Top 11 Famous Five moments

I’ve written plenty about the Famous Five, including putting the whole series into order from my most favourite to least favourite. And now I’ve decided to list my ten favourite moments from the series.

Being 21 books long I can’t mention something from every book, some great titles are strong throughout and I can’t pick out a single ‘moment’. Others are also great all the way through but have standout scenes that stick in my mind. Some are funny, some are frightening and others are simply thrilling. Here’s what I chose (and no I couldn’t narrow it down to 10, again!) Can you guess what I have put in first place?


Uncle Quentin can’t get Berta’s name right

Five Have Plenty of Fun

Quentin is often absent-minded and easily confused by anything that isn’t to do with his scientific research. When Berta comes to stay he manages that just fine. But then, due to the threat of kidnap, she changes her name to Leslie and dresses like a boy. This confuses Quentin rather a lot, even though he has been told about it and he continues to call her Berta-er-Leslie. Not long after that Leslie reverts back to being a girl and is then called Jane. Poor Quentin, trying his best, has remembered the name Leslie a bit too late and ends up still getting it wrong.


George and Timmy deal with Junior

Five On Finniston Farm

Junior Henning is a very annoying and rude American boy staying with the Philpots at Finniston Farm. He demands breakfast in bed and doesn’t lift a finger to clear up his own mess. Mrs Philpot is desperate for the money Junior’s father is paying so she can’t upset anyone, so George takes matters into her own hands. She and Timmy take up Junior’s breakfast one morning and lets Timmy drag him out of bed, meaning he comes down to the kitchen for his breakfast after that and saves Mrs Philpot at least one job. It’s always good when someone horrible gets their comeuppance, isn’t it?


Sooty pretends to have bitten Block

Five Go to Smuggler’s Top

Timmy isn’t allowed at Smuggler’s Top as Mr Lenoir hates dogs, but George just couldn’t leave him behind. This leads to him being smuggled around the big house, and when Block interferes, Timmy bites him. In order to continue the charade that there is no dog at Smuggler’s Top Sooty insists that he must have bitten Block, and that he has a rather nasty taste in his mouth. Sooty goes off to brush his teeth, while Block examines his leg and doubts that the marks were made by human teeth.


The Five line up the clues on Gloomy Water

Five on a Hike Together

Having received the mysterious message in the night, the Five of course have to puzzle out the meaning. On a raft, in the middle of Gloomy Water, they must try to align Tall Chimney, Steeple, Tock Hill and Standing Stone. Even with four of them it’s not easy (Timmy, useful as he is, isn’t designed for steering a raft or staring at distant landmarks). Unfortunately for the Five, Dirty Dick and Maggie are on the water too, in a rowing boat, also trying to line up the landmarks. With only two pairs of eyes it’s proving very difficult for them, and there’s a bit of an accidental-on-purpose crash between the two crafts as the Five are exactly where the other two want to be – they just figured out the clues and got there first!


A storm throws up the old wreck

Five on a Treasure Island

Against her better judgement George has taken her cousins to Kirrin Island for the first time, and as she had worried it might, a storm blows up. It is an incredible, fierce summer storm and the waves crashing on the island are enormous. In the midst of it Julian goes outside for a look, and the rest follow when he spots a ship lurching towards the rocks. They are horrified as it crashes onto the jagged rocks with a sound of splintering wood, but then as the storm clears and they can see better there’s something very odd about the ship. It’s George who works it out first, recognising the strange ship for what is is, her very own wreck.


Julian and Dick get stuck in Clopper

Five Go Down to the Sea

Clopper is the name of the pantomime horse that performs in the Barnies’ shows. Normally containing Mr Binks and Sid, the costume is in three parts and the head is guarded jealously on orders of the guv’nor (because it contains smuggled drugs). At the end of the Barnies’ stay at Tremannon Farm the costume is left unguarded and Julian and Dick decide to have a go. Hearing the Guv’nor returning, they realise they are stuck inside the costume and awkwardly stagger off to seek help. Much to everyone’s surprise, a somewhat unsteady Clopper peeps in at the window while everyone else is eating, and although hot and uncomfortable inside, Julian and Dick leg it when they realise everyone has seen them, with Mr Penruthlan in hot pursuit, thinking it’s a farm horse. Running is too difficult for them, however, and the collapse only to be rescued by a guffawing Mr Penruthlan. The farmer even gives them the costume at the end of the book – making a joke about his two friends who can wear the costume but the only thing they can’t do is work the zip.


Julian faces off against the Sticks

Five Run Away Together

In one of his best moments, Julian stands up to the awful Sticks who have invaded Kirrin Cottage. Mrs Stick is the cook (and a good one at that), while her husband is lazing about on leave from his ship. Despite cooking wonderful food, Mrs Stick isn’t feeding the Five well, so Julian goes down to sort it out. He helps himself to all the tastiest morsels from the fridge and flummoxes the tongue-tied Mr Stick with a few deft words. (I have included a few of those words in my post about favourite quotes.)

julian mr stick five run away together


 Julian and Dick ring the lighthouse bell

Five Go to Demon’s Rocks

Near the end of this book the Five plus Tinker and Mischief are trapped inside the lighthouse, and the weather is fairly terrible. They have no phone so in order to seek help Julian and Dick decide to try to get the lighthouse working again. The great lamp is lit and  they lift the heavy bell out onto the balcony -Julian nearly going over the railing in the process – and take turns at striking the bell. The whole village hears it, and are very surprised as it has been over 40 since the lighthouse has been in use, since it was replaced by a bigger, more modern one along the coast.


