The Worst Witch

CBBC brings The Worst Witch to life for a new generation

Top 15 facts about The Worst Witch

Date: 11.12.2016     Last updated: 11.12.2016 at 15.00
  • The school is actually a composite of two castles – Peckforton Castle in Cheshire and Burg Hohenzollern in the Swabian Alps, Germany. Filming took place at both locations and, once the VFX team got to work, the two castles were made to look like one.
  • The production design team developed a bespoke language for the programme called Witchenese. This is a combination of many ancient languages, including moon glyphs, Celtic symbols and Nordic markings. If you look closely, you’ll see Witchenese all over the set - on the walls, on books… keep your eyes peeled!
  • The programme grew its own snails from snailings to full grown adults for Mr Rowan-Webb’s classroom. They were fed on a special snail powder. The crew named them, Turbo, Storm, GTI, Slimy, Leafanator and Antenny.
  • Over 820 wigs were joined together to make Mildred’s creeping hair for episode eight, The First Witch. This made nearly a kilometre of hair.
  • The school pond that Mildred and Maud crash into in episode one was heated to 23 degrees like a warm bath so the girls didn’t get too cold during filming.
  • There are over 900 bottles in the potions lab –all different shapes, sizes and fillings. They are labelled with potions such as tears of a fairy, goblin intestine and smell and juice of violet.
  • The cauldrons were made from goldfish bowls to enable the audience to see the colour and bubbling of the potions inside.
  • It took over 200 bags of plaster and 400 litres of paint to create the stone walls of the classrooms, corridors and bedrooms of the castle set.
  • There are over 75 ornamental owls and 120 ornamental cats spread around Miss Cackle’s office.
  • Over 200 costumes were bespoke made for the series. This included hand knitted jumpers for Miss Cackle as well as 100 witches hats! Each cape takes six metres of fabric to create the full circle design and if you look closely at the lining they have a cobweb design. The inspiration for the piping on the school shirts came from a German castle ceiling design.
  • The teachers and students have different school badges.
  • Lessons taught at Cackle’s Academy include Potions, Chanting, Spell Science, Physical Education [including broomstick flying and witchball] and Witchory [history as we know it but retold from a witchy angle].
  • Every girl has an official school cat which are all pure black, except Mildred’s which is a tabby and would easily take the title of Worst Cat [filming took four months and in that time Milo, the kitten Mildred finds in the kitchen in episode one, grew up enough to be used as an adult cat later in the show. It wasn’t always easy to get the cats to do what was needed though during filming. As Executive Producer Marcus Wilson says, "it was literally like trying to herd cats!"
  • The girls at Cackle’s share a unique experience, so it’s not surprising they share their own language too.

    Bats = crazy
    Bubbling = on fire
    Crone = more experienced witch
    Foul = great, based on Macbeth’s "fair is foul and foul is fair"
    Hutch = school bedroom
    Shrew –high praise for a crafty witch.

    Sayings include: "build that girl a gingerbread house"; "the bat’s pyjamas" and "she’s not the sharpest bristle in the broomstick".
  • Jill Murphy wrote the books over 42 years ago. She based the story and characters on her experience as a school girl at a strict catholic school. Mildred is based on herself - a bright, well-intentioned but accident-prone working class girl with a tendency to daydream.