Cult TV Essentials

T-Bag

T-Bag is a witch-like character who appears in a television series that ran from 1985 to 1992 (9 seasons/94 episodes plus 4 Christmas Specials). The show was written by Grant Cathro and Lee Pressman, with each season adopting a different title and featuring a single story told over several episodes.

From 1985 to 1989, Tallulah Bag was played by Elizabeth Estensen. In 1990, Estensen left the show and Tallulah Bag was replaced by her sister Tabatha Bag, played by Georgina Hale who played the role until the series ended in 1992.

Now the sisters obtained their magical powers by drinking tea made from the ‘High T-Plant’. They are incapable of brewing it properly, requiring an assistant, T-shirt aka Thomas Shirt (played by John Hasler) to do it for them. In return, T-Bag shares her magical powers with T-shirt. Hassler played T-shirt in every episode, starting as a small child in 1985 and growing until he eclipsed Hale by the series end in 1992. T-shirt is presented as T-Bag’s constant companion, part harassed surrogate son, part household servant.

T-Bag and T-shirt’s magical powers mostly consist of conjuring objects out of thin air when needed, sending objects elsewhere and teleporting across time and space. T-Bag triggers her teleport ability by clicking her fingers, T-shirt finds this difficult so blinks instead. Although T-shirt was T-bag’s assistant, he did not share in her evil ways, and though sometimes he appeared to be faithfully serving T-bag, he was usually assisting the hero of the story secretly.

The seasons and specials were as follows:

  • Wonders in Letterland (1985)
  • T-Bag Strikes Again (1986)
  • T-Bag Bounces Back (1987)
  • Turn on to T-Bag (1988)
  • T-Bag’s Christmas Cracker (1988)
  • T-Bag and the Revenge of the T-Set (1989)
  • T-Bag’s Christmas Carol (1989)
  • T-Bag and the Pearls of Wisdom (1990)
  • T-Bag’s Christmas Ding Dong (1990)
  • T-Bag and the Rings of Olympus (1991)
  • T-Bag’s Christmas Turkey (1991)
  • T-Bag and the Sunstones of Montezuma (1992)
  • Take Off with T-Bag (1992)

Each season (apart from 1992’s Take Off with T-Bag) followed the same format: T-Bag (after reuniting with T-shirt somehow) would attempt to increase her power and there would only be one thing that could stop her that was made up of a number of pieces. These pieces  would be scattered across time and space, and the girl of the series was required to travel and collect them all before T-Bag could get her hands on any of them.

In 1985’s Wonders in Letterland, Debbie Carter (played by Jennie Stallwood) was introduced. Debbie would battle T-Bag for the first three seasons. T-Bag would then battle child television presenter Holly Anna Jones (played by Diana Barrand) in 1988’s Turn on to T-Bag. 

Sally Simpkins (Kellie Bright) stepped up to battle T-Bag for two seasons and a Christmas special. In 1989, SImpkins helped finally destroy Tallulah Bag (Estensen) in the last episode of T-Bag and the Revenge of the T-Set . Her her sister Tabatha Bag then turned up for revenge. Although the role of the villain remained the same, with T-shirt still by her side, the two sisters were quite different. Whereas Tallulah would attempt to keep calm and composed often in attempts to impress people, Tabatha was prone being over-dramatic and lost her temper.

Simpkins passed the baton in 1991 to  Goddess Athena’s handmaiden, Polyzena aka Polly (played by Natalie Wood) in T-Bag and the Rings of Olympus. In 1992’s T-Bag and the Sunstones of Montezuma, archaeologist’s daughter Penny Hunt (Evelyn Sweeney) became T-bag’s last adversary.

The final series, Take Off With T-Bag, totally changed the format and premise of the show. To some it jumped the shark, to others it provided a conclusion as this time T-Bag was the protagonist and traveled the galaxy in her spaceship with both T-shirt (who was willingly working for her now) and a new character named Tow Ling Shirt (played by Bea Julakasiun) who was T-shirt’s Chinese cousin (This was OK on UK kids TV in 1992!). She spent the series collecting golden envelopes which were leading to her birthday surprise. In the final episode of the series, she found that she had been on a wild goose chase while Granny Bag set up a surprise party for her during the distraction. T-Bag, in a rare show of heart, declared that the greatest gift of all was friendship just before she had her birthday cake splattered all over her.

 

 

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