I have decided to do Five Have a Wonderful Time in two parts, because it is a two-part episode and because I think that this adaptation needs to be looked at in two different chunks. A lot of character development and shifting of control in the Five happens in these two episodes all for one actor’s little mistake.
The actor in question is Marco Williamson, who managed to break his leg at some point between filming episodes for the second season. This disrupts the smooth running of the story lines, particularly in this episode and Five go off in a Caravan. This episode starts out fineish, with the Five sitting on some old steps in a church yard and moaning about the fact that there is nothing to do on this holiday while they are staying at the rectory. I assume by this point in filming that the lack of motion from the Five and the fact that you never actually see them moving around that Williamson had already broken his leg and they were doing their best to hide it.
Anyway this is the first major change in this episode because George isn’t the one who’s ill and joins the others later on. They all start off on holiday together. Uncle Quentin isn’t supposed to be working of course, which is the whole point of this holiday, but he has invited colleagues to the house which annoys Aunt Fanny (she gets into a rare mood with him- frustrated at his lack of holiday mood I suppose) and then invited the scientists, Derrk Terry-Kane and Jeffery Pottersham to dinner.
The Five are bored stiff at the conversation betwen Pottersham and Uncle Q, but Terry-Kane tries to talk to George about Timmy before he’s rudely interrupted by Pottersham saying that he thought they were discussing science.
We switch scenes to the Five being in bed and the assumption that its late at night or possibly early in the morning as it seems quite light outside. Julian wakes from his sleep when he hears people leaving the house, climbing out onto a tree outside his window he observes that the scientists are being kidnapped and in trying to get a better look at a clue “falls” out of the tree. In all honesty I am assuming this was a stunt double because I do genuinely think that Williamson had broken his leg before filming.
This however, is the way in the story that Julian breaks his leg. He makes up the story with Dick’s help that he was climbing the tree (in the middle of the night), fell out and broke his leg while watching the scientists being led away. Uncle Quentin doesn’t believe him however and raves about how rude it was of them.
With one thing and another the other four, Dick, George and Anne with Timmy get to go off camping with Julian being left behind. They take tents, another deviation from the book where they camp in caravans, but still have the problems with the fair folk in the same field. The reason they decided to go and camp where they did, at the bottom of a ruined castle, is because Julian’s clue that he discovered on his fall from the tree, is where the scientists are being kept there as prisoners.
The adventure seems to be over before it begins however because the fair folk seem determined to rid themselves of the Five from their field. The day is saved however when Sniffer turns up and tells the fair folk that Dick, George and Anne are his friends.
A big change from the book as I’m sure you know. Chronologically we’ve not met Sniffer properly yet (played by Lee Turnbull) because his only proper adventure with the Five is in Five Go to Mystery Moor. For some reason the producers decided not to use Vanessa Cavanagh as Jo and replaced her with Sniffer. This is one of those non-nonsensical changes that probably made sense at the time of filming but without any notes or information to hand, seems baffling to a fan. Anyway, here is Sniffer, who saves the day with the fair folk and gives the remainder of the Five chance to investigate.
A new dynamic comes out in this episode, and in fact starts to appear as a reoccurring theme throughout the second series, with Dick having to be in charge, because he’s the boy. Paul Child gives a good go of a young boy muddling through without his elder brother, having waited for this moment all his life to be in charge, but then not really delivering the result his sister and cousin are used to. George and Anne tease him something rotten about how Julian would have figured this all out quicker, and dismiss his theories about the missing scientists.
From this however, comes a changed Dick where he begins to override Julian, take charge more and challenge his brother. For Julian this is all a bit sudden, new and strange, and you can certainly see that in the later episodes. Five on a Hike Together is a good example on how Julian reacts to the challenge in authority.
From the point of the fair folk and exploring the castle, the story seems to be mostly faithful to the book, but there are a few fair niggly bits for a fan like me. Why Sniffer for example?
Anyway. That’s all for now, and I shall review part two of Five Have a Wonderful Time, very soon! What do you think of part one though? Can you see why Sniffer was chosen over Jo? If you can, please let me know what you think in the comments.