and persona of Raven's assistant and an occasional guide to the warriors, but his motivations and intentions were frequently in question and he changed sides regularly between Raven and Nevar. It appeared in the conclusion, that he was not on either's side and was working solely for his own purposes. Ervan was also exposed as the warrior who had traveled through the Forgotten Kingdom and wrote the journal detailing how to get through the land. Nevar was shown to be destroyed, but it was evident he survived due to his further appearances in the ninth and ten series of the main show.
Warriors are given four, five, six or seven-letter names composed from letters selected from their real names. Each warrior is given a standard with their lives and rings displayed upon it.
There are six emblems and colours to represent the warriors: a red outfit containing a sun, a beige outfit containing a cloud, a yellow outfit containing a mountain, a green outfit containing a tree, a blue outfit containing a wave, and a dark grey outfit containing a moon. The emblems were introduced from the second series. The first series featured no emblems, but colours: Mauve, Light Blue, Green, Black, Olive and Light Brown.
The designs of the emblems have varied and changed as the show has progressed, but have remained the same emblems. In the prologue to the seventh series, it was revealed that the symbols were "forged long ago, from gold, cooled in water drawn for the deepest loch" in order to vanquish the darkness that overshadowed the land. On completion of the final symbol, light and sorcery returned to the land before the evil Nevar appeared, who tried to return the land to darkness.
The winners from each series are known as an Ultimate Warrior. Their prize is a warrior's "heart's desire" - in certain cases this proved to be a holiday of some sort - and from the second series, the Ultimate Warrior was also presented with a Staff of Power and the three finalists all won a trophy.
The many challenges the warriors faced have varied over time and some challenges are used only in certain series, whereas some have featured in every series, i.e. Deep Loch, Leap of Faith, Riddle Bridge, and the Way of the Warrior. All the challenges in the quest test a variety of virtues, such as strength, agility, and teamwork, depending on the challenge. Warriors play challenges to win treasure rings, and should they fail the challenge, they will forfeit any rings gained in the challenge, as well as lose one of their lives. There were some exceptions for this rule, for example in Dragon's Roost, Dark Path, Pole Climb, Treetop Treasure, and others, warriors could keep any rings they collected during the challenge. But the overriding rule was that if they lost the challenge, they would definitely lose a life.
Way of the Warrior
The Way of the Warrior features in every series and was faced at the end of most days, used to test a warrior to the limits and fell upon the warrior with the fewest number of lives and rings on their standard at the end of the day, thereby being an elimination challenge. The heavily-padded warrior must stay to the golden pathway without falling or being hit by any of the sharp or pointed obstacles at any point. It consists of many obstacles designed to knock the warrior off the path, and the configuration consisted of swinging dummies, falling rocks being pushed by demons, a swinging gate, a swinging boulder carousel, a narrow beam with sharp objects and spikes falling down. The warriors then released a drawbridge to the next part of the challenge that consisted of a 3 shield section, sometimes with 4 shields, later changed to 3, followed by a spiky swinging barrel with golden ropes to crawl across. The last part of the challenge consisted of swinging blades/axes. From the third series onwards, gnashing jaws were adding to the end of the challenge. The victor would pass through the golden portal and would compete in the next day of the quest. The burden then fell upon the next warrior with the least amount of lives and rings. This process continues until one warrior is eliminated.
When the show's filming location changed to Aviemore in the eighth series, the challenge underwent major transformation. While the format remained essentially the same, it was livened up a bit, consisting of new obstacles such as a falling balance walkway releasing falling rocks, skull shields, and spinning sharp blades.
The pass rate for this challenge was not high, and only 4 warriors in history have ever completed the challenge. They are:
- Ishal (Series 2 Week 3 Day 4), leaving Dyasa to attempt the challenge. (Ishal repeated the challenge in the final week but failed at the boulder carousel)
- Varna (Series 2 Final Week Day 5), leaving Kinia to attempt the challenge.
- Worjo (Series 3 Final Week Day 5), leaving Brena to attempt the challenge.
- Kinsa (Series 4 Final Week Day 2), leaving Wenra to attempt the challenge.
No-one since Series 4 has completed the challenge. The closest to do so was Danil in Series 7, who, whilst crossing the final metal jaw just before the portal, grazed his leg against the side, and was eliminated from the quest, falling in third place.
