Raven (2002 TV series)
Raven is a BBC Scotland children's adventure game show. It originally aired on CBBC in the United Kingdom from 16 December 2002 to March 2010, over the course of ten series, with three spin-offs. In the original release, the show was hosted by James Mackenzie who played the title role, and conducted a group of six children, known as warriors, over five days through a series of tasks and feats. At various stages in the adventure, the group loses the least successful warrior, until two go through to the final week to compete for the title of Ultimate Warrior.
Raven title card (2017-present)
|Genre||Children's game show|
|Presented by||James Mackenzie (2002–2010)|
Aisha Toussaint (2017–)
|Starring||James Mackenzie (2002–)|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||15 (12 regular, 3 spin-offs)|
|No. of episodes||290|
|Running time||30 minutes|
CBBC HD (2017–)
BBC Alba (2018)
|Original release||Original series:|
16 December 2002 – 11 March 2010
4 December 2017 –
|Related shows||Raven: The Island|
Raven: The Secret Temple
Raven: The Dragon's Eye
The series returned in 2017 with a new lead hosting the show, Aisha Toussaint as Raven with Mackenzie's character also appears in the show, renamed as "Raven of Old". Filming began in July 2017 with the original airing for the eleventh series started on 4 December 2017. The revived series sees Raven conducts four warriors over three days and one goes through to the final week to compete for the title of True Warrior.
This format of the show features three groups of six warriors who compete in various challenges over the course of three (broadcast) weeks. Each group features for five days, and after the first day, the warrior with the least number of lives and rings must face the Way of the Warrior, an elimination challenge deciding whether they would continue to the next day or not. Only two warriors in each week go through to compete in the final week of the quest, where one becomes the Ultimate Warrior.
Each warrior starts out with a number of lives, represented by feathers on a standard. The number of lives started was 7 from Series 1–3, and this changed to 9 lives from Series 4 onwards. Warriors also received symbolic emblems that follow them throughout their quest. Losing any challenge meant the loss of life, but these could be won back, by winning at least 7 (Series 2–3), later 9, gold rings, although in Series 1, the final day's challenges were played to win back lives. To lose all lives from a standard meant the warrior was eliminated from the process.
At the end of days 1–4 (Series 1), days 2–4 (Series 2–10), and 5 in the final weeks, the warrior with the least number of lives and rings must face the Way of the Warrior, a complex and difficult series of obstacles that only four warriors, (Ishal, Varna, Worjo and Kinsa), have ever completed. Only in Series 1 that warriors volunteer to do the challenge but in the first day, no-one was sent home. Should a warrior reach the portal at the end of the Way of the Warrior, they will be admitted through to the next day of the quest, and the task must then fall upon the next warrior with the least number of lives and rings. This process continues until somebody is eliminated. If there was a tie on lives and rings, a drawing of feathers decides which one would face the challenge, that warrior being the one who picked the black feather.
Raven conducts four groups of four warriors (the Bears, the Wolves, the Wild Cats, and the Stags), similar to the spin-off shows, in a three-day chunk in which they start off with six rings. They would lose one if they were claimed by a demon and Raven rescued them from Nevar's realm with her staff of power, instead of the feathered lives seen previously. The warrior with the fewest rings leaves at the end of the second day, leaving the three remaining warriors to face off against each other in The Last Stand on the third day. Whoever wins The Last Stand proceeds to represent their group in the Grand Tournament. In the Grand Tournament, the format is similar to the heats with the warrior with the fewest rings leaving on the second day and the remaining three facing off in the Tournaments version of The Last Stand. The winner earns the title of a True Warrior and becomes part of Raven's army to eventually take down Nevar.
Raven (James Mackenzie): Originally from the Island of Alaunus, Raven is an ancient, immortal Scottish warlord and the warriors' guide throughout the quest; his name refers to his ability to shape-shift. He can read the warriors' thoughts, usually from the Raven's Eye in his staff of power, and he recaps what has happened previously on the quest, and both gives and takes away the warriors' lives from their standards. He has an elaborate style of speech, which has generated some catchphrases, including, "Are you ready? Then let the challenge... begin", and, "May the luck of the Raven's Eye be with you". Since the eleventh tournament began, the character's name was altered to 'Raven of Old', with his staff of power having been passed on to the new Raven. From series 12 onwards, he provides commentary on the challenges when they are played and is shown watching the warriors using a talisman.
