The story begins in 1986 when Matthews met film producer Gerry Anderson (Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, etc.) to discuss the possibility of working
together on a children's series. Matthews retired to his studio, later to emerge with a portfolio of images and a synopsis for a comedy space
adventure. Anderson liked the idea and images but was at a loss to see how such a detailed and extravagant proposal could be realized given the
existing technology and limited budget. However, as the years rolled by, great advances were made with computer-generated imagery that made the
series viable, and in 1996 Matthews commenced pre-production drawings. After several false starts, the show was eventually financed by Carrington
Productions International, who purchased the copyright. The series combines stop-motion models (made by Mackinnon & Saunders, Manchester) with
computer-generated space machines, characters, and backgrounds all based on Matthews designs. The stop-motion animation characters, of which there
are fourteen, are on average 17-25cm (7-10in) high and even have professionally made glass eyes. Twenty-six episodes were filmed using direct to
hard disk video cameras. This technique made it easy for the animators to see immediate play back of their work. The CG models include The Paradox
(a flying thatched cottage), The Cutting Snark (Short Fred Ledd's space galleon), Dr. Agon's Mammoth Machine, and his Dark Station; a highly
destructive space battleship.
The seed of this whole endeavour was an old song that popped into Matthews' mind when he sat down at his drawing board to contemplate the idea of a
children's adventure series. It was a song called 'Lavender Castle' dating from 1973, a time known for 'cosmic' or eccentric lyrics. And the lyrics
for this particular song happened to be ones that he had written himself when playing in a progressive rock band, for which he was the drummer. The
song spoke of a lavender castle and a collection of idiosyncratic adventurers, including John Dory and Lady Forgetmenot, and their quest to find
this haven of peace and benevolent power. John Dory eventually missed the boat altogether, while Lady Forgetmenot became known as Lyca on the
grounds that this was less of a mouthful. Personally, Matthews still prefers the original name.
The animated series of Lavender Castle also tells the story of a daring band of misfits. Travelling in their homely yet high-tech space ship, the
Paradox, their quest is to find the elusive Lavender Castle: a city floating in space, a place of harmony and peace, of purity and power. It is
understandable then that the arch villain and megalomaniac Dr. Agon wants to get there first and destroy it - although he has a surprise or two
Of the initial 26 stories, two were written by Matthews, with Pauline Fisk and Chris Trengove contributing stories and scripts; while Gerry
Anderson, in addition to producing, wrote the majority of other stories and scripts.
Lavender Castle fulfills a lifelong dream for Matthews of seeing his images move and come to life. He hopes that this series will convey to its
young viewers an appreciation of the natural treasures of this world and perhaps others, thus paying back at least some of the pleasure the early
Disney films gave to him.
Lavender Castle was shot at Cosgrove Hall Films in Manchester, England.