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Suppose you're a kid attending wizard school, with classes in Potions and Broom Flying, in a stone castle surrounded by dark forests. It's hard for you, since you weren't raised by a magical family, but you make two best friends pretty quickly, and then spend the rest of the series getting into adventures with them--usually of the out-of-bounds kind. Your chief rival, meanwhile, is the stuck-up scion of an old magical family... who, to make things worse, is blatantly the favourite of one of your most-hated professors, the sour-faced potions teacher. At least the kindly old head teacher is on your side...

Harry Potter? Whoever said anything about him? We're talking about The Worst Witch.

The Worst Witch is a book series by Jill Murphy about the trials and tribulations of a clumsy witch trying to survive her years at Miss Cackle's Academy For Witches. It has been adapted into both a movie and a TV series, with the latter going on to produce two Spin-Off series.

The series follows the adventures of Mildred Hubble, a Book Dumb student at the aforementioned school, and her friends Maud Moonshine (changed to Maud Spellbody for the US release, and Maud Warlock for the movie) and Enid Nightshade, as they get into all sorts of mischief, while being tormented by nasty Ethel Hallow. Meanwhile, they are always under the watchful eyes of school principal Amelia Cackle, the extremely strict Miss Constance Hardbroom and her polar opposite, Miss Bat (the books state that there are more teachers). The Movie adds broomstick trainer Madame Spellbinder, while the television series added Miss Crotchet as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for Miss Bat in the third season, a caretaker named Mr. Blossom and made P.E. teacher Miss Drill an Ascended Extra.

Incidentally, the movie features a young Fairuza Balk as Mildred, with Diana Rigg as Miss Hardbroom, Charlotte Rae as Miss Cackle and her Evil Twin, and Tim Curry as a positively-creepy Grand Wizard.

There are currently six books:

  1. The Worst Witch
  2. The Worst Witch Strikes Again
  3. A Bad Spell For The Worst Witch
  4. The Worst Witch All At Sea
  5. The Worst Witch Saves The Day
  6. The Worst Witch To The Rescue

The television series's two Spin Offs are:

  • Weirdsister College: The Further Adventures of the Worst Witch: Set at college in Cambridge, featuring Mildred settling into college life with Ethel for a roomate
  • The New Worst Witch: Chronicles the adventures of Mildred's cousin Henrietta 'Hettie' Hubble and her friends; Mona Hallow, who happens to be Ethel's youngest sister, and Crescentmoon 'Cressie' Winterchild, all of whom are tormented by evil witch Belladonna Bindweed.

This book series and its adaptations provides examples of:

  • Accentuate the Negative: Used in the last episode of series 2 by the girls to prevent the school from being sold where they claim it's not just small, it's miniscule.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Happened twice in the television series where the story would focus on Sybil's class whilst the main cast were away
  • Acting for Two: The actress playing Miss Cackle (in the adaptations) also plays her evil twin sister Agatha
  • Adaptation Dye Job: Enid Nightshade went from being blonde in the books to having brown hair in the tv series. In the earlier television movie, Mildred (black hair) and Maud (blonde) both turned brunette.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The series has gone through this several times over. The TV movie padded itself with sequences including a "scaring contest" and an early sequence with Punk Charlotte Rae, and the later series would pad the same adaptation by using the "Ethel's a pig" sequence as the basis for an entire episode (introducing a whole new character in Mr Blossom's nephew Charlie), while adding in a climactic chase through the school grounds. It's otherwise managed to incorporate adaptations of the next three books pretty much as-is (although The Worst Witch Strikes Again was made into two separate episodes).
  • Adaptational Villainy: Inverted completely. Miss Drill and Miss Bat's one appearances in the books have them appear to be strict and grumpy teachers but in the series they are much nicer and usually the ones that the girls can confide in. Similarly Drucilla is given much more depth in the series with several episodes showing her helping the girls out. She even does a Heel Face Turn at the end of the series.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: The first spin-off, Weirdsister College, gives us recurring male characters, one of whom is the dark and mysterious Nick Hobbes, who both Millie and Ethel both get a crush on.
  • All Witches Have Cats
  • Alpha Bitch: Ethel in the television adaptation, Belladonna in The New Worst Witch. Enid could also count for this, except that she was one of Millie's friends.
  • Ascended Extra: Miss Drill, Drusilla, Fenella, Griselda, Sybil and Clarice all of whom made a grand total of one appearance in the books (although Drusilla got a larger role in the books after the television series) all of whom are expanded into recurring characters in the television series. Also, the character of Deidre Swoop, who made an appearance in one episode of The Worst Witch and became a recurring character in the two spin-offs.
  • Banging for Help: In the episode where Miss Cackle gets tied up, gagged and left in the storage closet, when she sees Mildred and Enid flying in through the passage at the top of the closet, she starts making noise
  • Boarding School
  • Brother Chuck: No explanation is given (on-screen) as to where Miss Bat went after season 2 of the television series, although apparently CITV explained she went to live in Inner Mongolia
    • Arguably the students featured in The New Worst Witch, which introduced a whole new cast of characters - including a previously unmentioned cousin of Mildred, and another sister for Ethel and Sybil - for no purpose other than returning to the magic (high) school format.
  • Canon Dis Continuity: Happens in show in season one, episode 11, Let Them Eat Cake:

 Miss Cackle: Now come along Miss Harbroom, I've declared this an afternoon out, and you know what that means.

