As the festive season approaches, BBC One and iPlayer are set to captivate audiences with a Christmas gift that merges nostalgia with contemporary flair: the premiere of The Famous Five.
This modern reimagining of Enid Blyton’s cherished series is a testament to the enduring appeal of classic children’s literature in today’s digital age, and aims to bring the series to “a progressive new audience”.
Helmed by Nicolas Winding Refn, known for his work on the action film Drive, and producer Matthew Read of Peaky Blinders fame, the series promises a fresh take on the beloved adventures.
Featuring a young cast in the title roles, and supported by Jack Gleeson of Game of Thrones fame, this adaptation is poised to bring a new dimension to Blyton’s iconic characters.
The first episode, The Curse of Kirrin Island, not only promises to be a thrilling adventure but also a nostalgic journey, rekindling the timeless charm of The Famous Five for a new generation.
Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming new series, which is set to debut on BBC One and iPlayer as part of the BBC’s Christmas schedule.
A Legacy Reimagined
Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five series, a cornerstone of British children’s literature, has captivated young readers since its inception in 1942.
The series, encompassing 21 books, follows the adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne, George (Georgina), and Timmy the dog, as they unravel mysteries and embark on thrilling escapades.
Before the BBC’s latest reimagining, The Famous Five had been brought to life on television several times.
The first adaptation aired in 1978 on ITV, produced by Southern Television. This series ran for two seasons, totalling 26 episodes, and closely followed Blyton’s original narratives.
Later, in 1995, a co-production between a number of companies, including Tyne Tees Television and the German broadcaster ZDF, resulted in a new series.
That iteration, which also stayed true to the spirit of the books, consisted of three seasons and 26 episodes.
In 2008, an animated series titled Famous 5: On the Case began airing.
This series was set in modern times and featured the children of the original Famous Five characters.
The New Famous Five
The BBC’s reimagined The Famous Five series aims to preserve the enchanting allure of Blyton’s stories while making them resonate with a contemporary audience.
Nicolas Winding Refn, the creator and executive producer, passionately stated: “All my life I’ve fought vigorously to remain a child with a lust for adventure.
“By reimagining The Famous Five, I am preserving that notion by bringing these iconic stories to life for a progressive new audience, instilling the undefinable allure and enchantment of childhood for current and future generations to come.”
Executive producer Will Gould added: “In the hands of Nicolas and Matthew, this Famous Five will be a modern, timely, and irreverent action series with adventure at its heart.”
A Star-Studded Cast and Crew
The BBC’s contemporary adaptation of The Famous Five features a dynamic and talented cast, ensuring a fresh and engaging experience for audiences.
The new series boasts an impressive cast, with Diaana Babnicova, Elliott Rose, Kit Rakusen, Flora Jacoby Richardson, and Kip, the Bearded Collie Cross, portraying the iconic characters.
The supporting cast includes a few recognisable names – Jack Gleeson, renowned for his role as King Joffrey in Game of Thrones, returns to TV in the role of Wentworth in the series.
James Lance, familiar to audiences from Ted Lasso, portrays Quentin, George’s father. Ann Akinjirin, who has appeared in Moon Knight and I May Destroy You, takes on the role of Fanny, George’s mother.
Completing this lineup is Diana Quick, known for her work in shows like Father Brown, who plays Mrs Wentworth.
First Episode Coming This Christmas: ‘The Curse of Kirrin Island’
In the show’s gripping inaugural episode, which will air on BBC iPlayer and BBC One this Christmas, viewers are introduced to George, Julian, Dick, Anne, and their dog Timmy.
The plot thickens with the discovery of a body on the beach, seemingly linked to a local curse.
The cousins embark on a daring quest to uncover the truth behind Kirrin Island, an uninhabited family possession, setting the tone for a series filled with action, mystery, and adventure.
With two more episodes slated for 2024 (for a total of three 90-minute episodes), The Famous Five is poised to become a staple of family entertainment, offering a blend of nostalgia and novelty.