Famous Five get together again

TIPPLING ginger beer, trips to Kirrin Island and combating smuggling rings were all in a summer’s work for the Famous Five and they’re set for a return to our TV screens.

Most Irish people who grew up in the late 1970s and early 1980s have Julian, Dick, Ann, George and Timmy the dog as an enduring memory of their childhood but the gang are set for a return as adults themselves in a new series.

The adaptation of Enid Blyton’s series of books, written between 1942 and 1963, brought the idea of adventure to life for a generation of youngsters who are now parents themselves.

But the ideals of the young teens are likely to have changed when a new cast — including a descendant of Toddy Woodgate who played Timmy, the canine member of the gang — take to TV screens 30 years on.

The cast has yet to be filled but fans of the original show are unlikely to meet the young actors who played the original roles, filmed in England in 1978 and 1979.

An animated series of the Famous Five is already in production and should hit the small screen next year, but fans of the original books and the TV series will be awaiting the full production.

The series will feature the Kirrin cousins as a group of fortysomethings, meddling in mysteries as adults rather than the giggling children who helped foil international crime almost three decades ago .

The work has been sanctioned by Chorion, the company which owns and manages the copyright for author Enid Blyton’s original works. They have teamed up with production company TwoFour to develop the series, being aimed at people who grew up reading the Famous Five adventures from the 1940s onwards, as well as fans of the original TV programme.

The 21 books have gone through numerous print editions since the first volume appeared in 1942.

Where are they now?

* The original cast of child actors never really made it big in the world of entertainment, despite their hero status among youngsters of the last generation of children.

* Marcus Harris, who played Julian, became deputy mayor of Wallingford in Oxfordshire last summer and runs his own consultancy in Reading.

* Gary Russell, who played Dick, edited a Doctor Who magazine in the early 1990s.

* Jennifer Thanisch, who played Anne Kirrin, is also known for having played investigator Jack Regan’s daughter Susan in the detective series The Sweeney. She has made few acting appearances after the 1970s, but was spotted in a small part in an episode of One Foot in the Grave.

* It is unclear what became of Michele/Michelle Gallagher, who played George/Georgina in the series.

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