28 Nov 2017

A meeting of the minds: Cal Cashin vs Raven

Hello, Cal Cashin here. Everybody knows the best TV programme of their youth was Raven. If your Year 2 playtime didn't consist of you recreating the Way Of The Warrior, what did it consist of? From his eternal catchphrase of "Let the Challenge Begin", to his raven's head staff, the Celtic bird spirit of Raven is the most iconic figure of all of our pasts.

I interviewed James Mackenzie, aka Raven himself, for a uni project that shan't ever see the light of day, so in order for my interview to see the light of day I thought to publish it here. Let the interview begin.

Why do you think Raven was so successful as a TV show?
I think Raven was so successful as a TV show because of the premise. The Celtic medieval mythical elements all seemed to mix perfectly along with the challenge and game show element of the programme, appealing to the viewer. When Raven was first shown the world was still gripped by the mania of Lord of the rings, so I think that also helped!! Fundamentally I think it’s because, as a viewer you would watch the challenges and think.... I’d love to have a go at that!

And why do you think now is the perfect time to bring it back? What are your thoughts on it returning?
I would say there’s never a perfect time to bring it back, as it should never have gone away! I’m delighted it is coming back however. It’s been so heartening, encouraging, and gratifying to see so much love out there for the show. I’m biased obviously, as I’m its biggest fan. It holds a special place in my heart and has been a massive part of my life. Both myself and the show went on a huge journey over the course of it airing. I will always be eternally grateful for it being part of my life and career. I’m excited to be part of it as it is revealed to a whole new generation and set of fans. Long may it continue its cult status!

How long did it take you each day to get changed into your Raven gear?
To get changed it didn’t take long, maybe 5 Minutes. When you’re filming constantly over a period of weeks it just becomes second nature. It was almost my everyday attire! The makeup and hairstyling took a little longer, and then it was just a question of throwing on the feathers!

Raven yielding so many good catchphrases. What is your personal favourite?
Need you ask?! It has to be the iconic “let the challenge begin”.

What is your fondest memory of the show?
My fondest memory would have to be when, just before the cameras rolled for the challenge “the last stand” a young warrior farted really loudly because they were so nervous and excited! As you can imagine, we all then had to take a few moments as everyone was doubled over with laughter. Oh and other fondest memories; all of the time spent in India filming “The Secret Temple”. A once in a lifetime unforgettable experience!

Because Raven also had that element of magic, my younger self worried that maybe the show's actual competition wasn't fair. Is this a true worry or completely unfounded?
You worried too much! I can see your point, but no. The magic was mostly done in post production. The competitive nature of the show meant that it had to be absolutely fair and transparent, remember this is the BBC we are talking about, it couldn’t be anything other than fair and impartial.

Do you reckon your young self would get very far as a young warrior on the show?
Absolutely not! I was always pretty useless at sports at school and as I got older my fear of heights seemed to increase, so I think I would probably have been rather rubbish! That’s why I always had such awe and admiration for the young people that took part. What they achieved was brilliant and for some of them it was life changing. It gave a lot of them a confidence they hadn't had prior to the show and it also formed long lasting friendships.

What are you up to these days?
I’m just a jobbing actor, I always have been. I was lucky during my time as Raven that I was able to still do other work. I’m a self employed actor, which means I do anything for money! Theatre, TV, voiceovers, you name it! I’ve done a few stage plays this year, along with some voice work, plus a bit of script development for BAFTA. I am shortly about to begin rehearsals for pantomime (oh no I’m not!) so that will keep me busy till after the new year. Plus I have a 2 and a half year old, so he keeps us pretty busy between jobs!

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The new series of Raven starts on 4th December. Tune in!

(Words: Cal Cashin)