Morgan calls his dogs

Five Get Into a Fix

Morgan, the son of Mrs Jones at Magga Farm is rather dour and taciturn, and the Five even suspect he might be up to something. However, come the end of the book the Five, plus Aily and Morgan are trapped underground by the real baddies, and only Morgan’s tremendous voice can save them. He shouts on the dogs once, and Llewellyn Thomas mocks him, saying that the dogs couldn’t possibly hear him from so far underground. Morgan shouts again, giving it his all and his voice cracks at the end. Lewellyn Thomas is not smug for long though, as soon they can hear the sound of seven dogs coming to rescue their master.



 Dick gets a secret message in the middle of the night

Five on a Hike Together

Dick is sleeping in an old shed at what he thinks is Blue Pond Farmhouse (spoiler, it isn’t!) when he’s woken by a tapping at the window. A bullet-headed man whispers his name and a baffling message to him – repeating it to make sure he’s got it – and then disappears.

Two Trees. Gloomy Water. Saucy Jane. And Maggie knows too.

He knows it isn’t a dream as a little bit of paper is pushed through a crack in the window, bearing the same message. The fact that the man called Dick’s name makes this all the more puzzling.

dick five on a hike together


The ash tree falls on Kirrin Cottage

Five Go to Smuggler’s Top

This is my all-time favourite. There’s a terrible storm blowing around Kirrin Cottage and Julian hears some terrible creaking in the middle of the night – the enormous ash tree in the garden is about to come down. He then has to wake the household up, and they only just get downstairs in time before there is an almighty crash. The girls room is destroyed and they would most likely have been killed had Julian not acted.


What would your favourites be?

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13 Responses to Top 11 Famous Five moments

  1. chrissie777 says:

    I was guessing # 1, because it’s your avatar.


  2. jillslawit says:

    Some great moments there. Juniors breakfast, the gloomy water clues, the awful Sticks. Having trouble remembering Berta though. Must re-read.


  3. Dale Vincero says:

    I always thought that tree that crashed into Kirrin Cottage, looks ridiculously BIG in the illustration. Would have been more believable if it had been depicted as being a bit smaller. (I’m never satisfied !!)


  4. PieterS70 says:

    No 1 just happened here where I live. A tree has fallen on a house a few days ago during a storm. The house was less damaged than Kirrin cottage, though.


    • fiona says:

      That can only be a good thing! Unfortunately in real life a tree falling on your house is likely to lead to a lot of stress, mess and costs and not a thrilling adventure!


  5. Greg Chadwick says:

    What a great concept- ranking the famous 5. While my favourite book of Enid’s is The Adventurous Four, I absolutely love this series and still read it in my adult years. My list in order of favourites is a little different however. I went for –
    1 Smugglers Top
    2 Go adventuring again
    3 On a treasure island
    4 Have plenty of fun
    5 Run away together
    6 Have a wonderful time
    7 Fall into adventure
    8 Get into a fix
    9 Go off in a caravan
    10 On Kirrin island again
    11 On a hike
    12 Go down to the sea
    13 Get into trouble
    14 On a secret trail
    15 Go to Mystery moor
    16 Billycock Hill
    17 Have a mystery to solve
    18 Go off to camp
    19 Demons Rock
    20 Are together again
    21 Finniston Farm


    • Fiona says:

      It’s always great to see how other people rank the series. There is usually a trend of certain titles being nearer the top or bottom (Together Again is almost always very near the bottom for instance while Treasure Island and Smuggler’s Top are generally very high). I see you’ve got Hike halfway down which is unusual as that is often in people’s top three!


      • Anonymous says:

        I think also what stage in your life you read them can be an influence. I read them out of order as a kid, only buying what the local bookshop had in stock in the 70’s. The local library didn’t ever have a full set. I read Plenty of fun first and Kirrin Island again second. so kidnappers and tunnels and working things out was a bit more real and exciting as a kid. I read Smugglers Top later in life and thought it had everything. I read Five are together again as a kid but it was never a favourite. On a Hike is good particularly the 4 key messages, however a crook leaving a message to a guy called Dick at the exact time Dick was in the barn by himself was a just a bit too coincidental even by Famous Five standards. Still a great book tho. I loved Adventuring again. The tutor and the tunnels and being snowed in and Christmas and George working it all out I thought was great.


  6. Sean J Hagins says:

    #3 Morgan calling the dogs was a good one. I really liked that scene, although I didn’t like Morgan. I mean, he just acted like Julian was a dunce for not believing/listening to him, and Julian too fell for that! There was NO WAY the Five could know he wasn’t a baddie. He was so intimidating and the way he watched them from the window searching for the girl seemed kind of creepy.

    #10 really brought a smile to my face. That kid REALLY needed a spanking for such rude behaviour! And just for the record, not all Americans act like that! And not all act like his dad


  7. Ethel says:

    one of my favorite moments are the times when they tease Dick about he’s “always starving” 🤣


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