The Famous Five, 1996

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Yes, this is certainly among the more recent shows I am ever likely to blog about, but if you like the England depicted by Agatha Christie you will probably like this series. There are actually two British series of the Famous Five, the first was made in the 1970s and was made contemporary. This one was made in the 1990s and set firmly in the fifties. The first series is apparently more popular, or at least easier to come across here. This series has episodes on YouTube, and some episodes have been released on DVD. If you want the whole series you have to buy a Dutch release (called De Vijf - De complete verzameling, although the audio is in English) or there looks to be a Spanish release, but I can't speak for what that's like. 
I have an ambivalent relationship with Blyton myself, because the head mistress of my infants school thought her writing was of poor literary quality and banned her books from the school. The result was of course that reading them was an act of rebellion. One which was rewarded with the rather priggish attitudes of the four and the dog.
I suspect this show was too late for its own good, since the Famous Five were already old fashioned when I was a lady. The attitudes and life style tend to be of the period they were written, although I find this series is more reminiscent of old school stories than I remember the books. 
Where this series succeeds is in the creation of an unreal world. It's sort of the children version of the Avengers world, because I don't think it ever really existed. Was there ever really a time when children were allowed just to go off? I doubt it, even after experiencing my own mothers ridiculous fear that something terrible was about to happen at any moment. As a child I thought the kids in Sesame Street were very sophisticated because they could play in the street - that was out because our street was a short cut between two main roads so lorries would come thundering down it. My mother then made the tactical error of getting me a bike and I was off. Definitely not overnight and while I went a lot of places which would have given her a fit, I didn't have an island or a castle to explore, sadly.
One of the things I notice about this show is that it doesn't put a foot wrong. The pace is just right, the props are perfect, it depicts England as if the 1960s never happened. Apparently if you look closely the continuty tends to fall apart, but it's wonderful escapism.


  1. Many thanks for posting this - I've just rediscovered the 1970s version of the Famous Five because of it, and spent most of the Bank Holiday catching up with episodes in the company of several pots of tea and home-made scones (but not lashings of ginger beer).

    Great fun,


  2. Thanks John! The only pity is that the 1970s show got a cracking theme tune, which will be going round in my head for the rest of the evening!

  3. I know what you mean about the theme tune... it's been stuck in my head for days now!

    1. Just in case anyone isn't affected yet I've embedded a YouTube video of one episode with theme tune above!


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