ACE OF WANDS By Bill Harry                                         

A British series of 46 half-hour episodes in colour created by Trevor Preston and produced by Thames Television. It was first transmitted in July, 1970. ‘Ace of Wands’ centred on a young magician called Tarot, described in the TV Times as: “A 20th Century Robin Hood, with a pinch of Merlin and a dash of Houdini.” Tarot is an illusionist and stage magician who becomes involved in detective work. Tarot has a telepathic link with his assistant, Lulli and is able to hypnotise. Apart from that, his ‘powers’ are mainly confined to magic tricks and sleight-of-hand rather than genuine supernatural abilities. Despite this Tarot was able to defeat a number of macabre villains such as Mama Doc, Madame Midnight, Mister Dove and Mockers, assisted by Lulli, an ex-con called Sam, an antiquarian bookseller, Mr Sweet and his pet Malayan fishing owl, Oxymanias. Lulli, a 20-year-old University drop-out had met Tarot when her beach buggy had crashed into his flash sports car. They immediately established a telepathic rapport and she became his stage assistant. Sam, previously a seaman, grave-digger and bodyguard shares Tarot’s large apartment and acts as his stage manager. A former convict, he has many underworld contacts which prove useful on a number of Tarot’s cases. The 60-year-old bookshop owner Mr Sweet has what is literally a ‘computer’ brain, which proves invaluable to Tarot in his many investigations. The series was aimed at a juvenile audience and originally screened each Wednesday in an early evening time slot, finally coming to an end on November 29, 1972. Scots actor Michael McKenzie portrayed Tarot, and he was taught to perform a number of magical stunts and sleight-of-hand tricks by the series’ Magical Advisor – Ali Bongo. Other regular cast members included Judy Loe as Lulli, Tony Selby as Sam and Donald Layne-Smith as Sweet. At the end of the second series both Loe and Selby decided to leave and the character of Lulli left Tarot’s employ to get married while Sam went off to start his own road haulage business. The two characters were replaced in the final series by a brother and sister team, Mikki and Chas, one a journalist, the other a photographer. They were played by Petra Markham and Roy Holder. Among the guest players in the series were David Prowse, Hildegard Neil, Russell Hunter and Tim Curry. The scriptwriters included Victor Pemberton, Bill Emms, Don Houghton and P.J. Hammond, the first three veterans of ‘Dr Who’, the latter the creator of ‘Sapphire and Steel.’ The first season: ‘One and One Are Four’, a three-part adventure; ‘The Mind Robbers’, a four-part adventure; ‘Now You See It, Now You Don’t’ a two-part adventure; ‘Smile’, a four-part adventure. Second season: ‘Seven Serpents, Sulphur and Salt’, a three-part adventure; ‘Joker’, a three-part adventure; ‘Nightmare Gas’, a three-part adventure; ‘The Eye of Ra’, a four-part adventure. Third season: ‘The Meddlers’, a three-part adventure; ‘The Power of Atep’, a four-part adventure; ‘Peacock Pie’, a three-part adventure; ‘Mama Doc’, a three-part adventure; ‘Sisters Deadly’, a three-part adventure; ‘The Beautiful People’ a four-part adventure.

             

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