Miss Hardbroom: A holiday?

Miss Cackle: More than that. Tomorrow, we will forget that we were here together. An afternoon that never happened!

  • Canis Latinicus: The show was using this to make spells sound cool before Harry Potter was a gleam in JK's eye
  • Christmas Special: The final filmed episode. It featured a School Pantomime.
  • Clark Kenting: Agatha in the final epsiode of season 1 who swaps places with Amelia by switiching glasses. Justified as they are identical twins.
  • Completely Different Title: The series is known in France as Amandine Malabul (which is Mildred Hubble's name in French). All of the books were prefixed with her name, and a subtitle. For instance, the fourth book, The Worst Witch All At Sea became Amandine Malabul: La Sorciere a Peur de l'eau ("Mildred Hubble: The Witch with a Fear of Water").
    • Weirdsister College became known as Eine Lausige Hexe in Cambridge ("The Worst Witch In Cambrige.")
  • Cultural Translation: Mildred is American in the movie even though it was a British production, filmed in Britain with a mostly British cast.
  • Cute Witch: Mildred is an extremely clumsy one.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: In the tv movie, Miss Cackle sends Mildred straight to bed without supper after wrecking the broomstick display. She isn't sadistic though, in fact earlier in the film when Mildred is sent to her office she doesn't act nasty at all.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Tim Curry, Halloween Song
  • Dramatic Irony: A small case but the episode "A Pig in a Poke" where Charlie steals a hat and cloak and pretends to be one of the girls. Just as his uncle asks Miss Drill where he is, she suggests he's probably in the library...right as she is directing Charlie unknowingly into the hall with the rest of the girls.
  • Dub Name Change: Plently in the Dutch dub.
    • Mildred Hubble to Merel Hobbel
    • Ethel Hallow to Edith Huigel
    • Fenella Feverfew to Vanella Wiggelkoe
    • Griselda Blackwood to Griselda Breekhout
    • Sybil to Sara
    • Hellibore to Hellerook
    • Algernon Rowan-Webb to Evertjan Dromenster
    • Cas to Tes
    • Hobbes to Hops
    • Miss Hardbroom to Heks Hakblok
    • Miss Drill to Juf Kim
      • Plenty too in french traduction and dub.
        • Mildred Hubble to Amandine Malabul
        • Maud Moonshine to Maud Moucheté (TV)/Pamela (book)
        • Enid Nightshade to Isabelle Tromplamor
        • Tabby to Petipas
        • Miss Cackle to Melle Caquet (TV)/Melle Jolidodue (book)
        • Ethel Hallow to Edith Aigreur (TV)/Octavie Pâtafiel(book)
        • Fenella Feverfew to Fenella Folavoine
        • Griselda Blackwood to Griselda Bravoure
        • Miss Hardbroom to Melle Harebours(TV)/Melle Bâtonsec (book)
    • While not as drastic, the Latin American dub would usually change the last names of the characters for direct or semi-direct translations of them or one of the words composing them. Mildred's became "Embrollo" (Hubble), Maud's was "Luna" (Moon), Enid's was "Sombra" (Shade), Drusilla's was "Del Corral" (Of the Paddock), etc. Some characters, like Ethel Hallow or Miss Cackle, kept their names unchanged.
  • Expository Theme Song: "Growing Up Isn't Easy", sung by--of all people--Bonnie Langford. Yes, that Bonnie Langford.
  • Evil Twin: Miss Cackle's sister Agatha, memorably portrayed in the film by Charlotte Rae in a pink wig and a Texan accent.
  • Evolving Credits: The opening titles to the first episode did not feature Mildred and her friends. Instead we saw the shots we usually see of all of the other witches (as well as one of a witch descending in front of the gate which didn't end up in the proper opening). The school song (used as the show's opening theme) was also not played and instead an instrumental BGM was. It was from the second episode onward we saw Mildred and her friends (bar Enid, who wasn't added until after her debut episode) flying on broomsticks and the school song was used as the opening theme.
  • Face Heel Turn: Maud in "The Worst Witch Strikes Again". Carried over into the TV series in two episodes
  • Fridge Brilliance: In the second season of the TV show, Ethel gives herself a "witch-over" so people won't know she's related to Sybil (she was played by Katy Allen for the rest of that series). In the spinoff (where Felicity Jones is back playing her) she is at a college and doesn't have to worry about being embarassed by her little sister so of course she removed the "witch-over".
  • Genre Savvy: Miss Crotchet gains this towards the end of season 3. In The Unfairground, she says that even though she has only been at the school for a year, she knows how arguments go between the teachers. Miss Hardbroom will argue for a change in the treatment of the pupils, Miss Drill will argue in favour of the pupils, she will say something and get ignored, then Miss Cackle will enter the argument and everything will revert to status quo.
