Writing for the Famous Five television series was pure fun. It was one of the first shows I ever wrote; I was good friends with the other main writer, Richard Sparks; and it was filmed on location during summers in the New Forest. Iíd also loved the books as a child. I couldnít wait to see the kids who were cast as Julian, Dick, Anne and George; and when I met Marcus Harris, Gary Russell, Jennifer Thanisch and Michele Gallagher, I wasnít disappointed. The kids looked like Iíd always pictured the characters. They were bright, talented and professional and I soon found I could buy their friendship with ice creams. It worked for all of us.
We made 26 half hour episodes and had some incredible guest stars, including the former Doctor Who, Patrick Troughton, Brian Glover, Ronald Fraser and loads more. I donít think we appreciated at the time how lucky we were. Sadly, the series came to an end after two years simply because we ran out of books. But itíd done very well and had been popular around the world, so we went out on a high. The series came out on video too, but eventually the tapes disintegrated and we all got on with our lives. But we didnít count on the Internet some 30 years later.
First Marcus found me and we arranged to meet for lunch. When he walked into the restaurant, it wasnít the 15 year old boy I remembered, but a tall, handsome man whoís now a successful businessman and local politician, and an actor as well. We quickly caught up and it dawned on me that though the Five seemed like kids to me at the time, there hadnít been such a big age difference between us all. Marcus and I chatted away like the old friends we were and he brought me up to date on Gary, whoís a writer, and Jennifer, who leads a more private life. I was still in touch with Richard Sparks, who now lives in L.A., so we all arranged to meet on his next visit to London.
The five of us were thrilled to be together again and it all grew from there. Other people began finding us too, and we were asked to do various interviews and reunions. Weíre happy to oblige because weíre pleased that people still think of our series fondly; and it gives us a great excuse to have dinner together.
Then Karl Kolar and Andrea Blatter told us they were trying to get a DVD of our series released. I wished them luck, but I didnít think it would ever happen. Over the years, itís proved impossible to find out who currently owned the rights to the series. I still donít know how Karl and Andrea did it, but thanks to persistence and hard work, they did. The complete Collectorís Edition of Famous Five DVDs exists today only because of them, and Iím very grateful.
Itís been a revelation for me to see the shows again. They were originally made on film, and I last saw them on a 1980s television set, long before the advent of High Definition. The pictures werenít very sharp and the video tapes of the series looked even worse. But now our programmes have been digitalised at great expense and with enormous care, and the quality of the DVDs is amazing. I can honestly say Iíve never seen our series look so good.
The Famous Five has had an incredible journey and something tells me weíre not finished yet. I want to thank everyone for coming with us along the way. Best of all, Marcus, Gary, Jennifer, Richard and I are still friends and we consider ourselves a family: the Kirrin family. And Iíll buy them all ice creams any time they like.
Original text: Gail Renard
Reproduced with the kind permission of Gail Renard
The reproduction of the content, wholly or in part, without written permission from the author and the translators, is forbidden!