Figure 1.--"Mr. Majeika" features children in their prep school uniforms during the 1980s. The boys and girls wore a destinctive purple stripped blazer. The boy in the picture was a mischevious character called Hamish.
A charming British childrens program was Mr Majeika which ran for three consecutive seasons during 1988-90. Mr. Majeika is a magician from another planet teaches who is teaching at a British prep school. The children also appear in their prep school uniforms. The boys wear a striped blazer with short grey shorts. The
principal boy involved is about 11 or so. All the boys at school wear proper grey shorts. In one scene they have a Cub outing. Dreadful stories but children are usually featured. In one the good Dr. takes a properly dressed Cub troop on an outing. At this time, however, HBC know little about the program. We believe it was primarily a children's program. Stanley Baxter played the title role of Mr Majeika. Andrew Reed and Simeon Pearl played the two boys that appeared in prep school uniforms. We almost wonder if this series did not help inspire Harry Potter.
The TV series was based on a popular children's book, Mr Majeika written by Humphrey Carpenter. Carpenter was born and educated in Oxford. He attended the Dragon School, before going to Keble College, where his father had been Warden for many years. He is well known as a writer and previously as a producer for the BBC. We almost wonder if this series did not help inspire Harry Potter. Carpenter was quite a prolific writer and his books were qwite varied. We do know he wrote the The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature, his major study which was published to great acclaim. He also wrote respected biographies, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography (2000), Robert Runcie: The Reluctant Archbishop (1997), A Serious Character : The Life of Ezra Pound, Dennis Potter (1999), W.H. Auden, Benjamin Britten, and C.S Lewis. Another book was The Inklings, but I know nothing about it other than it won the Somerset Maugham Award. He also wrote a popular book on Shakesphere, Shakespeare Without the Boring Bits (1994). There is also a historical book, Makers of Christianity (1995). Carpenter is the author of many children's books including the ever popular Mr. Majeika series (published in Viking Kestrel and Puffin) and (based on the scripts by Jenny McDade) the TV adventures of Mr Majeika starring Stanley Baxter. He has written several plays for theatre and radio and founded the Mushy Pea Theatre Group, a children's drama group based in Oxford, which premiered his Mr. Majeika: The Musical (with music by Anthony Royse) in 1991 and Babes, a musical about the Hollywood child stars.
Humphrey Carpenter is a keen musician, who founded the jazz band Vile Bodies, which is still resident at the Ritz Hotel in London. He plays the tuba and sousaphone, the double bass, bass saxophone and keyboard. He lives in Oxford and is married with two daughters. He lists "sleep" as his only recreation!
The first book proved very popular and it became a notableular series in Britain. Some of the books in the series included: Mr. Majeika and the Music Teacher, Mr. Majeika And The Haunted Hotel, Mr. Majeika and the School Play, Mr. Majeika and the School Book Week, Mr.
Majeika and the School Inspector, Mr. Majeika and the Ghost Train, Mr. Majeikas Postbag, Mr. Majeika and the School Caretaker, Mr. Majeika Vanishes, Mr. Majeika and the School Trip, Mr. Majeika and the School Book Week, and
Mr. Majeika and the Dinner Lady. The latest book is Mr. Majeika on the Internet. HBC does not have details on the plots in most of these books. In the first one, the children are intrigued by their new teature, except Hamish Bigmore, the class nuisance, who has been getting his own way for far too long. When Hamish iacts up on a nature outing Mr. Majeika quickly deals with him--but things go disastrously wrong. In Mr. Majeika and the Music Teacher, Mr. Majeika knows that the school's new music teacher is a witch!
Frank Rodgers illustrated the first book. Presumably he illustrated the subsequent ones as well, although we do not yet have any examples. He is perhaps best known for illustrating a series of bos about puppies. He wrote one book, Comic Fun.
Figure 2.--"Mr. Majeika" features children in their prep school uniforms during the 1980s. The boys wore standard grey shorts trousers and kneesocks.
At this time HBC know little about the program. We know that it was primarily a children's program. The programmes were shown on ITV for three consecutive seasons during 1988-90.
The alien teacher Mr Majeika was played by well known British comedian/impressionist/actor Stanley Baxter. He's now retired but still hail and hearty, as a recent tribute programme revealed. Andrew Reed played Thomas Grey in series 1 and 2. Simeon Pearl played Hamish Bigmore. These are the two boys with the largest roles. Sanjiv Madan also played a largeish part in series 3. Claire Sawyer played Melanie Brace-Girdle. These are the children commonly appearing in the shool uniforms.
Is the new teacher, Mr. Majeika, responsible for peculiar goings-on at St. Barty's School? When your teacher is a wizard, anything is possible--even the improvement of school dinners. The excentric teacher at St. Barty's, a British prep school, shows up in a very unusual manner. Mr Majeika, of course, is not ordinary teacher. Mr. Majeika is in fact a magician from the planet Walpurgis teaches who is posing as a teacher. In effect a failed Wizard turned teacher. He has been a wizard for years and has forgotten most of his spells, so he wants to be an ordinary teacher and asks three boys to help him. But Mr Majeika always forgets that he is no longer a wizard anymore. He does, however, try very hard to be a good teacher. Mr Majeika finds a number of ways to deal with pesky Hamish Bigmore and his friends, he turns them into different animals--but this has a variety of complications. Mr. Majeika and his class often could have got into trouble because of Mr Majeika’s magic, but his students really like Mr. Majeika and wants him to teach them next term as well.
We have few details about the various episodes. The stories are not all that well written, but there is a certsain charm associated with the series. This is of course a children's show. Thus the series can be enjoyed on that level. Most of the episiodes are set in or around the school. In one episode, the good Mr. Majeika takes a smartly dressed Cub troop on an outing. Hopefully HBC readers will provide us more detailed information on some of the episodes.
The program s set in a British preparatory school which is essentially a private school at the primary level. The children are thus costumed in the traditional school uniform that many of these schools mauntain. The boys have the traditional peaked cap with the yellow piping dividing it into sections. These caps were once ubiquitous, but by the 1980s many schools had dropped them. The girls wear boaters trimmed in the school colors. The children have a grey blazer with green and yellow stripes. Such stripped blazers used to be more common, but by the 1980s had declined in part because they were more expensive than solid color blazers. The boys wear grey school short trousers. The children are about 9 years old when the progrtam beagn and about 11 when the series ended in 1990. All the boys at school wear proper grey shorts with grey kneesocks. They do not have the kneesocks with the tops done in the school colors.The girls wear the same blazers with yellow dresses and white kneesocks. skirts. .
The uniform that the boys used was an actual 1980s prep school uniform. The cast wore the uniforms of of a local school. They used the uniforms without permission, buying the clothes locally second hand. I'm not sure what the school thought about that. A boy at the school relates that the headmaster at the school was not at all happy about this and apparently tried to sue the producers, apparentky without success.
Readers interested in "Mr. Majeika" may want to visit Andrew Swann's much more detailed site: "Hello and Welcome to Walpurgis! This website is dedicated to that 'magical' TV series Mr Majeika. I hope it will give people who have never seen the show a taste of what this wonderful series is all about, and remind those of you who remember it, some things you may have forgotten. So venture into Walpurgis, land of Witches and Wizards, Ghosts and Goblins for a more in-depth look at the series, or travel down via balloon to Britland, and Much Barty, home for 3 years to Apprentice Wizard Majeika, and see what adventures befall you." This is an interesting website with a Forum which one of the original child actors (SAm) contirbutes.
Readers interested in British preparatoty schools may want to look at the book and e-Books available through Apertures Press. These publications provide a great deal of information about the schools.
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