The Incredible Adventures of Professor Brainstawm

1969 | United Kingdom

Professor Branestawm is a series of thirteen books written by the English author Norman Hunter. Written over a 50 year period, between 1933 and 1983, the children's books feature as protagonist the eponymous inventor, Professor Theophilus Branestawm, the classic bungling, fumbling, absent-minded scientist who dreams up useless inventions that would get him laughed out of the patent office. 

In 1969, actor Jack Woolgar brought Branestawm to life in this Thames Television produced series. Woolgar, who shaved his head for the part-"a bit chilly" he admitted-was a great fan of Branestawm having heard Hunter read the stories on the radio in Children's Hour. "I was a bit worried at first how Branestawm would go over on television becasue (the) series (was) sticking closely to the books, with no special visual gimmicks. Woolgar's co-stars in the series were the crazy Branestawm inventions designed by 28-year old Terry Gough, a set designer at Teddington Studios. Gough designed around 15 working machines for the series using stuff like an old kitchen colander, parts of a clock, a First World war soldier's helmet and sawn-in-half barrels. 

Helping Professor Branestawm bungle his screwball schemes were the very correct Colonel Dedshott (Paul Whitsun-Jones) and trying her best to keep the place tidy-and intact-while they carried out their experiments was their housekeeper, Mrs. Flittersnoop (Freda Dowie). The original stories were adapted for television by Trevor Preston.

In 2014, a BBC hour-long television film adaptation of Hunter's books, written by Charlie Higson and starring Harry Hill as Professor Branestawm, was broadcast on Christmas Eve.

Published on December 22nd, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.