Over here in the UK, we know how to make great writers. We gave the world J.K Rowling with her Harry Potter series and, among many others, we gave the world the author that Rowling is often compared to – Enid Blyton. We are also, apparently, about to give the world Blyton’s work on film, as Working Title has acquired the theatrical rights to The Famous Five. You’re welcome.
With global sales estimated at over 600 million books, Enid Blyton is one of the biggest-selling children’s authors in history. The Famous Five series first appeared in 1942 – with the first book entitled Five On A Treasure Island – and eventually ran to 21 full-length novels. The stories focus on a group of children and the adventures they have during each school holiday, when they return from boarding school. The group – comprising of three siblings, their cousin and her dog – find themselves in all kinds of scrapes and predicaments in the English and Welsh countryside.
A small number of Famous Five stories have found their way onto film, primarily in the 1960s and 1970s – though a German film named Funf Freunde (The Famous Five Friends) was released in 2012 and kickstarted a small franchise. The tales have twice been adapted for television, also – most recently in the 1990s. This new Working Title project, however, will be produced by Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan, who previously shepherded family favourites Nanny McPhee and The Borrowers.
There is no word yet on who will write, direct and star – nor of the setting for the film. Personally, I would like to see a Famous Five movie set in the UK, but as a modern re-telling, rather than a period piece. I would expect to see a cast featuring famous adult faces, and young British talent – provided they haven’t all been whisked off to a galaxy far, far away for Star Wars adventures, that is. Mostly, I would love to see this series of classic English literature seized for the cinematic opportunity that it is. There is a real chance for greatness here – but we will have to watch this space.