The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a British children’s television drama first broadcast by the BBC in 1988. It was the first series of The Chronicles of Narnia that ran from 1988 to 1990.
In the magical land of Narnia, there is always winter but never Christmas due to the tyrannical rule of the White Witch. The Witch fears a prophecy which states that two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve will be crowned kings and queens of Narnia, ending her life. When she learns that the four Pevensie children have arrived in Narnia, she will stop at nothing to prevent them from fulfilling this prophecy. However, the Great Lion Aslan is on the move to help the four children to save Narnia.
Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie are siblings who are sent to live with Professor Digory Kirke in the country side during World War 2. Whilst exploring the house one day, Lucy who is the youngest discovers a mysterious wardrobe and on entering it, finds herself in the middle of a snowy wood with a lamp post. She encounters a faun who introduces himself as Mr. Tumnus and reveals that Lucy has entered the land of Narnia. The seemingly kind faun invites Lucy to his cave for some tea and plays a tune on his flute which forces her into a deep sleep where she sees visions of what Narnia used to be like before the “endless” winter. Lucy suddenly wakes up and realises she must go home but Mr. Tumnus breaks down and reveals that he is employed (albeit unwillingly) by the evil White Witch, who makes it “always winter but never Christmas” in Narnia. The Witch has ordered all Narnians to hand over any humans (or ‘Sons of Adam’ and ‘ Daughters of Eve’ as they are known) should they spot any in Narnia. The faun realises he cannot hand over Lucy to the evil Witch, having understood what humans are like once he met her. He guides her back to the lamp post and she returns back through the Wardrobe. Lucy tells her siblings of what she discovered in the wardrobe but they find nothing when they look. This, along with the fact that no time passed on Earth when Lucy entered the wardrobe, lead her siblings to believe that Lucy has been lying. Peter and Susan kindly try to get Lucy to admit that it was “just a story”, while Edmund makes spiteful comments like “found any new countries in the wardrobe?”.
A few days later, during a game of hide and seek, Lucy returns to the wardrobe and Edmund follows her. To Edmund’s shock, he finds that Lucy was telling the truth about the country in the back of the wardrobe, but Lucy is nowhere to be seen when he enters Narnia. He carries on walking and calling out through the forest, when suddenly he hears a jingling of bells, and is approached by a great white-skinned lady on a horse-drawn sledge.
The lady introduces herself as the Queen of Narnia and demands to know what Edmund is. On learning that Edmund is a son of Adam, she invites him to set on her sledge, and gives him a hot drink and Turkish delight. During their conversation, Edmund informs the Queen that he has a brother and two sisters and that Lucy had previously been to Narnia and met a faun. The Queen asks Edmund to return to his own world and bring his siblings to her house in Narnia, saying she will give him more Turkish delight if he does. She also makes him the offer of becoming a prince and then king of Narnia. Edmund is delighted by the Queen’s offers. After the Queen leaves, Edmund heads back to the lamp post and is approached by an excited Lucy, who reveals that she has been with Mr. Tumnus, who has not been caught by the White Witch. When Lucy describes the White Witch, Edmund shockingly realises that she is none other than the lady he had just befriended – however, he does not tell Lucy of his encounter with her at this stage. Lucy is too excited to be alarmed by Edmund’s facial expressions when he realises who the White Witch is, and does not question him when he asks what the White Witch looks like – which could be seen as a likely hint that he has met or at least seen the White Witch.
Back in their own country, Lucy tells Peter and Susan that Edmund has also got into Narnia, but Edmund lies saying that he and Lucy were only pretending that Narnia existed. Peter is furious with Edmund for setting Lucy off, especially after Edmund had been treating Lucy cruelly over her ‘false’ stories of Narnia. Peter and Susan seek advice from Professor Kirke who is completely convinced that logically, Lucy is telling the truth – as she clearly isn’t a liar and is obviously not “mad”. A few days pass and the four children are on the run from the Professor’s housekeeper who is hosting a tour of the house. They end up hiding in the wardrobe and all find themselves in Narnia, realising that Lucy was indeed right. Lucy guides them to Mr. Tumnus’s cave, but find him gone and his cave ransacked. They discover a note, signed by Maugrim – captain of the secret police – saying that Mr. Tumnus has been arrested for high treason against the Queen of Narnia, which includes fraternising with humans.
Lucy tells the others that the Queen is really the White Witch and convinces them to do something to save Mr. Tumnus, as she feels responsible for him being arrested. They travel on and soon encounter Mr. Beaver, who proves to be a friend by showing them a handkerchief which Lucy had given to Mr. Tumnus earlier. Mr. Beaver informs the children that Aslan is on the move – the name Aslan invokes an odd feeling in all four children. Mr. Beaver takes the children to his home. There, he and his wife Mrs. Beaver reveal that Mr. Tumnus was taken to the Witch’s house and that he would have been turned into stone, as are most Narnians who go there. The children are given more information on Aslan, who is the Great Lion and the true king of Narnia who will save Mr. Tumnus. The Beavers also reveal that the children are part of a prophecy that states that two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve will be crowned as Kings and Queens of Narnia, thus ending the reign of the White Witch – it is for this reason that the White Witch is always looking out for humans in Narnia. They eventually realise that Edmund has disappeared – Mr. Beaver instantly realises that he has betrayed them to the White Witch. He is more convinced of this when he learns that Edmund had previously been to Narnia alone and not told his siblings what he had done or who he had met. He first had his suspicions about Edmund when first seeing him, as he “had the look of one who had been with the witch”.
