This film is part of Rentals


Witchcraft comes under scrutiny - is it just nudism in another guise?

1957 14 mins

Director: Geoffrey Hughes


Investigative journalist and charismatic Soho bon vivant Dan Farson presents this polite yet probing, nuanced TV doc about witchcraft, what it really is and how it's practiced in 1950s Britain. Guests include stern anthropologist Margaret Murray and practicing witch Gerald Gardner, who, looking resplendent with stiff white hair and beard, chuckles and keep his cool in the line of fire.

Gerald Gardner wrote his book Witchcraft Today in 1954, three years after the repeal of the Witchcraft Act. It was written as if he was a disinterested ethnographer, but he later revealed he had been inducted into a long-standing coven in the New Forest. His description of ritual set the tone for witchcraft thereafter and he's considered by many to be the creator of the Wiccan religion, as witchcraft is also known. Farson, for his part, remembered that he'd been out drinking and got into a fight the night before these interviews were shot. The resulting black eye meant his question and reaction shots had to be filmed at a later date.