Next year on CBBC, the BBC's children's channel, will see a new adaptation of Jill Murphy’s classic book series, The Worst Witch.
The first in the collection, The Worst Witch, was published in 1974 with most recent entry hitting shelves in 2013 and followed the adventures of Mildred Hubble who finds herself landing head first, literally, at Miss Cackle’s Academy for witches. Full of flying, magic and plenty of laughs, the new show brings Jill Murphy’s books to life for a whole new audience.
And the good news for Doctor Who fans is that you'll recognise some of its stars. Clare Higgins, who you will remember portrayed Ohila from the Sisterhood of Karn in a number of episodes (The Night of the Doctor, The Magician's Apprentice, Hell Bent), will play headteacher Miss Cackle. Actress Raquel Cassidy (Miranda Cleaves in 2011's The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People) has been cast in the role of Mildred’s fearsome Deputy Head Miss Hardbroom.
Other names include: Wendy Craig (known for her lead role in the iconic 70s BBC sitcom, Butterflies), who plays the fabulously ancient chanting teacher, Miss Bat; Nicola Stephenson (who starred alongside the Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston in ITV's Safe House) will play Ms Hubble; and in the role of health and safety conscious teacher, Miss Gullet, is Kacey Ainsworth (EastEnders). Alongside these established names are a wealth of talented newcomers.
Author Jill Murphy said: “Published 42 years ago, The Worst Witch has been the cornerstone of my career. I illustrate my own books, so I am very protective about them in every way and I'm delighted to say that this wonderful new production ticks all the boxes. There have been a few changes, to nudge the Academy into the twenty first century, but diehard fans needn't worry, Miss Hardbroom is always on hand making sure that ' Standards will NOT be slipping!' Now, when my readers ask if they can visit the school, I can tell them ‘watch the new series of The Worst Witch on CBBC and you'll feel as if you've just flown in through the window!”
The Worst Witch also has another well-known Doctor Who name involved, Marcus Wilson, who served as a producer on the show from 2011-2013 and is the Executive Producer on this new CBBC series. Marcus commented: “Time to grab your broomsticks and brace yourselves for the start of the new term at the most magical school in the world!”
Filming on the 12-part series begins in the during the summer with additional filming in Germany. The Worst Witch will be screened on CBBC in early 2017.