Raven (II) (Aisha Toussaint): In Series 11 & 12, Aisha Toussaint plays Raven, sharing the same name as Mackenzie's character. Originally one of Raven of Old's warriors, she fought alongside him in the final battle against Nevar, during which he was banished to a desolate realm. However, Nevar used six magic symbols he had crafted in order to banish Raven of Old to the same realm with him. Upon finding the original six symbols, she recovered Raven of Old's staff of power, and became 'Raven' in the process. She now leads the warriors through the eleventh and twelfth tournaments, and the catchphrase of the previous tournaments said by Raven of Old returned. She is able to use her staff to temporarily summon Raven of Old whenever she is in need of guidance.
Nevar: A mysterious figure who wears a black-hooded cloak and an iron mask, introduced in the second series and described as the enemy of all that is good and true, and Raven's arch enemy. While the forging of the six golden symbols returned magic to Raven's homeland, it also brought the vile scourge of Nevar, whose sole aim is to defeat Raven and conquer the land. All that can be seen of Nevar's true form is his eyes, which have red irises and red-pink, scorched skin around them. He is also responsible for the demons featuring heavily in the warrior's tasks in an attempt to impede their progress. He only appears in person in The Last Stand as Guardian of the Portal, where he attempts to stop the remaining warriors from reaching the portal. In Series 9 and 10's Last Stands, he has also shown he has the power of teleportation. Nevar returns in Series 11 with a new staff and mask, having been defeated in the final battle by Raven and his ultimate warriors. He was banished to a desolate realm, but forged symbols of his own to combat Raven's magic and thus banished his nemesis alongside him. From this point on, he attempts to escape from his realm and conquer the lands once more, as Raven II tries to thwart him.
In Raven: The Island, Princess Erina was introduced as a childhood friend of Raven, along with her companion, a blue spirit named Haryad, that kept watch over the warriors safety and progress. Raven appeared in this series only in a guest capacity, mainly in scenes with another new character, the astronomer Cyrus. The spin-off reveals Nevar's backstory, who has ruled the island with his dark magic for four years, making Staffs of Power from the Enchanted Oak to arm his demons, in order to stop the warriors from reaching the fortress. Nevar was once a normal human, no more than an upstart baron with a band of brigands as his followers, and considered no more than an irritation on Alaunus. However, he became twisted and corrupt when he stole the Enchanted Oak and used it to create a Staff of Power for himself; as a result, each time he uses his staff for evil, half of his remaining life-force is taken away, taking its toll on his mind and his body. His iron mask and his cloak hides his scarred, burnt face, marks given to him from a battle with Raven. Until the third series, his mask resembled many small pieces of metal covering his face, before becoming a full metal mask in the fourth series.
In Raven: The Secret Temple, Nevar followed Raven to a mysterious land far to the east after putting a dark spell on Raven's homeland and leaving it in his icy grip. Raven and the warriors traveled to the east to find the magical waters that could break this spell. In this series, a new character Satyarani was introduced, and she acted as a guide to the warriors and as assistance to Raven throughout the course of this quest, in the journey to find The Secret Temple. At the conclusion of this series, Nevar is thought to have been slain, until the last ten seconds of the show, where he is shown to have survived.
In Raven: The Dragon's Eye, Nevar's pursuit continues. He plans to retrieve the mystical Dragon's Eye, which Raven and his warriors attempt to find first. The Eye was said to be a stone of great evil that could grant it's wielder ultimate power, and Raven and the warriors sought to destroy it before it could fall into Nevar's hands. A new character, Ervan was introduced in this series, and he took on the role and persona of Raven's assistant and an occasional guide to the warriors, but his motivations and intentions were frequently in question and he changed sides regularly between Raven and Nevar. It appeared in the conclusion, that he was neither side and was working solely to claim the Eye for himself. Ervan was also exposed as the warrior who had traveled through the Forgotten Kingdom and wrote the journal detailing how to get through the land. Nevar was again thought to have been destroyed, but was shown to once again to have survived following the end credits.
Warriors are given four to seven-letter names composed from letters selected from their real names. Each warrior is given a standard with their lives and rings displayed upon it.
From series 2 to series 10, there are six emblems and colours to represent the warriors: a red outfit containing a sun, a beige outfit containing a cloud, a yellow outfit containing a mountain, a green outfit containing a tree, a blue outfit containing a wave, and a dark grey outfit containing a moon. The emblems were introduced from the second series. The first series featured no emblems, but colours: Mauve, Light Blue, Green, Black, Olive and Light Brown. Series 11 onwards uses four different colours on the group of warriors: blue, yellow, green and red.
The designs of the emblems have varied and changed as the show has progressed, but have remained the same emblems. In the prologue to the seventh series, it was revealed that the symbols were "forged long ago, from gold, cooled in water drawn from the deepest loch" in order to vanquish the darkness that overshadowed the land. On completion of the final symbol, light and sorcery returned to the land before the evil Nevar appeared, who tried to return the land to darkness.
