1 9 7 8 – 1 9 7 9 (UK)
26 x 25 minute episodes
Based on the famous (excuse the pun) books by Enid Blyton, this series from Southern Television followed the adventures of four children – Julian, Dick, Anne and George (short for Georgina) – and George’s dog, Timmy.
Blyton’s most famous creation was brought bang up to date (the 70s) with the Five no longer in shorts and scratchy woollens, but sporting anoraks, mop haircuts and flared jeans.
The serial was a huge hit with British kids – another generation was ready to suspend disbelief as four young kids and a dog took on the criminal fraternity while on their school holidays.
Week after week, the Five stumbled across smugglers, secret passages, treasure maps and a plan to steal Uncle Quentin’s top-secret research papers as if it was the first time they had encountered such things.
This was a well-made series, filmed around the New Forest, with Exbury House, (the famous mansion amidst the de Rothschild gardens) being used for all interior shots, and as production headquarters.
German finance was involved, leading to the casting of German actor Michael Hinz as Uncle Quentin – whose strange accent was no doubt a mystery to many of the children watching.
Two of the 21 Enid Blyton stories were not filmed: Five Have Plenty of Fun and Five on Treasure Island.
A possible third series was shelved when the Enid Blyton Foundation (who kept tight control over proceedings) forbade the production team to write their one new adventures.
A 1995 TV revival reset the adventures back to the 1940s and was not successful (it took ITV almost four years to show all 26 episodes!)
TRIVIA NOTE: The playful black and white border collie playing Timmy, was actually called ‘Toddy’ and lived with his master, Ben Woodgate, in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire. Toddy also co-starred in The Railway Children (1970) and the Poldark TV series (1975 – 1977).
Georgina ‘George’ Kirrin