Psammead the Sand Fairy - An ancient wish-granting
sand fairy discovered by a group of children on the British fantasy serial FIVE
CHILDREN AND IT/BBC/1991.
Based on the 1902 children's novel of the same name by Edith Nesbit, the series
followed the adventures of five children who move to the countryside for a
summer vacation and dig up a slumbering Sand Fairy beneath the rubble of a
Calling himself a Psammead (pronounced Sammyadd), the scruffy,
ill-tempered Sand Fairy grants the children one wish a day, but things never
turn out as excepted. (Each wish wears off at sundown). To activate a wish, the
Sand Fairy takes a long, deep breath and then exhales.
The five children
included Simon Godwin as Cyril; Nicole Mowat as Anthea; Charles Richards as
Robert; Tamzen Audas as Jane and Alexander/Lewis Wilson as Lamb, their baby
brother. Francis Wright played the role of the Psammead the Sand Fairy. The
six-episode series was also known as "The Sand Fairy."
TRIVIA NOTE: To read the text of the actual book
that inspired the series, visit the International Children's Digital Library. E.
Nesbit, also the wrote childrens' classics "The Phoenix and the Carpet" and "The
Railway Children" which were second and third books in the Five Children trilogy.
In 1993, Helen Cresswell wrote the sequel, "Return of the Psammead."
The following text from the
novel describes the appearance of the Psammead:
"The children stood round the hole in a ring, looking at the creature they had
found. It was worth looking at. Its eyes were on long horns like a snail's eyes,
and it could move them in and out like telescopes; it had ears like a bat's
ears, and its tubby body was shaped like a spider's and covered with thick soft
fur; its legs and arms were furry too, and it had hands and feet like a
In the fall of 2004, a film adaptation of Edith Nesbit's story screened in
theatres worldwide. This adaptation followed a group of British children
evacuated from London to the countryside during World War One who discover a
mysterious, ancient sand fairy on a secret beach (clothed in a giant clam
The sand fairy promises to grant the children one wish per day. However, he
mischievously ensures that the wishes (involving wings, dinosaurs, clones and
cars) all backfire in unexpected ways.
The 8000 year-old Psammead was voiced by
Eddie Izzard and animated by Jim Henson's Creature Shop.
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