The news that the Faraway Tree Series adaptation for the big screen has made some progress got me thinking. Blyton wrote so much, so what else could be adapted?
WHAT HAS ALREADY COME TO PASS
Obviously there are a fair few things out there already (for a full and detailed list see my guide);
The Famous Five
- 70s TV series
- 90s TV series
- Two Danish feature-length films (Five Go Adventuring Again and Five Get into Trouble)
- Two serialised adventures in the 1950s/60s (Five on a Treasure Island and Five Have a Mystery to Solve)
- Four (so far!) German films
- There are at least eight different Noddy TV shows so far
The Adventure Series
- 90s TV series
- Island of Adventure movie in the 80s
- an 8-part Castle of Adventure series in the 90s
The Secret Series
- 90s TV series
- Four German movies under the name of Hanni und Nanni
The Five Find-Outers
- Japanese TV series (running to hundreds of episodes) in the 60s
- The Enid Blyton Book of Brownies in Germany
- The Magic Of The Faraway Tree
- Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Lands – More Adventures at the Faraway Tree
- The Adventures Of The Wishing Chair
(The last three being cheapish looking cartoons).
TO REPEAT OR NOT TO REPEAT?
With the above in mind, it would seem quite sensible to say ‘enough of those’ and suggest some of Blyton’s currently over-looked books for a change. But I’m not the sensible type! (As you may have noticed).
First up, you can never have enough of the Famous Five! While the 70s and 90s series both did some pretty good work, I’d love to see even more. In particular my favourite book – Five Go to Smuggler’s Top – would make a great movie! It would have to be set in the 1940s of course, with smashing pull-overs, galoshes and plenty of jolly language.
I didn’t think an awful lot of the 90s adaptations of the Adventure Series or the Secret Series, though the Castle of Adventure mini series wasn’t all bad. I’d love to see either of these done as a new series – but more faithfully and, again, set in the 40s, not the present day. In particular I think that The Secret Island would make a great movie – as long as it wasn’t bulked up with lots of extra adventure. It’s a fabulous book with a few key dramas and doesn’t need any more. Oh and my favourite Adventure book – The Circus of Adventure – would also make for a good movie. Philip rescuing the circus camp for the bears would be thrilling on screen.
I’ve never seen the Five Find-Outers’ TV series, and I doubt many British people will have. I think that with fifteen books there would be a lot of scope for a TV series. Fatty cycling about as red-headed boys and dressing up as old women would add plenty of humour, and Mr Goon would be an easy ‘baddie’ for kids to dislike. Two series of 7 or 8 hour-long episodes, perhaps? Or each book broken into a few episodes might work – I don’t really know how long each one would take acted out.
THE NEVER SEEN BEFORE
I think one big omission from the Blyton catalogue are the school stories. There has been nothing apart from the German forays into St Clare’s. Perhaps the film and TV people thought they wouldn’t appeal to both genders?
I think that the six Malory Towers books would make an excellent TV series. Each book is made up of a series of incidents, spread over the course of a school year. A single book could then be broken down into perhaps 8 or 12 episodes. For example, the first book could have an episode around Darrell getting ready for and arriving at school, introducing us to the main cast. An episode could be dedicated to the fight in the pool between Gwen and Darrell, and another to the incident where Darrell pushes Sally and Sally ends up getting operated on with appendicitis.
The three Whyteleaf books would also make for good TV, or perhaps three films. The bold, bad girl Elizabeth Allen would make a striking main character and I think kids would really like her because she is brave and kind but also impetuous and prone to losing her temper.
The Secret Seven
It’s actually quite surprising that the Secret Seven has never been adapted. There are fifteen books – enough for two series easily. None of them require expensive locations (a few steam trains though!) and would surely appeal to younger children?
The Barney Mysteries
Being only six books these might be more awkward to adapt but they are cracking mysteries for the most part and I would happily sit and watch them!
The Farm Books
I can see these being made into a load of short 5-10 minute episodes aimed at young children to teach them about caring for animals. A few minutes of the children encountering something new on the farm, and then a trip to Tammylan to meet a wild creature or hear an animal tale. What’s not to love?
There are so many good ones to choose from! I would love to see Hollow Tree House or Those Dreadful Children as films for a start.
MORE LIKELY, THOUGH…
Is that we will get two more Faraway Tree films (should the first one be a success). I can also see Noddy appearing yet again – Dreamworks now own the rights and could make his first movie.