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The Famous Five's new makeover
December 5, 2006 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Five go adventuring in Disneyland. Enid Blyton, beloved British children's author, created tales of child detectives Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog in the 1940s. Deemed outdated, or at times downright offensive(.pdf), stories abound that the author's work has been banned from libraries or school reading lists in the past for being sexist and/or racist. Debate sprang up earlier this year over the publisher's attempts to update the books for a modern audience (read: American), which some interpreted as a politically correct attempt at sanitisation. The Famous Five was nevertheless voted by adults as their favourite series for children in 2005.
Now owned by brand business Chorion, the historic characters are being reimagined as Cole, Dylan, Jo and Allie in a 26-episode animated series from Disney. Some are delighted, others are not amused. Pour yourself some lashings of ginger beer, and remember Kirrin Island fondly. It may be the end of an era.
posted by szechuan (19 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
But why do they even have to "reimagine the historic characters"? Why can't they just create a a whole new idea, new characters, and just rip off the storyline and deny it, Lion King style. Sure to piss less people off, and lose some baggage at the same time.
posted by Jimbob at 2:25 PM on December 5, 2006


*swoons with remembered lurve and nostalgia for the Adventure books*

Yeah, I'm sure they don't bear reading again from my current perspective, but I loved them so way back when.

Thanks for the post.
posted by jokeefe at 2:25 PM on December 5, 2006


Ah, Chorion. They're the ones who've been goosing up Agatha Christie novels for a modern audience rather than letting them go into the dustbin of outdated writing where they belong.
posted by raygirvan at 3:13 PM on December 5, 2006


``But why do they even have to "reimagine the historic characters"? Why can't they just create a a whole new idea, new characters, and just rip off the storyline and deny it, Lion King style. Sure to piss less people off, and lose some baggage at the same time.'

In a perfect world, maybe. But I guess that would invalidate the entire reason Chorion exists. In some grim future they'll probably have the rights to edit my childhood memories as well.
posted by Auz at 3:14 PM on December 5, 2006


The Daily Telegraph had an offer this past summer where you could get Famous Five audio books for free with a coupon -- I was an avid FF reader as a child, and braved the embarrassment of going into W.H. Smith to pick them up so that I could re-live the joy.

Sadly, as szechuan suggests, when I eventually listened to them I discovered that they were unbearable for reasons sexist/racist/classist/pick-your-British-style-offensiveness. I gamely listened to the first two, but just couldn't keep going.
posted by obliquicity at 3:20 PM on December 5, 2006


I was always more of an Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators kid, but I discover can still remember the appalling theme song from the 70s TV show. So thanks heaps for that, you evil, evil person.
posted by Sparx at 3:41 PM on December 5, 2006


Cf. Five Go Mad in Dorset, Five Go Mad on Mescaline.
posted by anticlock at 3:53 PM on December 5, 2006


I wonder what Enid Blyton would have made of David Rudd's deconstruction of the power structure of the Famous Five (in the "offensive" link)? I hope she'd think it perfectly stupid (as I do).
posted by QuietDesperation at 4:08 PM on December 5, 2006


Uncle Quentin and the Skylon anyone?
posted by A189Nut at 5:00 PM on December 5, 2006


Yea, they can be pretty offensive by today's standards, I guess. I still think of them fondly, they were the perfect "it's raining out, crawl up with book in the attic" type diversions.

Cole, Dylan, Jo and Allie? Ugh.
posted by gemmy at 5:17 PM on December 5, 2006


Cf. Five Go Mad in Dorset, Five Go Mad on Mescaline.

"Well at least the Nazis cared about racial purity!"
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:24 PM on December 5, 2006


The British Hardy Boys, only better. You know J. K. Rowling was raised on these.
posted by caddis at 5:46 PM on December 5, 2006


I remember my mum and I taking the bus into Preston, heading to the city library to borrow Noddy books. I can't remember the racial angles, but then I was only four.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:08 PM on December 5, 2006


I always preferred the Secret Seven myself.

At home my mother has stacks of these. I'll dig them out this Christmas and see if they're really sexist and racist. If they are, I'll give them to freepers.
posted by DragonBoy at 7:33 PM on December 5, 2006


Disney ruined Winnie the Pooh, and they'll ruin this also. Julian transmogrified into Cole... oh. my. god.
posted by stonesy at 8:03 PM on December 5, 2006


Five Get Over Excited
posted by kirkaracha at 10:29 PM on December 5, 2006


Cole, Dylan, Jo and Allie? M'enfin?

'I don't have to apologise because I'm so bloody rich.'
posted by Mocata at 2:53 AM on December 6, 2006


happy day, Enid Blyton (ginger beer? smashing!) and the housemartins in one post =p

if I ever see a puffin, I'll be thinking of the five.
posted by nomisxid at 1:27 PM on December 6, 2006


I spent much of my childhood reading Famous Five and Secret Seven books, as well as those of that other quintessentially English (and most un-PC) children's series, Richmal Crompton's "Just William". For some curious reason, they were quite big in Spain between the '50s and the '80s, but I nevertheless spent years wondering what the heck "jengibre" was (ginger, as it's known in English, is not a very common ingredient in Spanish kitchens), and how could it be that those weird English allowed their children to drink beer all the time.

I guess that the main problem some lefties have with the Famous Five is not one of sexism (George having probably inspired more than one future feminist) never mind racism. It's just that they are so irritatingly upper-class. One gets the feeling that Julian would have grown into someone like this man and George would be hunting foxes with this woman.
posted by Skeptic at 3:41 PM on December 6, 2006


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