The Last Stand
Introduced in the second series, this challenge originally consisted of the two warriors in first and second place faced each other to collect and assemble four components of a key from a battlefield and avoid being blasted by Nevar's lightning. Each warrior entered this challenge with however many lives they had on their standard at the end of the day, and being blasted would make them lose a life; they are eliminated if they lose all their lives. The winner is the first to use their constructed key to open the portal and go through to the next stage of the quest. A second round is then played with the loser of the first round racing against the warrior in third place. Only two warriors would pass through the portal to the next stage of the quest. This format of The Last Stand featured in the third series as well.
From the fourth series, the Last Stand was changed into an assault course for the three remaining warriors, their remaining lives and rings determining the relative time they are released from their starting cages. Once released from the starting cages the warriors retrieve a lever, they must then use this lever to knock down the inflatable objects that are in their way, after this the warriors must engage the lever into the slot which will vanquish the first demon that is stood before them. Once vanquishing the first demon the warriors must collect a circular disk, they must scale a wall and crawl under a framework maze before matching the symbols on the podium, this will allow them to pick up a cylinder containing symbols, which they must attach to rope; after climbing up a waterfall and sliding down with the cylinder, it must be placed correctly in the slot to activate the portal to escape. After one warrior has taken out all their demons, Nevar attempts to attack the two remaining warriors; when two warriors have gone through the portal, his next shot causes instant elimination to the remaining warrior. In the final, the first warrior to go through the portal wins and the remaining two are blasted by Nevar.
The challenge has undergone multiple changes and developments. From Series 5-7, warriors had to drag a key across an overhead maze to unlock a cage containing puzzle pieces, which are assembled to vanquish the demon in their path. Much of the rest of the challenge remained the same, except a cylinder of symbols replaced the circular disc.
The show's move to being filmed in Aviemore, meant that many of the original features of Castle Toward had gone from the show, and this included the Last Stand which appeared significantly more brighter and colourful than the bleakness of the challenge depicted from prior series. This time the challenge featured two large ramps to carry letters for a word puzzle (in Series 9 and 10, the word puzzle was changed to a shape puzzle forming a bridge that led to a shield.) The shield was depicted as protection from Nevar's fire, and only the emblems would destroy the demons in their path. After the ramp part, they faced a framework with ropes attached to form a maze to crawl through, followed by another two emblem shape pieces to collect each. There was then two diamond walls with a hand battering ram to smash through them, with the last two emblem shaped pieces beyond. A different ram hung from chains to burst open a final gate, after which the portal may be accessed. The warriors held the shield up towards Nevar to protect themselves as Nevar fired down at them, as they ran through the portal.
Production and Awards
The series was first produced by BBC Scotland in 2002. For the first seven series it was shot in the grounds of Castle Toward 8 miles (13 km) south-west of Dunoon, near Toward Point and the village of Toward. The production includes many CGI effects throughout, including the appearance and disappearance of objects and characters (including contestants), rapidly encroaching lava flows, burning targets and fizzing gases, and the zoomorphism of Raven in the title sequence. The show has won two BAFTAs for Best Children's Programme, in 2003 and 2006 for Series 1 and 4.
The first series in 2002 was executive produced by Nigel Pope who devised the format. Producer was Colin Nobbs who stayed on as the Executive Producer for Series 2 and 3. Matthew Napier produced 6 series in total, from Series 2 to 7. Series 8 to 10 were produced by Dougie Napier, who directed the previous two series. The set and games designers are Tom Barker and Liz Barron, who created the look and helped format the show as well as devising most of the challenges. The directors have changed between series:
|1||Bob Harvey, Colin Nobbs|
|2, 5||Bill McLeod|
|3, 4||Paul Hineman|
|6, 7||Dougie Napier|
|8||John Payne (Weeks 1 - 3)
Dougie Napier (Final Week)
|9, 10||Dougie Napier|
Series 8, which introduced a number of changes to the programme, was produced under a slightly different production crew, including the director and editors; filming moved to Aviemore being based at Lagganlia Centre for Outdoor Education at Kincraig, rather than the previous location of Castle Toward.
- Detailed under "Any other information". "James Mackenzie, actor, Casting Call Pro".
- IMDb. "Raven (2002)".