Beloved British actor Geoffrey Bayldon has died 93 years old, after battling respiratory problems. Bayldon was known for his role as Catweazle in the 70′ children’s TV show and later for the role as Crowman in Worzel Gummidge. A spokesman who ran the fan club, who was close to the actor, confirmed his death.
The owner of the Catweazle Fan Club, who was close to British born star, told he died peacefully at his home on Wednesday. A statement released by the club told ‘It is with great sadness and a very heavy heart, that we have to inform you of the passing of our beloved Geoffrey. At the age of 93 and after battling respiratory problems of late, he passed away on the morning of May 10th. This is utterly heart breaking… it has been a great shock. I hope that all members of the fan club family will agree with us, that the legacy, love, skill and character of this lovely, witty, talented and generally charming man, must continue through our club.’
The statement was shared by Carol Barnes, who worked closely with Mr Bayldon and co-ran the online organisation with its founder, named Gary Bowers. BBC’s Lizo Mzimba wrote on twitter ‘Sad news. Actor Geoffrey Bayldon, best known for playing Catweazle and Worzel Gummidge’s Crowman has passed away aged 93, his agency says.’ Bayldon was Leeds-born and trained at Old Vic Theatre School, before starting his career in Shakespeare and theatre. He turned down Doctor Who twice, having been earmarked for the role by BBC in its early days.
He did eventually appear in the show, with a guest appearance as Organon when Tom Baker was Doctor and lent his voice to the title part for two audio plays. He continued working until 2010, with one of his last appearances in My Family that year. In an interview with Sci-Fi bulletin in 2011, Bayldon told he had no regrets about not taking on the role of the Doctor. He told ‘I’ve never been in love with sci-fi. It doesn’t terribly interest me. I turned it down simply because I’d been playing old men and I didn’t want to play any more. I didn’t read a script so I never turned an offer down and when I got Catweazle, I thought, “That’s why I turned Doctor Who down”. I’ve played the part on audios since and thoroughly enjoyed doing it.’
He once toldof his show Catweazle ‘It was a new idea, at the time of boring kitchen-sink drama. Everything was serious, working-class, and the idea of magic didn’t even occur, let alone humour. With the two together I thought the world would be mine!’
Catweazle was an ITV children’s show which started in 70′ and featured Bayldon as a wizard from the Norman times who had been cast into the future by magic. He enlists the help of two boys to try to get back to his own time, in 11th century. As well as playing the eccentric 11th century wizard in the 70′ family show, he was also known for his role as The Crowman in Worzel Gummidge (79′-81′) and for portraying TV’s Magic Grandad (93′-94′). Prior to his memorable children’s TV roles, Bayldon appeared in several films including Casino Royale, a James Bond spoof based on Ian Fleming’s debut 007 novel, King Rat and To Sir, With Love. Bayldon is believed to have had one brother but no partner or any children. His hobbies included walking and collecting water color paintings. Mr Bowers, 60 years old, founded the fan club, which now has at least 1,500 members from around the world, around 15 years ago, after falling in love with Catweazle as a child. He told ‘I had been seriously ill and didn’t think I was going to make it and I wanted to leave something behind. I always loved Catweazle as a child and whole families used to sit around the telly together on Sunday afternoons to watch it. It’s such a timeless piece of work that it will never be dated, the only things that have really changed are the motor cars and the telephone boxes. I once got hold of Geoffrey’s telephone number and I remember pacing up and down with it for about three hours before deciding to ring him, and then he was really, really nice. He was very generous with the club and he would always come along to our annual get-togethers, even after he fell ill.’