The Demon Headmaster

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For the television adaptation, see The Demon Headmaster (TV series).
The front cover of The Demon Headmaster.

The Demon Headmaster is a series of books by Gillian Cross which were later adapted as a television series starring Terrence Hardiman in the title role and Frances Amey as Dinah.

The title character is a strange being with the powers of hypnosis and a desire to take over the world, as he believes it will be better under his ordered rule. He has piercing light green eyes, which he normally hides behind dark-tinted glasses - removing these in order to hypnotise his victim(s).

Very little about the Demon Headmaster or his background is revealed in the books. His name is never revealed; he is referred to only as 'the Headmaster' both in the books and on television, except when he takes on an alias - such as the Computer Director in The Prime Minister's Brain, and on each occasion he uses a title rather than a name.

Reading order[edit]


The Demon Headmaster[edit]

First Published in 1982.[1]

Dinah Glass moves in with Lloyd and Harvey Hunter and at first does not like them. Soon she discovers that at her new school, the Headmaster is very strange and she finds herself saying things like, "I think the Headmaster is a marvellous man and this is the best school I've ever been to". With the help of her new friends, SPLAT, the children at the school who are immune to the Demon Headmaster's hypnotic powers, she successfully stops the Headmaster's plot to hypnotise the country through the Eddy Hair Television Show and she gets adopted by the Hunters. This became the first three episodes of the first series of the television adaptation.

The Prime Minister's Brain[edit]

First published in 1985[2]

Dinah wins a place in the final of a computer competition, and she and SPLAT go to the finals. Little does she realise that the computer competition is a plot by the Demon Headmaster to take over the world, by hacking into the Prime Minister's computer (The Prime Minister's Brain) and hypnotizing the Prime Minister, thus allowing him to meet the other world leaders and gain control of them himself. This became the last three episodes of the first series of the television adaptation. (Later republished as The Demon Headmaster and the Prime Minister's Brain following the success of the television series.)

The Revenge of the Demon Headmaster[edit]

First published in 1994 as "Hunky Parker is Watching You" [3]

When Ingrid turns up at a SPLAT meeting she is raving about Hunky Parker, a new TV show. It's the latest craze, she says, and soon everyone will be hooked. The other SPLAT members disagree until Ingrid shows them her Hunky video, which Dinah eventually realises is due to subliminal messages in the tape. Tracking the source of Hunky Parker merchandise, SPLAT learns that it has been created by the Demon Headmaster, attempting to trigger riots for new merchandise that he can use to exert his control over the populace.

The Demon Headmaster Strikes Again[edit]

First published in 1996.[4]

Dinah's father is headhunted for a new job at the Biogenetic Research Centre, but little do they know that the Demon Headmaster is the director. This time his lust for power sees him meddling with evolution itself. He has created an Evolution Accelerator: a machine to speed up the evolution process and produce the perfect human, beginning with the development of a fast-growing poisonous creeper that attacks Lloyd. But for this, he needs Dinah's DNA - combining it with a lizard to create Eve, a human/lizard hybrid who possesses Dinah's intellect but lacks her emotions - and then put her into terrible danger, pitting her against Eve to test his theories. This became series two of the television adaptation.

The Demon Headmaster Takes Over[edit]

First published 1997[5]

When the army starts dismantling the research centre, Dinah contacts Professor Claudia Rowe, who's an expert on botanical sciences and has expressed an interest in the creeper. Then weird things start to happen. Libraries start closing and their books are taken away. Telephones stop working, and there is no internet access. People start talking like robots, even Claudia Rowe, and more and more of the population seem to be wearing strange badges. Dinah's search leads her to the university where she finds the mysterious Director developing "Hyperbrain", a computer with superhuman intelligence and deadly potential. SPLAT swiftly realises that, although the original Headmaster was killed when he fell into the Evolution Accelerator, the machine still recorded his DNA and was thus able to create a clone, lacking the original's memories but retaining his lust for control. This became the third and final series of the television adaptation.

Facing the Demon Headmaster[edit]

First published 2002[6]

The new club Purple is the place to go - if you can get in - and Mandy's cousin, Ellie, persuades Dinah and her friends to come along too. The man everyone wants to see is DJ Pardoman whose face keeps changing from Elvis to Madonna to Brad Pitt. His electronic mask is mesmerising but no one knows who he really is. When the kids visit his website they find an online competition: the person who finds out DJ Pardoman's true identity will be allowed to lift off the mask. Dinah, thinking the whole setup strange, joins in out of curiosity. In her search she stumbles across something amazing: her real father might be alive after years of thinking he was dead. Dinah must find out more. But she only realises the truth of these strange coincidences too late. This time the Demon Headmaster is intent on ensuring that Dinah will not interfere with his plans.

Short stories[edit]

Back in 1998, Puffin Books released a series of goody bags on certain themes and featured a notepad, pencil, rubber, etc., along with a small book. In the 'Fantasy' goody bag there was a book calling 'Crash Landing & Other Stories' by Gillian Cross. This book contains three short stories about the Demon Headmaster or people similar to him.

