The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1988 TV serial)

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1988 TV serial)
Title screen
Written by C.S. Lewis
Alan Seymour
Directed by Marilyn Fox
Starring Richard Dempsey
Sophie Cook
Jonathan R. Scott
Sophie Wilcox
Barbara Kellerman
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 1
No. of episodes 6
Producer(s) Paul Stone
Running time 172 minutes
Original network BBC
Picture format 4:3
Original release 13 November (1988-11-13) – 18 December 1988 (1988-12-18)
Followed by Prince Caspian/The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Related shows The Chronicles of Narnia

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a British children's television drama first broadcast by the BBC in 1988. It was the first series of The Chronicles of Narnia that ran from 1988 to 1990.

Episode 1[edit]

In 1940, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie are siblings who are evacuated from London because of the recent outbreak of World War II. They are sent to the countryside to stay with Professor Digory Kirke.

While exploring a spare room in the house, Lucy enters a wardrobe and finds herself in the middle of a snowy wood, lit by a single lamp-post. She meets a faun named Mr. Tumnus, who explains that she is in the land of Narnia. He takes her back to his cave for tea. He then plays his flute and Lucy goes to sleep, but when she wakes up Tumnus is crying and he confesses that he had intended to hand her over to the cruel White Witch, who rules over Narnia. She had ordered him and all the other Narnians that if they ever saw a Son of Adam or Daughter of Eve in Narnia, they were to catch them and hand them over to her, but Tumnus walks back to the lamp-post with Lucy to make sure she returns safely to her own world.

When Lucy returns to her siblings, they do not believe her story about the country in the wardrobe. Edmund is particularly cruel to her and taunts her with comments like "found any new countries in the cupboard lately?".

Later, during a game of hide and seek, Lucy again enters the wardrobe and Edmund follows her into it, and manages to find his way into Narnia, but he cannot find Lucy. He hears a jingling of bells and a horse-drawn sleigh draws up, transporting a great lady.

Episode 2[edit]

The lady introduces herself as the Queen of Narnia, and demands to know "what" Edmund is. She is running out of patience before she finally asks him if he is human. He tells her that he is human and that he got into Narnia through a wardrobe door. She is kind to Edmund. She magically makes a tent appear which they enter before talking. She is eager to know all about him and he tells her that he has a brother and two sisters. He also tells her that his sister Lucy has already been in Narnia and has met a faun. The Queen tells Edmund that she would like to see his brother and sisters and that next time he comes to Narnia he should bring them with him to meet her. She also tells him that she has no children, and that she would love to have a boy she could bring up as a prince; who would be King of Narnia when she died. She eventually bids farewell to Edmund.

Edmund returns to the lamp-post, where he is reunited with Lucy, who tells him that she has been to see Tumnus again. When she describes the White Witch, Edmund realises that she is no other than the lady he has just made friends with, but he does not let on that he has seen her.

When they return to the Professor's house and meet Peter and Susan, Lucy tells them about Edmund's visit to Narnia, he refuses to back up Lucy's story. Peter, who still does not believe Lucy about Narnia, is furious with Edmund for encouraging Lucy about her "lies".

A few days later, they are playing hide and seek when they are forced to enter the wardrobe because the Macready is coming with visitors. All four find themselves in Narnia, and take fur coats from the wardrobe with them. Lucy takes them to Tumnus's cave, but they find him gone and the cave ransacked. A letter signed by "Maugrim, Captain of the Secret Police" has been left behind, stating that Tumnus is under arrest and awaiting trial on a charge of high treason against the Queen of Narnia.

Episode 3[edit]

The four children make their way from the cave and encounter a beaver. Mr Beaver takes them to his home, and there he explains that Aslan - the great lion and king of beasts - will save Tumnus and end the White Witch's reign. He reveals that Tumnus was seen being taken away by the Secret Police to the White Witch's castle, and that there was no certainty of his fate. The children have to meet Aslan, because they are part of a prophecy. Mr Beaver explains that this prophecy is why they all had to be so cautious as they came along, as the White Witch would be more dangerous still if she knew that there four humans in Narnia.

