Reviewing for the i newspaper: The Famous Five on TV

The  Famous Five: Curse of Kirrin Island

TV film, 2023

based on Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

published 1942

Just. Look. At. Them. How can you resist?

I normally write about books for the i newspaper, but when they asked me if I would like to preview this new film and write about it, I signed up instantly. (And I also reread the book it was based on).

It's a Christmas treat for the whole family, a really enchanting family film, with very high production values, and topclass writing and direction. Blyton and her books are the subject of endless controversy, but this film transcends it all. It's available online now, and will be shown on TV on New Year's Eve.

You can find my review here at inews

The Famous Five review: This isn't Enid Blyton made 'woke' - it's enchanting (

There is a limit to how many articles you can access on the newspaper's website each month, but you may be able to read it in this photo:

Enid Blyton has featured a lot on the blog, in all kinds of perhaps unexpected ways. Recently I was interested in billycock hats, so reread Five Go to Billycock Hill.  Janice Hallett's unusual crime book The Twyford Code feature Blyton in a lightly fictionalized form. A few Blyton books have their own posts, and she has also featured in comparisons with Dorothy L Sayers, James Bond, and a Len Tyler book, and in a consideration of schoolgirl detectives. 

You can find the collected posts here

My own view of her is that she was not a great stylist, and her work is not demanding, but on the plus side - she knew how to tell a story, and she got children reading. For me that trumps complaints. She made reading fun, exciting, and something you should carry on doing. You never ran out of Blyton books, until you decided to move on, and there's a lot to be said for that. 



  1. It is so difficult to reimagine a book that was written decades ago, Moira! Modern audiences just have different priorities, interests, and tastes. But it sounds as though this was done quite well, and very much kept to the joy of the original, but still appealed to contemporary views. Of course, Enid Blyton could tell a story, and as long as the filmmakers stuck to that, that's the main point, although it's very good to know that the 'isms' of the past are not the problem here that they might be. Lovely review!

    1. thanks so much Margot. It was fun to do something diffferent, and review a film for a change! And this is certainly a good one for the family. I would have loved it when the children were young - perhaps we'll still watch it, even though they are grown-up!

  2. The last "Famous Five" book I read was the very enjoyable "Five go to Brexit Island". Going by recent reports, biographies of Blyton would not be suitable for children

    1. They are ideal for satire and parody of all kinds.
      The BBC did a short series of dramatized biographies of famous women, maybe 10 or 15 years ago: Margot Fonteyn, Gracie Fields, Fanny Craddock, and Enid Blyton. They were marvellous, I enjoyed them all. Blyton - wonderfully played by Helena Bonham Carter - was a piece of work.
      In my piece, I mention a discussion on the Radio 4 Today programme: one of the participants was a biographer of Blyton, who obviously did not like her at all and disapproved of many aspects of the books. Biographers generally warm to their subjects, so interesting that this had NOT happened here. She was most certainly not defending Blyton.


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