Charmed interview
sidebar Constance Burge: The Charmed One A bunch of charmers: Alyssa Milano, Shannen Doherty and Holly-Marie Combs as the Halliwell sisters

We talk to the creator of Charmed, and are told how the three Halliwell sisters get their powers…

selected from TV Zone #126

In America, the WB has had great success unleashing a variety of vampires and slayers on an unsuspecting world. Unwilling to leave well enough alone, it’s turned their attention to a trio of witches in the series Charmed (now showing on Channel 5 in the UK).

Unfolding through the eyes of the Halliwell sisters, Prue (Shannen Doherty), Piper (Holly Marie Combs) and Phoebe (Alyssa Milano), Charmed is about modern-day descendants of witches who discover what they actually are. They recognize that they have to use their powers to help the innocent and vanquish warlocks intent on robbing them of their abilities and unleashing evil on the world.

Guiding the Halliwells through their Wicca ways is executive producer Constance M Burge, who was as surprised as anyone to be involved with the show. “I had come in to pitch on an entirely different project,” says Burge, who had also served as the executive producer of the short-lived primetime soap opera, Savannah. “At the time, Buffy had been a huge success and the WB was looking for a companion piece that would go on after Buffy. They thought the area of witches might be something fun and interesting to explore.

"To be honest, though, I didn’t know anything about witches, although I had a lot of pre-conceived ideas and notions. So after the meeting I did some fairly significant research before I went back to the network. Then I pitched the idea of three sisters. At the time, they were living in Boston, but it was ultimately moved to San Francisco, and they had come from a long line of Wiccan women. I actually have two older sisters, so it was very easy for me to create the characters because they were in my life.”

Close to the Truth

Is she suggesting that somehow the series is autobiographical? Burge lets out a laugh before responding. “Their characteristics are definitely created from my own life,” she admits, “although we’re not witches. My sisters are actually very corporate. But definitely the idea that the oldest sibling is always very focused and driven and successful. The middle sibling tends to be the negotiator and the middle-man, and, because they’re always in the middle, tends to be the humorous one. Then the youngest is always in trouble or getting in trouble or doing something that is in absolute conflict with the older siblings. That was me.”

Once she settled on those particular characteristics, each sister’s powers came naturally. “With Prue,” Burge says, “it was very in her mind. It felt like she would have the power that would be mind-related, hence the power of telekinesis. The middle sister is always having trouble with Time, because she’s so busy people-pleasing, as is her nature. It felt like that would be a good power for her: the ability to freeze time. And because the younger sibling was viewed as having no vision of the future, because they were always in the moment, I thought it would be nice to give the power of premonition. I just thought there was something so ironic in the ability to see everyone else’s future but their own...

Edward Gross

Get TV Zone #126 for the full interview, and our series overview

Charmed image ©Spelling Televison / the WB
Feature © Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction
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