Suddenly, they notice that Edmund has disappeared, and they rush outside in hope that he will hear them calling for him, but he is nowhere to be seen. Mr Beaver then tells them that Edmund has gone to the White Witch, as he had the look of someone who had been with the Witch. He is even more sure of this when he hears that Edmund has been in Narnia before, by himself, and had not told the others what he had done or who he had met.

Episode 4[edit]

Meanwhile, the beavers and the three other children are preparing for their own journey to the Stone Table. The White Witch had ordered Maugrim and another wolf to go to the Beaver's house to kill everyone there, but when they arrive they found the house empty and the snowfall meant there were no tracks, and the scene was cold, so he followed his mistress's order to head for the Stone Table.

After walking through the snow for several miles, the children and the beavers rest in a cave which acts as a hiding place for beavers in bad times. They soon fall asleep but are awakened hours later (by which time morning has broken) by the sound of jingling bells. Mr Beaver is convinced that it is the White Witch (not knowing that she had deliberately set out on her sleigh without bells in hope of creeping silently upon them) and heads outside to watch in secret. However, when he returns to tell the others what he has seen, he assures them that it is a nasty knock for the Witch and a sign that her power is crumbling. It is Father Christmas, who presents the children with gifts: Peter gets a sword and shield, Susan gets a bow, quiver of arrows and a horn, and Lucy gets a bottle of magical healing cordial. As they continue their journey, the snow around them melts, making way for spring.

Episode 5[edit]

Arriving at the Stone Table, they are welcomed warmly by Aslan. However, Maugrim appears soon afterwards and terrifies the crowd, only to be slain by Peter, who is proclaimed "Sir Peter Wolf's Bane" by Aslan. Knowing that the White Witch is nearby, Aslan sends his creatures to rescue Edmund, succeeding just as the White Witch is preparing to kill him.

Later, the White Witch herself arrives at the Stone Table, demanding that Edmund be given to her, as all traitors in Narnia belong to her. Aslan discusses the matter in private with the Witch, then announces to all that Edmund will be spared, but the camp has to be moved away from the Stone Table before nightfall.

That night, Susan and Lucy follow Aslan as he leaves the encampment. Aslan allows them to follow, but makes them promise to stay hidden. They watch as Aslan walks to the Stone Table, where the White Witch and her followers are waiting for him. They bind and shave Aslan, with the White Witch revealing that Aslan traded his life for Edmund's. The White Witch kills Aslan with a knife; before doing so, she tells him that he has lost his own life and has not saved Edmund's. When the ceremony is over, the White Witch and her company leave to prepare for the oncoming battle with Peter and his forces.

Episode 6[edit]

Susan and Lucy spend the night at the Stone Table with Aslan's body. At dawn, the Stone Table cracks in half and Aslan comes back to life. He explains that there is a deeper magic that states that if a "willing victim who has committed no treachery is killed in a traitor's stead, the Stone Table will crack and death itself will be denied". The two girls jump on Aslan's back and they fly to the White Witch's house, where Aslan's restores all the Witch's victims - including Tumnus - back to life from their stone forms.

By the time Aslan and the restored statues return to the battlefield, the battle is in full swing and the Witch has already turned a number of Aslan's followers into stone. Edmund brings his sword down on the Witch's wand, breaking it. She then knocks him out with the stump of it, but is then chased to the top of a ravine by Peter. Aslan appears and roars so loudly that the Witch loses her balance and falls off the edge, killing her upon impact with the ground below. Later, Aslan restores life to his followers who were turned to stone, and Lucy uses her present of a healing potion to heal those wounded, including Edmund.

Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are later crowned Kings and Queens of Narnia in Cair Paravel. They rule Narnia for many years, bringing peace and prosperity to the land. As adults, the four monarchs are passing through the forest when they come across the old lamp-post that marks the border of Narnia. They walk deeper, passing through the wardrobe door and find themselves back in the professor's house, and once again children. No time had passed on earth.

In the last scene, the four children meet with the professor to explain to him why four of his coats had disappeared. They narrate their adventures to the professor who believes them (he had been in Narnia himself when he was a child, in the book The Magician's Nephew).


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