The winners from each series are known as an Ultimate Warrior. Their prize is a warrior's "heart's desire" – in certain cases this proved to be a holiday of some sort – and from the second series, the Ultimate Warrior was also presented with a Staff of Power and the three finalists all won a trophy. From Series 11 onwards, the title was renamed from Ultimate Warrior to True Warrior.
The many challenges the warriors faced have varied over time and some challenges are used only in certain series, whereas some have featured in every series, i.e. Deep Loch, Leap of Faith, Riddle Bridge, and the Way of the Warrior. All the challenges in the quest test a variety of virtues, such as strength, agility, and teamwork, depending on the challenge. Warriors play challenges to win treasure rings, and should they fail the challenge, they will forfeit any rings gained in the challenge, as well as lose one of their lives. There were some exceptions for this rule, for example in Dragon's Roost, Dark Path, Pole Climb, Treetop Treasure, and others, warriors could keep any rings they collected during the challenge. But the overriding rule was that if they lost the challenge, they would definitely lose a life.
Way of the Warrior (Series 1–10)
The Way of the Warrior features in the first ten series and was faced at the end of most days, used to test a warrior to the limits and fell upon the warrior with the fewest lives and rings on their standard at the end of the day, thereby being an elimination challenge. The warrior chosen to complete the challenge must remain on the golden path at all times – should they fall from the path or be struck by any obstacles, they will lose their (often final) life. It consists of many obstacles designed to knock the warrior off the path, and the configuration consisted of swinging dummies, falling rocks being pushed by demons, a swinging gate, a swinging boulder carousel, a narrow beam with sharp objects and spikes falling down. The warriors then released a drawbridge to the next part of the challenge that consisted of a 3 shield section, sometimes with 4 shields, later changed to 3, followed by a spiky swinging barrel with golden ropes to crawl across. The last part of the challenge consisted of swinging blades/axes. From the third series onwards, gnashing jaws were adding to the end of the challenge. The victor would pass through the golden portal and would compete in the next day of the quest. The burden then fell upon the next warrior with the least amount of lives and rings. This process continues until one warrior is eliminated.
When the show's filming location changed to Aviemore in the eighth series, the challenge underwent major transformation. While the format remained essentially the same, it was livened up a bit, consisting of new obstacles such as a falling balance walkway releasing falling rocks, skull shields, and spinning sharp blades.
The challenge did not return in the revived series.
The pass rate for this challenge was not high, and only four warriors in history have ever completed the challenge. They were:
- Ishal (Series 2, Week 3, Day 4 (episode 14)), leaving Dyasa to attempt the challenge.
- Ishal repeated the challenge in week 4 day 3 (episode 18) but failed at the boulder carousel.
- Varna (Series 2, Week 4, Day 5 (episode 20)), leaving Kinia to attempt the challenge.
- Worjo (Series 3, Week 4, Day 5 (episode 20)), leaving Brena to attempt the challenge.
- Kinsa (Series 4, Week 4, Day 2 (episode 17)), leaving Wenra to attempt the challenge.
None of the contestants were able to complete the challenge following Series 4. The closest to do so was Danil in Series 7, who, whilst crossing the final metal jaw just before the portal, grazed his leg against the side, and was eliminated from the quest, falling in third place.
The Last Stand (Series 2–)
Introduced in the second series, this challenge originally consisted of the two warriors in first and second place faced each other to collect and assemble four components of a key from a battlefield and avoid being blasted by Nevar's lightning. Each warrior entered this challenge with however many lives they had on their standard at the end of the day, and being blasted would make them lose a life; they are eliminated if they lose all their lives. The winner is the first to use their constructed key to open the portal and go through to the next stage of the quest. A second round is then played with the loser of the first round racing against the warrior in third place. Only two warriors would pass through the portal to the next stage of the quest. This format of The Last Stand featured in the third series as well.
From the fourth series, the Last Stand was changed into an assault course for the three remaining warriors, their remaining lives and rings determining the relative time they are released from their starting cages. Once released from the starting cages the warriors retrieve a lever, they must then use this lever to knock down the inflatable objects that are in their way, after this the warriors must engage the lever into the slot which will vanquish the first demon that is stood before them. Once vanquishing the first demon the warriors must collect a circular disk, they must scale a wall and crawl under a framework maze before matching the symbols on the podium, this will allow them to pick up a cylinder containing symbols, which they must attach to rope; after climbing up a waterfall and sliding down with the cylinder, it must be placed correctly in the slot to activate the portal to escape. After one warrior has taken out all their demons, Nevar attempts to attack the two remaining warriors; when two warriors have gone through the portal, his next shot causes instant elimination to the remaining warrior. In the final, the first warrior to go through the portal wins and the remaining two are blasted by Nevar.
