Tu-whoo or Not Tu-whoo? | Talking Beasts

By popular request, we are beginning a series of discussions about BBC’s 1990 television mini-series adaptation of The Silver Chair, which is generally reputed to be the best in the series. Listen to our thoughts and reactions to the first episode and then post a comment below!

Rilian, Gymfan, Glumpuddle

Watch the post-show chatter.

10 Responses

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks, you three, for a truly delightful episode. I’ve never seen any of these BBC TV adaptations — although I’ve learned quite a bit about them since discovering Narniaweb last year — so I went into this completely blind. As a big book fan, I’ll admit I was a little disappointed at first that you put a pause on your Magician’s Nephew read-through … but those thoughts disappeared as soon as I started listening to this episode this morning. You had me in absolute stitches, particularly during the whole “Tu-whoo” saga and the bit about Narnian tourism booming (honestly, I’m starting to chuckle again now thinking about Rilian’s Mary Poppins chimney sweep owl voice), but I also appreciated the serious analysis of Jill’s character and the lack of despair portrayed at Experiment House. Thank you for bringing some much-needed smiles to my Friday morning. I can’t wait for the next episode!

  2. Cleander says:

    This is certainly my [current] favorite of the BBC adaptations! Overall, even though the effects were still awful, there’s perhaps less of a gap between what they were capable of and what the story demanded…. especially with less people in critter costumes.
    That said, Warwick’s Glimfeather is the most unintentionally hilarious thing about this! My siblings and I are constantly imitating his “tU-wHoO”… we burst out laughing when, after quietly observing the children from behind for a few minutes, he just suddenly explodes into the conversation with “TU WHOOO!” I like to imagine this version of Glimfeather sneaking up behind his friends and ‘TU WHOO-ing’ at the top of his lungs to give them a good fright.
    Looking forward to your thoughts on Tom Baker’s performance!

  3. jasmine_tarkheena says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve watched the BBC Narnia series. Though I remember enjoying them. They’re not the best, I’ll admit. I’m looking forward to the discussion about The Silver Chair episode by episode.

  4. Glenwit says:

    I could never quite determine if Glimfeather was supposed to literally be saying “Tu-whoo” or if it was Mr. Lewis’ best attempt at owlish onomatopoeia. Although I suppose BBC chose the former.

    Although I will say that the Silver Chair was hands-down my favourite in the series, and none of them were truly misfires except for Prince Caspian.

  5. Narnian78 says:

    I think the BBC series works better as movies than separate episodes since the segments are too short. The continuous story without interruptions or cliffhangers works better for me. The Silver Chair was definitely the best of the series with the fine acting and mostly accurate story adaptation. It looks somewhat dated, but I highly recommend this BBC production very highly.

  6. Courtenay Rule says:

    Tu-whoo, tu-whoo, what a to-dooooo!!! Oh gosh, it’s years since I last saw that and I’d forgotten how AWFUL Warwick’s vocal performance as Glimfeather is. As you say, he’s not attempting to make anything like a realistic owl hoot, or indeed to sound anything like one might imagine a real Talking Owl would sound like…
    Really interesting commentary on this mini-series, which I agree is the best overall of the BBC versions, despite its many shortcomings — I’d also almost forgotten how totally inadequate Ronald Pickup and the puppet are when it comes to conveying the fear and gravitas of the scene by the stream. But I do agree the young actors playing Jill and Eustace gave it their best and did a great job even where the scripting wasn’t always good, and I certainly remember this series does pick up as it goes along. I am really looking forward to hearing what you guys have to say about Tom Baker, who for me absolutely NAILED the role of Puddleglum!!

  7. Col Klink says:

    I agree with the podcasters that, apart from the story of course, the actors for Jill and Eustace are the best part of this episode. I wasn’t really bugged by Jill pushing back against the bullies like Glumpuddle was because she strikes me as a defensive, somewhat aggressive character. I always imagined her making some kind of protest while she was being bullied. I’ll admit though that if I’d been directing, I would have told Camilla Power to make it seem like she was holding back tears during that scene. I guess it has to do with how they adapted it by making it more of an action scene with Jill and Eustace running from the bullies instead of Eustace finding Jill crying.

    I agree with Glumpuddle that the pacing for this episode was good except for that really cheesy scene of Eustace falling off the cliff.

    I’ve got to confess that when I “hear” Glimfeather in my mind, I was always hearing someone saying, “tu-whoo,” not an owl noise. (Well, maybe a little more like an owl noise than what Warwick Davis did.) I also don’t have a super strong idea of Glimfeather’s personality. To the extent that I do, I imagine him as being kind of flighty (pardon the terrible wordplay) during the day, so maybe that’s why I wasn’t bugged by him in this adaptation as much as Glumpuddle was. And I actually quite like his costume, mainly because you can’t see the actor’s face sticking out. That’s what annoys me about the beavers’ costumes (well, that and the actors’ legs being stuck inside the bodies) and even Reepicheep’s. For other viewers, it may be the other way around and they feel hiding the human face robs them of expressiveness. I prefer not to see an obviously human face because it’s farther away from what I imagine when I read about the talking beasts (the characters, not the podcast) in the books.

  8. jasmine_tarkheena says:

    There’s a stage show of The Silver Chair that Encore! Theatre put on some years ago.


  9. Geekicheep says:

    Funny thing about “tu-whoo”… as a kid, I read it as “who”, as in who are you? To me, the Glimfeather of the book went “Tu-hooo, tu-hoo!” Like we always learn as kids that owls go “hoo” and even the name for their sound is “hoot”. I laughed so hard at “Tu-whoo”! Also, glad I’m not the only one who noticed the muffled, “mask-y” sound of his voice. Also, I really liked the “two tuh-woo’s” joke. 😀

  10. Narnian78 says:

    Glimfeather seemed more like a robot than an owl. Warwick Davis’ voice was so mechanical and he was unlike the bold Reepicheep that he played so convincingly. I don’t think the owl costume was so bad, but it was his voice that was so unreal for a talking bird. The talking animals should be more like the real ones. I can see why the BBC wanted Warwick back because of his great performance as the mouse, but maybe he should have been given a different role than Glimfeather.