For those not in the know, December 2011 saw the Pagan blogosphere buzzing with news of a new documentary on Gerald Gardner: Britain’s Wicca Man with Prof. Ronald Hutton, a film produced by Ross Wilson and directed by Andrew Abbott and Russ Leven. It was commissioned from an independent television production company, Matchlight, by Britain’s Channel 4, and it was originally supposed to air in Great Britain on February 20th, 2012.
But even though only British citizens would be able to see its original airing, Witches across the globe were excited for the broadcast because it looked like the filmmakers had put together a beautiful, professional, and respectful product. They even released this amazing trailer to whet our viewing appetites:
But February 20th came…and it went. And those of us in America heard very little from our British friends. It appeared that either BBC4 did not air the film as scheduled, or that they only released it online with strict viewing allowances. Despite hours of scouring the Internet for reviews of the documentary, news for future broadcasts, or any comments at all, I could find nothing. I couldn’t even find a torrent to illegally download the film! When I attempted to contact Matchlight to gain information on future broadcasts and to inquire about legally purchasing a copy of the film, I was soundly rebuffed. For months afterward, the only information I could find at all on Britain’s Wicca Man was that it existed, but that few outside the production company had ever seen it.
But, lo and behold, at 6:30 pm on Sunday, June 9th, the documentary finally aired on Australian television. The program was featured as episode 15 of ABC1’s Compass, a 30-minute program presented by Geraldine Doogue that “explores the interface between religion and life as experienced by individuals and communities – including ordinary Australians, public leaders, religious thinkers and philosophers.” At least one friendly (though ethically plastic) Australian promptly copied the program and put it on YouTube, where we can see it now:
Unfortunately, Compass truncated the original production, which was 50-60 minutes long, to fit its half-hour slot. I fervently hope that one day soon we’ll be able to watch the documentary in its entirety! (And legally!)
UPDATE: The full 60-minute version (well, 43 minutes when you take advertising into account) was finally shown on Britain’s “More 4” channel on Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 9 p.m. It was aired under the title A Very British Witchcraft. Luckily for us, friend of Three Hundred and Sixty-Six Alder Lyncurium uploaded the fuller version to YouTube. The video quality is a little shaky, and the sound is slightly off for a good part of the video, but it’s still plenty watch-able.