The challenge has undergone multiple changes and developments. From Series 5–7, warriors had to drag a key across an overhead maze to unlock a cage containing puzzle pieces, which are assembled to vanquish the demon in their path. Much of the rest of the challenge remained the same, except a cylinder of symbols replaced the circular disc.
From series 8–10, with the show's move to being filmed in Aviemore, meant that many of the original features of Castle Toward had gone from the show, and this included the Last Stand which appeared significantly more brighter and colourful than the bleakness of the challenge depicted from prior series. This time the challenge featured two large ramps to carry letters for a word puzzle (in Series 9 and 10, the word puzzle was changed to a shape puzzle forming a bridge that led to a shield). The shield was depicted as protection from Nevar's fire, and only the emblems would destroy the demons in their path. After the ramp part, they faced a framework with ropes attached to form a maze to crawl through, followed by another two emblem shape pieces to collect each. There was then two diamond walls with a hand battering ram to smash through them, with the last two emblem shaped pieces beyond. A different ram hung from chains to burst open a final gate, after which the portal may be accessed. The warriors held the shield up towards Nevar to protect themselves as Nevar fired down at them, as they ran through the portal.
In both series 11 and 12, two versions of the course were built. The first one, that was used during the heats, remains nearly identical to Series 9 – 10's variation with a few noticeable differences. The pieces to build the ramp to the shields are already on the other side of the initial two ramps, the shields serve to only shield the warriors from the Demons instead of Nevar's line of fire (with four symbols instead of six only being present by the second row of Demons), the two diamond walls are replaced by a three spiked gate opened by a Skull tether and a talisman is collected after the final door is burst open in order to drop a boulder that blocks the way to the Portal.
The second version was used as the final challenge during the grand tournament, and is completely different to all the past incarnations. The course is suspended above a large pool of water and the aim of the challenge was completely different. The aim was the warriors had to collect 8 out of 12 of their respective pieces, that are scattered all over the course, and put them into a wheel that would expel Nevar from the arena. The warriors could collect any of the pieces in any order but they can only carry a maximum of two at a time.
Production and awards
The series was first produced by BBC Scotland in 2002. For the first seven series it was shot in the grounds of Castle Toward 8 miles (13 km) south-west of Dunoon, near Toward Point and the village of Toward. The production includes many CGI effects throughout, including the appearance and disappearance of objects and characters (including contestants), rapidly encroaching lava flows, burning targets and fizzing gases, and the zoomorphism of Raven in the title sequence. The show has won two BAFTAs for Best Children's Programme, in 2003 and 2006 for Series 1 and 4.
The first series in 2002 was executive produced by Nigel Pope who devised the format. The producer was Colin Nobbs who stayed on as the Executive Producer for Series 2 and 3. Matthew Napier produced 6 series in total, from Series 2 to 7. Series 8 to 10 were produced by Dougie Napier, who directed the previous two series. Series 11 was produced by Nick Gunaydin upon his interview. The set and games designers are Tom Barker and Liz Barron, who created the look and helped format the show as well as devising most of the challenges. The directors have changed between series:
|1||Bob Harvey, Colin Nobbs|
|2, 5||Bill McLeod|
|3, 4||Paul Hineman|
|6, 7||Dougie Napier|
|8||John Payne (Weeks 1 – 3)|
Dougie Napier (Final Week)
|9, 10||Dougie Napier|
|11, 12||Moe Abutoq|
Series 8, which introduced a number of changes to the programme, was produced under a slightly different production crew, including the director and editors; filming moved to Aviemore being based at Lagganlia Centre for Outdoor Education at Kincraig, rather than the previous location of Castle Toward. Filming for Series 11 returned to Lagganlia Centre and features new composers as part of the production crew.
- "Raven returns – hit children's adventure show swoops in for a new series on CBBC".
- "It's really happening..." Retrieved 22 November 2017.
- "Hit kids' show Raven is returning to the BBC".
- "Why trailblazing Raven star Aisha Toussaint is the real-life heroine young girls need". Glasgow Live. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
- Detailed under "Any other information". "James Mackenzie, actor, Mandy Actors".
- "Raven (2002)". IMDb.
- "Interview with Nick Gunaydin, Series Producer". 27 November 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
- "JODE STEELE AND DAVID WAINWRIGHT". Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2017. Download the PDF to access.