The first story, called 'Crash Landing', is set at some point after The Prime Minister's Brain, and is about the Demon Headmaster crashing his getaway helicopter in a small village, although he is identified only as 'the Visitor'. It features SPLAT-type characters, including a lead named Charity who actually reads the Demon Headmaster books in the story, Charity defeating the Headmaster by using mirrored sunglasses to trick him into hypnotising himself.

The second story, called Carnival!, doesn't explicitly identify one of its characters as the Demon Headmaster, but from the illustrations and description it is obvious that it is him.

The third story is called 'Maths Homework', and features a teacher referred to as Old Webster. This isn't the Demon Headmaster but is a very similar character. The introduction to the story says, 'Maybe you think you have spotted the Demon Headmaster somewhere. Are you sure? Things aren't always what they seem.'

In the front of the book it says that 'Crash Landing' was first published in Shark And Chips And Other Stories, and that 'Carnival' was published in the Young Telegraph in 1996. The third story is not mentioned.


Dinah Glass/Hunter[edit]

Dinah is the main protagonist in the story The Demon Headmaster by Gillian Cross. She arrives in the story at the Hunters' house as a foster child, having been orphaned at an early age and brought up in a children's home. She is extraordinarily intelligent, but she normally keeps this quiet. Her intelligence causes the Headmaster to take an interest in her, and makes her pivotal in his plans to win a national school quiz competition for nefarious ends, as well as other subsequent plots, made easier by the fact that she is the only member of SPLAT not immune to his hypnosis. At the end of the first story, Dinah is adopted by the Hunter family and becomes Dinah Hunter.

Lloyd Hunter[edit]

Lloyd is the founder and leader of the Society for the Protection of our Lives Against Them, or SPLAT as it's known. Lloyd is one of only five children in the entire school whom the Headmaster is unable to hypnotize. Lloyd comes across as arrogant and cocky at times and also isn't the brightest kid at school unlike his now proper sister, Dinah, but Lloyd has shown on more than one occasion he is by no means stupid and is a more than capable leader of SPLAT even though he does come across as bossy and hates people stealing his thunder. Lloyd at first is very hostile towards Dinah and also takes the longest to accept her out of all the members of SPLAT, but eventually he is the first to suggest that his and Harvey's parents adopt Dinah.

Harvey Hunter[edit]

Harvey is a pleasant laid-back boy, very different to his older brother, Lloyd. It's clear he is very close to Lloyd, possibly because Lloyd has always looked out for him at school and helped him stay out of trouble with the Headmaster. Harvey accepts Dinah into the family and SPLAT a lot quicker than Lloyd and the others do, and soon is as close to his new sister as he is his brother. Harvey seems to understand Dinah more than Lloyd does and is more prepared to listen to her.


Ian acts as Lloyd's second-in-command in SPLAT. Ian, like Harvey, is very laid back and very much the joker of SPLAT. Ian will often break any tension with a well-timed joke and acts as a good foil to the more serious Lloyd.


Mandy is one of the more mature members of SPLAT and seems to be the motherly influence in the society. She is the best at soothing people like Lloyd and Ingrid when they get in a temper, and is generally the most level-headed of the gang, although she is not above making the odd snide remark when Lloyd's plans backfire.


Ingrid is the youngest member of SPLAT, but she's no pushover. Ingrid is generally the most childish member of SPLAT, prone to sulking when things don't go her way or the others don't listen to her. The fact that she's the youngest does mean that she is generally ignored if she makes a suggestion, although nine times out of ten she'll be right.

The Demon Headmaster[edit]

The Headmaster is the main antagonist of the series. He can turn almost anyone into a hypnotic state by having them look in to his eyes, except for a few who seem to be naturally immune, among them Ingrid, Mandy, Harvey, Lloyd and Ian. He seems to be driven by a desire to bring order and control to the world, under his leadership of course. Not much else is revealed about him or the origin of his power. His name is never mentioned, as he is always referred to by various titles, such as The Headmaster and The Computer Director, though it's known that he does have a name - in fact a central plot point of The Demon Headmaster Takes Over is finding it.

TV adaptation[edit]

In 1996, the Demon Headmaster books were adapted by the BBC to make a television series based on the books. The series proved popular with the children of the 90's and ran for three series from 2 January 1996 to 22 January 1998. The first series contained six episodes, and aired twice weekly from 2 to 18 January 1996, the second series contained seven episodes, and aired once a week from 25 September to 6 November 1996, and the third series contained six episodes, and aired twice weekly from 6 to 22 January 1998.

The first series of the show was split into two distinctive story lines, with the first three episodes adapted from the first book in the series "The Demon Headmaster" and the last three were adapted from the second book "The Demon Headmaster and the Prime Minister's Brain". The second series was adapted from the fourth book "The Demon Headmaster Strikes Again". The third and final series was adapted from the fifth book "The Demon Headmaster Takes Over".


All of the original books in the series are available on audiobook, "Beware the Demon Headmaster" and the "Crash Landing" book have yet to be released on Audio. Most of the books in the series are read by Judy Bennett, although Facing the Demon Headmaster is read by Kelly Hunter and not Judy Bennett. Also The Demon Headmaster (the first of the series) was read by Terrence Hardiman and released on cassette.


External links[edit]