The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Barney Harwood (2007)
Ortis Deley (2009)
The Sorcerer: Max Somerset
Tutors: Sophie Evans (Miss Evans) and Tariq Knight (Mr Knight) (all series); Jane Roberts (Miss Roberts, 2009)
Twenty Twenty for BBC One and BBC Two, 9 to 21 July 2007 (10 episodes in 1 series)
Twenty Twenty for BBC Two, 25 January 2009 to 20 December 2009 (20 episodes in 2 series)
Dedication, discipline, and detail were the watchwords of this series. Fourteen children were taken from their everyday lives to spend a fortnight at a boarding school, learning about magic tricks.
Over the two weeks, the sorcerees learned sample tricks from all sorts of magic - topics covered included penetration, production and disappearance, escapology, transformation, restoration, teleportation, levitation, mentalism, and manipulation. They were also given lessons in stagecraft - patter, movement, mime, even dancing lessons. To inspire the contestants, they were given demonstrations of tricks they could emulate.
Viewed as a reality show, The Sorcerer's Apprentice followed the usual template - contestants are challenged to learn a skill, tested on it, the weakest performers leave the show, and the best is crowned as the champion. There were two departures from the norm: by including a professional magic presentation in each show, the programme just about worked as an entertainment show, independent of the children.
The other idea was to save much footage, including some major plot developments, for The Sorcerer's Apprentice Extra. This show went out on BBC2 the morning after each main show, and about half of the programme consisted of unseen footage. It also had a Teacher Challenge competition, repeating the small trophy sight-joke from School's Out.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice was originally aired in the two weeks immediately before the release of the seventh Harry Potter book, and the final show went out immediately after an interview with author J K Rowling.
The first series went down well, featuring in this site's Best New Shows of 2007 poll. Two further series aired in 2009, this time airing in one-hour blocks.
2007: Tomos Power - "The Hatted Dragon"
2009 (spring term): Elizabeth
(autumn term): Rebecca Short
George Kay and Ana de Moraes
The first series was filmed at Chantmarle Manor, Dorset; the second series at Abberley Hall, Worcester.