    • However, things don't pan out like that in that episode.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Mildred keeps these during The Worst Witch. At the end of the first episode of Weirdsister College she cuts them off after Nick and Ethel make fun of her.
  • Heel Face Turn: Drusilla toward the end of season 3 of the television series
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Played straight and averted, all with Mildred. She's liked by at least four boys in the original series - Merlin Langstaff, Barry Dragonsbane, Garry Grailsquest, and Charlie Blossom - when she is a brunette. In the spin off, Weirdsister College this trope is played straight, with Ben Stemson and Nick Hobbes (though the latter isn't really a 'hero')
  • Huge Schoolgirl: Enid Nightshade in the book series was described as very large and shy, though really she had a secret evil (ish) spark that she used her size and relative newness to the school to disguise, much to Worst Witch Mildred's chagrin. In the live action series, however, Enid was played be a very small (and more visibly spunky) actress.
  • Hypocritical Humour: Miss Cackle catches Miss Drill and Miss Bat spying on Mr Hallow through the keyhole and sends them away to their classes. Once they're gone, she takes a good look herself.
  • Important Haircut: See Girlish Pigtails above. Lampshaded by Cass in the second episode, "do you really think cutting your hair is going to fix everything?"
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: In an episode, Mildred and Enid accidentally cast a spell that causes written down numbers to multiply and spread around the entire school. Ms Hardbroom stops the spell and remarks "as for these girls, I think their number's up". She allows herself a giggle before realising that nobody else is laughing.
  • Inept Mage: Mildred Hubble.
  • International Coproduction: The series was co-producted by HTV, a UK company, and Gala Films, a Canadian company.
  • Karma Houdini: Belladonna Bindweed in The New Worst Witch, especially in the first series, where she plays Teacher's Pet for all it's worth. Especially noticable in the series finale, where she is actively and willingly aiding the villains in their plans to take over Cackle's and bring chaos and misery to the world, and yet manages to get off without any form of retribution. At the end of the episode, she even lampshades her own Karma Houdini status, smugly stating that she gets away with most things.
  • Large Ham: Tim Curry as the Grand Wizard
    • The Dragon Lord from the series as well.
  • Meaningful Name: Everyone's surname has something to do with witchcraft.
    • Miss Drill is an exception; her name relates to being a PE teacher.
    • Miss Crotchet's refers to the fact she is a music teacher.
    • Mr. Blossom (both of them) refers to the fact he is a gardner.
  • Named by the Adaptation: In the books, Maud's last name wasn't revealed until "The Worst Witch All At Sea" where she is called Maud Spellbody. The TV series gave her the last name "Moonshine". Drucilla was also given the last name "Paddock". The teachers' first names weren't revealed in the books but the TV series says Miss Cackle is Amelia, Miss Hardbroom is Constance, Miss Bat is Davina and Miss Drill is Imogen.
  • No Export for You: This is an odd example, but the entire series, including Weirdsister College, The New Worst Witch and the movie from the 80's, is available on dvd ... in Australia.
    • Thankfully for fans of the show, however, the Region Coding on the box is wrong. The discs are set for region 0, not region 4.
      • Australian law forbids the selling of region-encoded DVDs or DVD players. Considering they're the only English-speaking country in the region, this makes perfect sense.
  • The Other Darrin: The series featured three such changes.
    • The first one saw Felicity Jones replaced as Ethel Hallow by Katy Allen for seasons two and three, which was explained away as a "makeover". Jones later returned for the role in the fourth season (Weirdsister College).
    • Fenella Feverfew was played by Julia Malewski for the first season and Emily Stride for the third.
    • The character of Miss Hardbroom was also played by two different actresses: Kate Duch êne in the first three seasons, and Caroline O'Neill in The New Worst Witch.
    • In fact, only Georgina Sherrington (Mildred) has appeared in all three incarnations of the show.
  • Overtook the Series: The television series as at the time the books only went up to The Worst Witch All At Sea.
  • Painful Rhyme: Tim Curry's big song features every conceivable word that rhymes with "Halloween," and many that aren't.
  • Playing Against Type: In-show example. Miss Hardbroom plays the Fairy Godmother in the school play of Cinderella.
