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Cadfael

Cadfael is the name given to the TV series adapted from The Cadfael Chronicles novels written by Ellis Peters. It was produced by the ITV Central between 1994 and 1998. The series was broadcast on the ITV network in the UK, and starred Derek Jacobi as the medieval detective.

  • Derek Jacobi as Brother Cadfael
  • Michael Culver as Prior Robert
  • Julian Firth as Brother Jerome
  • Peter Copley as Abbot Heribert (series 1)
  • Terrence Hardiman as Abbot Radulfus (series 2-4, guest series 1)
  • Mark Charnock as Brother Oswin (series 1-3)
  • Albie Woodington as Sergeant Warden (series 1-2)
  • Sean Pertwee as Sheriff Hugh Beringar (series 1)
  • Eoin McCarthy as Sheriff Hugh Beringar (series 2 & 3)
  • Anthony Green as Sheriff Hugh Beringar (series 4)

There were a total of thirteen episodes in the series.

Series I (1994)

One Corpse Too Many was the first Cadfael book to be adapted for television. It was directed by Graham Theakston, the screenplay was by Russell Lewis, and the cast featured Sean Pertwee as Hugh Beringar, Christian Burgess as Adam Courcelle, and Michael Grandage as King Stephen. The series was filmed mostly in Hungary. The adaptation for One Corpse Too Many stuck closely to the original novel, with only minor plot or script deviations to cater to the different medium.

The Sanctuary Sparrow was the second Cadfael story to be adapted for television. It was mostly filmed on location in Hungary. It featured Steven Mackintosh as Liliwin, and Sara Stephens as Rannilt.

The Leper of Saint Giles was the third Cadfael book. It was slightly out of sequence as two earlier books in the series were filmed as later episodes. The adaptation stuck fairly closely to the original novel. The part of Joscelin Lucy was played by Jonathan Firth. Iveta de Massard was played by Tara FitzGerald, Sarah Badel played Avice of Thornbury, Jamie Glover played Simon, Jonathan Hyde played Godfrid Picard, and John Bennett played Lazarus. In Series I, Heribert is the abbot, played by Peter Copley, while in the novel of this title, Radulfus has been the Abbot for nearly a year.

Monk's Hood was the fourth episode. It was out of sequence as two later books in the series preceded it on the screen. The television adaptation for Monk's Hood stuck fairly closely to the original novel.

Series II (1995–1996)

The Virgin in the Ice The plot of the episode differed more than most from the original novel. The action was moved from Ludlow to Cadfael's "home" abbey of Shrewsbury; Brother Elyas's part was replaced by that of Cadfael's young and callow assistant in the herb gardens, Brother Oswin, and extra plot elements were introduced to explain the presence of the brigands led by le Gaucher (Ronan Vibert), and the final unmasking of the murderer.

The Devil's Novice featured Christien Anholt as Meriet, Julian Glover as Leoric, and Louisa Millwood-Haigh as Isouda/Isobel. The TV adaptation is largely faithful to the book. There is an extended prologue showing Clemence's (Ian Reddington) overnight stay at Aspley, where he alienates everyone with his arrogant and patronizing manner, except Rosanna, who flirts with him shamelessly. Brother Mark's role in the novel is fulfilled by Cadfael's earnest assistant, Brother Oswin (Mark Charnock). Hugh Beringar (Eoin McCarthy) travels out of Shrewsbury, leaving his less-subtle deputy, Sergeant Warden (Albie Woodington), in charge, who repeatedly clashes with Cadfael over the solution to Clemence's murder. Under pressure from Canon Eluard (Ian McNeice), Warden is all too eager to condemn first Harald (John Dallimore), and then Meriet, for the crime. Janyn (Daniel Betts) is caught as he is trying to flee the Abbey, confesses, and is last seen being marched to gaol, to await execution.

A Morbid Taste for Bones This episode featured Michael Culver as Prior Robert, and Anna Friel as Sioned. The television episode makes some changes, including secondary characters and proper names. Brother John and Annest are not included, leaving only one set of young lovers for the viewer to follow. The tension between the Welsh villagers and the English monastics is played up considerably, and the acquisition of St. Winifrede is made more dangerous thereby. To that end, the naive and charming Father Huw is recharacterised as the suspicious and rather grubby Father Ianto, who opposes the saint's removal and castigates the monks for haggling over her bones as if she were a bone at a butcher's stall. Bened the smith, while retaining his name, also loses much of his openhearted good nature, being both a suspicious rival of Rhisiart's and a vehement accuser of the monks themselves. In the climax of the adaptation, Brother Columbanus' confession is drawn out by less supernatural means than in the novel. Instead of being hoodwinked by Sioned in the dark, Columbanus confesses to a fevered figure of his own imagination. He is egged on to this by Cadfael, who pretends to see a figure of light bearing down upon them as they keep their vigil in St. Winifrede's church. Sioned's part is to stay hidden as a witness, but when Columbanus relates with what joy he struck down her father in the saint's name, Sioned loses control and flies at him, with disastrous consequences as Columbanus realizes that he has been tricked. Sioned's lover, renamed from Engelard to Godwin, appears to defend Sioned, and Colombanus's accidental death occurs as in the novel. However, Columbanus' own motives are a good deal more ambiguous in the television adaptation. He innocently denies any ambition on his own part to be "the youngest head under a mitre," and his actions appear to stem from religious fervor and criminal insanity, rather than from a cold, calculated pass at fame. Otherwise, the episode remains primarily faithful to the text, with the necessary exception of being well into Abbott Radulfus' tenure at the abbey, instead of introducing the series.

Series III (1997)

The Rose Rent stars Kitty Aldridge as Judith, and Tom Mannion as Niall Bronzesmith. The adaptation makes some changes from the book. The most significant change is that Miles (Crispin Bonham-Carter) is motivated not by greed, but by secret love for his cousin, and first attacks the rose bush to convince her to let go of her devotion to her deceased husband. Another change is that Cadfael gives the young wife a potion to ease her terminally ill husband's pain, warning her that too much will kill him; in the next scene, the man is dead, implying a mercy killing. In the book, there is no such implication. The husband dies of his illness three years before the novel opens, with no suggestion that Cadfael or the widow acted to hasten his end.

Saint Peter's Fair

The Raven in the Foregate

Series IV (1998)

The Holy Thief

The Potter's Field

The Pilgrim of Hate This episode varies widely from the novel. In this version, a well-aged corpse is found in the baggage of the pilgrims on St. Winifred's day, and its identity, not the murder of a faraway knight, becomes the subject of the mystery. Matthew and Ciaran are brothers, pointing fingers as to who is responsible for their father's death. In this adaptation Matthew turns out to be the villain. Crippled Rhun, far from being one of Cadfael's most promising future novices, confirms Father Abbot's suspicions that he is only faking his condition to earn the charity of those around him; his sister Melangell has been forced by guilt to wait on him hand and foot, even stealing to support their needs. It aired on 28 December 1998, and was the last of Ellis Peters' novels to be adapted for the screen.

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