The Beavers realise that the Witch will soon come after them and prepare for their journey to meet Aslan at the Stone Table. Edmund arrives at the Witch’s house – the Witch is furious that he came alone and even more furious when he tells her that Aslan has come to Narnia.
The Witch sends Maugrim to kill the Beavers and Edmund’s siblings. When Maugrim and another wolf arrive at the Beaver’s house, they discover it empty and on the Witch’s orders, make their way to the Stone Table, with the harsh weather meaning that they have no tracks or scent to follow. The Witch, Edmund and her dwarf head for the Stone Table on her sledge, while the beavers and the other three children set off on foot and eventually reach a cave. Mr. Beaver explains that it is an old hiding place for beavers in bad times, and that they need to stop for a few hours of sleep.
The next morning, the Beavers and the children hear sleigh bells and think it is the Witch. However, to their delight, it is not the Witch but Father Christmas who gives gifts to the children – for Peter, a sword and shield, for Susan a horn and bow and arrow and for Lucy a cordial and a dagger.
Meanwhile, the Witch come across a group of animals sharing a Christmas feast and demands to know where they got it. A fox reveals that Father Christmas gave it to them for which they are turned into stone. Signs of the Witch’s magic being weakened are evident when the snow melts, turning into spring. The spring forces the Witch to travel on foot with Edmund to the stone table.
The children and the Beavers arrive safely at the Stone Table and are greeted warmly by Aslan and his followers. They inform Aslan of Edmund’s betrayal and Aslan promises to do all he can to save Edmund. Peter is shown a far-off sight of Cair Paravel, the castle where he and his siblings will be crowned. Susan soon blows her horn (something Father Christmas advised her to do when she is in danger). Maugrim has arrived and scares the followers of Aslan and engages Peter in a battle, which the latter wins, being crowned Sir Peter Wolf’s Bane by Aslan. Aslan also sends many of his followers to rescue Edmund when he sees one of Maugrim’s wolves running to inform the White Witch. They manage to rescue Edmund, just as the Witch is about to kill him. Edmund is safely returned where he patches up with his siblings. The Witch approaches the Stone Table, demanding right over Edmund’s life, as according to the deep magic all traitors belong to her. In a private conversation with the Witch, Aslan convinces her to spare Edmund. He advises Peter on the upcoming battle against the Witch and her army and informs him that he himself cannot promise to be there. Later that night, Susan and Lucy who have noticed Aslan’s sorrowful state since his conversation with the Witch, accompany Aslan out of the camp. They reach the Stone Table where Aslan tells them to stay hidden. The Witch and her army are waiting there where they bind Aslan to the stone table, shave and muzzle him. The Witch then reveals that Aslan had agreed to be killed instead of Edmund and tells Aslan, that nothing can stop her from killing Edmund once Aslan is dead. She then kills Aslan with her knife and leads her followers into war.
After the Witch and her army leave the camp, Susan and Lucy tearfully stay by Aslan’s body. In the morning, they hear a loud crash and discover the Table has cracked and that Aslan’s body is gone. Aslan soon reveals that he is alive and well, much to the happiness of Susan and Lucy who joyfully embrace him. Aslan reveals that he was saved from death due to a deeper magic which the Witch did not know, having only entered Narnia at the dawn of time. The deeper magic states that when a willing victim who has committed no crime offers his life in place of a traitor, the Stone Table will crack, reversing death. Aslan brings the girls to the Witch’s castle where he restores all the stone victims of the Witch, including Mr. Tumnus. Meanwhile, the battle is in full swing with the Witch having turned many of Aslan’s army into stone. Edmund destroys her wand, but is wounded in the process. Aslan arrives with those he saved at the Witch’s castle. He roars so loudly that the ground the Witch is standing on begins to shake, forcing her to fall to her death. Lucy uses her magic cordial to restore all those injured, including Edmund who is knighted by Aslan. The next day, Aslan leads his followers to Cair Paravel where he crowns the Pevensie children as kings and queens of Narnia. He then leaves, much to the dismay of the Pevensie children. Mr. Beaver informs them that Aslan will come and go, as he has other countries to attend to. He also tells them that Aslan is wild and not a tame lion. The Pevensie children rule Narnia many years, keeping peace. One day, they are travelling through the forest and discover the same lamp post which they passed on entering Narnia through the wardrobe as children. They ponder over what the object is whilst they walk further on. They soon find themselves back through the wardrobe, children once again. They realise that no time has gone by since they entered Narnia. They tell the Professor of their adventures in Narnia and he easily believes them, implying that they are not the only children to have experienced such an adventure.
- Richard Dempsey as Peter
- Sophie Cook as Susan
- Jonathan R. Scott as Edmund
- Sophie Wilcox as Lucy
- Barbara Kellerman as The White Witch
- Kerry Shale as Mr. Beaver
- Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Beaver
- Big Mick as Ginaarbrik
- Ailsa Berk as Aslan
- Martin Stone as Maugrim
- William Todd-Jones as Aslan
- Keith Hodiak as Aslan’s Satyr
- Garfield Brown as Aslan’s Satyr
- Ronald Pickup as Aslan
- Irene Marot as Hag
- Kairen Kemp as Hag
- Jeffrey S. Perry as Mr. Tumnus
- Michael Aldridge as Professor Digory Kirke
- Ken Kitson as Giant Rumblebuffin
- Christopher Bramwell as Peter (adult)
- Suzanne Debney as Susan (adult)
- Charles Ponting as Edmund (adult)
- Juliet Waley as Lucy (adult)
- Maureen Morris as Mrs. Macready
- Bert Parnaby as Father Christmas