Famous Five 70s Style: Five Get into Trouble, part 1

Five Get into Trouble is one of my favourite books; the complex plot, the danger, the really really bad crooks – plus all the mystery – makes it one super adventure. So I have to say that the rushed twenty-five minute adaptation of it in the 90s is not my favourite. We lose a lot of the mystery and back story, which is why I may prefer the 70s version where it’s split into two parts.

First of all we are treated to a nice friendly scene where the Five are about to set off and Aunt Fanny is fussing around George to make sure that she hasn’t left anything behind. Uncle Quentin is doing something mysterious to Anne’s bike, something that looks a bit like checking the tire pressure. Well fair enough, it needs to be done, but what’s the point? In the book Uncle Quentin only shows a passing interest in the Five and their trip only because he remembered that he had always had a puncture when he was younger.

So off we set with a lot of fussing from Aunt Fanny, and Timmy on the back of George’s bike on a special saddle. This is a completely new invention in the scheme of things; I wonder if Uncle Quentin thought of it. Anyway, off they go and its not long til we’re treated to that nights camp and the morning after. George is steadfastly still asleep with her head poking out of the tent, Anne is cooking and the boys are swimming in a lake, and complaining that the water is cold.

Enter Richard Kent.

Now I hate his character at the best of time, but Grant Bardsley makes for a very very arrogant, annoying, self entitled git of Richard Kent. Now, that is fair play to Bardsley because there isn’t much scope with a character like Richard Kent, but it makes the arrogance seem really real, and yet by the end of the episode he is beginning to shift and crumble into the scared little boy we know him to be. To begin with however, Bardsley makes Kent try to appear larger than life, inviting himself along with the Five without so much as a please, or my name is.

Bardsley works well to bring the arrogance of Richard Kent to the screen and not to mention there is something about him that you just don’t trust. The way he evades questions about his mother and his aunt is suspicious to say the least and quite frankly I don’t trust the little rascal. Julian gives him more than enough chances, more than I would that’s for sure, especially if this particular person had been the reason my brother had been kidnapped. I suppose we shall what happens to Richard in the next episode, and we shall find out if Bardsley manages to pull it off.

Character Development

Its nice to see Marcus Harris’ Julian interpretation come into its own here. The fact that Trouble is in the second series just demonstrates how much the cast has grown. Harris is beginning to demand a larger role in screen time, and is beginning to have  a mustache. He puts Bardsley’s Kent in place without needing to raise his voice, the presence he is now demanding is quite impressive. You know he’s in charge and this is a Julian who is not to be meddled with. Harris proves this later on in the episode when the Five find their way in Owl’s Dene where Dick is being held prisoner and he starts to talk to George, driving the ghastly Hunchy to get even more angers and threats to beat the children. Harris provides a strong, in control Julian that the rest can get behind and back up. This is completely different to Marco Williamson’s Julian who comes across as more of a caricature and the others undermine and argue with. The difference is phenomenal.

The dynamic between Harris and Gary Russell at this point is much more brotherly and in fact less awkward than the first series where Russell was simply following orders. Like Harris, Russell demands an on screen presence that really brings Dick to life. However this isn’t a Dick like Paul Child’s over compensating characterization, this is a Dick who’s growing up with respect for his brother, and fewer less noticible issues. In fact the boys are more like friends here than brothers, which helps the dynamic. Harris and Russell aren’t relying on each other as much now and are less of a double act but still work in a near perfect balance.  As a side note, can I just say that you can really see the shift in the times between the 70s and 90s adaptations, the change in dynamic between the fives and the focus on the story and characterization. For a sociology graduate, its utterly fascinating.


I quite like this episode, and the attention to detail is outstanding and actually the slow start to establish the story is effective and doesn’t feel drawn out. Its a wonderful adapation of the book and I like it not being rushed, drawing the characters out and showing us how they’ve changed and developed. I hope this follows though into the next episode and it isn’t too rushed with the storyline as they’ve got a lot to happen in that episode. Fingers crossed eh?


Dick (Gary Russell), Timmy (Toddy), George (Michele Gallagher) and Richard Kent (Grant Bardsley) on their bikes in Five Get into Trouble.

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