    • When Mildred and Jadu were about to be expelled for creating a clandestine newspaper and organizing a secret student meeting instigating the rebelliousness of the whole school, Maud, Ruby, Enid and Drusilla tried to help their friends go back to Cackle's graces by invoking an unicorn that turns out to be Morgana, the evil witch from The Sleeping Beauty. The woman ends up mistaking Mildred for a princess and Miss Hardbroom for one of the Fairy Godmothers (The others being Miss Crotchet and Miss Drill).
  • Power Trio: Mildred, Maud and Enid. Later, Weirdsister College had Mildred, Cass, and Ethel, and The New Worst Witch had Hettie, Mona and Cressie.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Miss Hardbroom keeps her hair tyed up in a really tight bun 24/7 except for the Halloween celebrations where the girls are amazed that it goes right down to her waist. Mildred remarks that she doesn't look half as frightening when her hair is down.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Pointed hats and robes are FANCY/Formal dress. The student wear variations on their school colors of black even grey in their off hours. Including their pyjamas.
  • Sister Becky: The live action adapations saw three such changes. The first one saw Felicity Jones replaced as Ethel Hallow by Katy Allen for seasons two and three, which was explained away as a "witchover". Jones later returned for the role in Weirdsister College, with no explanation given. Fenella Feverfew was played by Julia Malewski for the first season and Emily Stride for the third. The character of Miss Hardbroom was also played by two different actresses: Kate Duchene in the first three seasons, and Caroline O'Neill in The New Worst Witch. In fact, only Georgina Sherrington, who played Mildred, has appeared in all three incarnations of the show.
  • School Play: There's two... nearly. One episode featured the girls rehearsing for a production of The Selfish Giant, only for Enid to drop the scenery on Ethel. The production is never mentioned in after that episode though other episodes imply Miss Drill does them regularly. The Christmas Special the following year featured the characters in a pantomime of Cinderella.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Miss Crotchet for Miss Bat in the third season of the television series. Also Mr. Blossom's brother.
  • Those Two Guys: There were at least three seperate sets.
    • Fenella and Griselda
    • Baz and Gaz
    • Sybil and Clarice
    • Tim and Azmat in Weirdsister College
  • Token Minorities: Ruby, a Token Black, and Jadu, a Token Asian in the tv series.
    • Azmat Madari in Weirdsister College would also count.
  • Teacher's Pet: Belladonna in The New Worst Witch often plays this role, especially in the first series, though unlike most examples of the trope she has no real respect or admiration for the teachers and is basically just sucking up to them in order to make herself look good and everyone else look bad.
  • Troubled but Cute: Hobbes in Weirdsister College. There's no doubting that he isn't an entirely pleasant person, but as the last episode reveals, he was bullied some point prior to coming to the college, and it could be argued much of his behaviour stems from that.
    • Ethel could arguably be considered a female version of this trope. Yes, she's unpleasant, but there also seems to be an implication of having to live up to family standards - it's notable in Weirdsister College when asked why she came to the college she responds with simply "I'm a Hallow". This is shown with her interactions with Sybil during their time at Cackles; both have to live up to extreme family standards.
  • Two-Teacher School: Cackle's seems to survive on only having four teachers, and Weirdsister's runs with four lecturers as well.
  • Twin Switch: A sinister version occurs in the season one finale. Miss Cackle's evil twin, Agatha, locks her sister in a cupboard and proceeds to masquearade as her to launch her revenge against Cackle's Academy.
  • Unnecessary Makeover: Mildred Hubble gives herself a radical makeover in the first episode of the spin-off Weirdsister College that involves cutting off her Girlish Pigtails. The other characters make a big fuss about how much better she looks except she gave herself an extremely frumpy hairstyle that made her look like she was in her 30s. She tidied herself up a bit towards the end of the series but most fans still preferred her with pigtails.
  • Wizarding School: Cackle's Academy. Well, Witching School, obviously, but it's the same principle. Also pre-dates Hogwarts by 23 years. Another (boys') school for wizards had been mentioned since the early season, and finally appears in the episode "Better Dead Than Co-Ed".
  • Working Title: Weirdsister College had a working title of The Worst Witch: The College Years (and ended up being used in an autumn CITV promo.)
  • You Suck: Mildred Hubble is gangly, funny looking- and no bloody good at anything. Even her cat, the imaginatively named Tabby, is a misfit. She got into the school on a scholarship, because Miss Cackle liked a story she wrote, just in case people were wondering how she managed to pass the entrance exam to the Academy.