The Demon Headmaster Keeps Us Spellbound!

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The Demon Headmaster, an old-school spooky BBC kids show from the mid 1990s, has mesmerized our Junior Paranormal Events reviewers, writes GEMMA JOHNSON

The Demon Headmaster Keeps Us Spellbound! 1
The Demon Headmaster (starring Terrence Hardiman) is some ol

TITLE: The Demon Headmaster
CREATOR: Gillian Cross
CAST: Terrence Hardiman, Frances Amey, Gunnar Atli Cauthery, Thomas Szekeres
ORIGINAL RELEASE: 2 January 1996–22 January 1998 on BBC1
NUMBER OF SERIES: 3
NUMBER OF EPISODES: 19

School in general can be overwhelming at times – especially if you grew up in the 1980s where it could be incredibly strict and formal.  I remember having to stand up when the Headmaster entered a room and stay stood up until he invited you to sit down. 

Headteachers, well, mine especially, could be far less approachable than they are now and that is why I lapped up The Demon Headmaster – it was somewhat relatable.

The Demon Headmaster Backgrounder

The Demon Headmaster was a British Television series for children that aired on the BBC from January 1996 until January 1998.  There were three series in total and they were based upon the popular book, of the same name, by Gillian Cross. The Demon Headmaster was remade in 2019.

The story focuses upon Dinah Glass who is a new student at the school and notices some strange occurrences – especially in the presence of the Headmaster. Dinah then embarks on the process of trying to stop the Demon Headmaster taking control and fulfilling his evil deeds.  The Demon Headmaster was played by Terrence Hardiman, his clipped vocal tones and facial expressions were iconic sending a chill down the spine of any viewer watching. 

The Episode

We watched “The Demon Headmaster (Look into my Eyes): Part 1” which was the first episode of the series, and it aired on 2 January 1996.

Dinah Glass has just arrived at a new foster home and is trying to settle into her surroundings, which includes going to a new school.  Her new foster brothers are less than friendly, and the school is well… odd to say the least.  From the moment that she arrives there she notices the odd behaviour of her fellow pupils including chanting in the playground. 

But then she encounters the Headmaster who has an eerie approach to controlling the pupils by drawing them into a trance.  Soon Dinah finds herself falling under his spell, but she is strong and inquisitive which soon makes her into the enemy of the formidable Demon Headmaster.

Our Review

Here’s what our Juniors thought of The Demon Headmaster:

Aubrey: I loved the programme because it was really interesting and intriguing. My favourite part was when the Headmaster jabbed Dinah with a pin to see if she was hypnotised. Dinah was my favourite character because she is intelligent and likes to question everything.  There was nothing that I didn’t like about this programme.

Finlay: I enjoyed watching this programme.  My favourite character was the Headmaster because he was strict, and creepy, I would love to have a teacher like him in my school.  I think he would make a good history teacher because he is a bit weird. My favourite moment was the assembly when he was hypnotising all the pupils. There was nothing that I didn’t like about this programme.

How does it compare to today’s spooky viewing?

I mentioned that the Demon Headmaster was remade in 2019, for me it just didn’t carry the same weight and magnitude of the original series. 

Firstly, there are some iconic shoes to fill if you are stepping into play the role of the Headmaster – Terrence Hardiman will always be the OG here.

Secondly, the editing technology that we have today wasn’t around then but that is a good thing because it made the show much more gritty and edgy. 

Programmes today, especially those of the paranormal variety, focus too much on appearing polished and perfect but in doing so character, and audience connection, can be lost. No extravagant special effects were needed to create the hypnotic skills of Hardiman, he did that through his own sheer talent. 

By going ‘old school’ and ‘retro’, stripping back the glossy special effects and smooth editing techniques, we are able to create something with more depth, personality and authenticity.  It would be lovely to see us revert back to this approach.

Terrence Hardiman passed away in 2023, in honour of him I shall now attempt to hypnotise you….

“Funny you should be so tired so early in the morning. So tired you can hardly move your arms and legs. You are tired, so tired. You feel your head begin to nod and, slowly, your eyes are starting to close. So tired.”

Did it work?

Stay Spooky!
Gemma, Michael, Finlay, and Aubrey
Junior Paranormal Events

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Watch The Demon Headmaster Trailer

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