Not ones for staying out of trouble, the Famous Five are made up of siblings Julian, Dick and Anne, their tomboy cousin George and her dog Timmy. The quintet are reunited every holiday, when the siblings visit their aunt Fanny and Uncle Quentin in the seaside village of Kirrin.
Popular children’s author Enid Blyton published her first novel about this inquisitive gang in 1942 and the British writer went on to create a total of 21 adventures. Packed with ginger beer, secret passageways, dodgy characters and intriguing mysteries, the novels were very popular among children and a series about the adventurous group was broadcast on ITV in 1978. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the novels, the series is being released on DVD for the first time today, 21st May.
The Famous Five television series has a wholesome feel that is lacking in much of today’s children’s entertainment. The episodes are a refreshing reminder of Blyton’s talent, especially for those who read her novels as a child, and vividly bring to the screen her characteristically comforting universe. The series stars Marcus Harris, Gary Russell, Jennifer Thanisch, Michelle Gallagher and the wonderful dog Timmy who accompanies them on their adventures. Timmy is just as much a part of the group as any of the others, and often plays an important role in solving mysteries.
The children are naturally inquisitive, always exploring hidden places and looking for adventures. The great thing about these stories is that they are not about simple outings like walks or picnics. Instead, the Famous Five seem to have a particular knack for finding exciting adventures, that are often more serious than they first think. There is often real intrigue and danger involved, situations that will have you unexpectedly sliding to the edge of your seat.
George’s father is always working on something top secret, whether it is converting energy, or conducting experiments with a plentiful supply of test-tubes and formulae. In the first couple of episodes of the series, it is this top secret work that invites greedy men to snoop around, hoping to get a slice of his impending success. However thankfully for this eccentric inventor, when you tell the Famous Five that somewhere is out of bounds, chances are they are going to explore it and stumble upon those who are up to no good.
The background music in this series is very simple, yet effectively sets the scene and builds tension. The stories move fast enough to keep you entertained, yet they still retain their wholesome feel. It is their childhood innocence and relentless inquisitiveness that really makes the Famous Five stories appealing, as easy-to-watch, 25 minute-long slices of entertainment.
The only thing that can get slightly annoying is the theme tune, which plays at the start and end of each episode, as well as when you first put the DVD in and head to the home page. However, if you move fast enough, you can skip past this and get right to the innocently wonderful action. As well as the five main roles, the series also features the talents of classic British actors including Patrick Troughton, Ronald Fraser, Brian Glover (of Kes fame), David Rappaport and an early appearance from the young Rupert Graves.
The whole production, from script writer Gail Renard, has a very fresh feel, despite being made over 30-years-ago. If you are looking for something to entertain your children with, or simply to see some feel-good entertainment, then the Famous Five series is one to watch.
To coincide with the 70th anniversary of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, all 13 episodes of the first series of the classic 1970s adaptation of the Famous Five is coming to DVD for the first time. Season One is out on May 21st, Season 2 and the Complete Collectors Edition is out on June 25th, 2012.