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on 3 April 2012
It is amazing how this gem of a series has been bypassed by DVD distributors for so long. This classic series was shown only once on ITV in 1978 (episodes 1 - 13) and in 1979 (episodes 14 - 26), and NEVER repeated following the demise of the regional ITV company that made it (for those too young to know, every 10 years, various companies had to bid to transmit their programmes on the ITV network, hence the old fashioned regions of "Granada, HTV, Anglia, etc; Southern TV which made this disappeared in 1981 when the franchise for the south of England was won by TVS). Interestingly, many viewers never got to see the very last episode, part 2 of "Five go Down to the Sea" as - just days after part 1 was screened - ITV was hit by a long and protracted strike through several months of the summer of 1979.... the days when, with only 3 channels in the UK, we had to make do with just BBC1 and BBC2. When ITV flickered back to life in the early autumn, some ITV stations showed the last two episodes, but some didn't.

At least viewers were lucky enough when the series was one of the first to be released on sell-thru video when the home video market took off in the early to mid 1980s. So how come it has taken until now to be officially released on DVD? According to the Enid Blyton Society website, it was "copyright issues" which prevented this from happening, with DVD distributors apparently reluctant to release it incase someone popped out of the woodwork claiming the copyright belonged to them.

So Congratulations to the German company Koch Media for finally doing what UK distributors should have done over 10 years ago. "German?" you ask! This is because the series has remained extremely popular in Germany where it was repeated on tv a number of times over the years. I bought their German release when it came out some time ago with a number of extras not mentioned in Amazon's description above. This included a booklet about the series and how it was made, whilst the disks contained new interviews with the surviving cast members. "Surviving"? - you ask again. I'm sorry to upset anyone who didn't already know, but Michelle Gallagher who played George died over 10 years ago. This is very sad, as those of us who grew up watching the series as children almost felt as if we knew her, as we took her's and the others' performances to our hearts. I hope Koch include the same extras on the English version.

So now you are asking why am I, a 49 year old going on about a children's television series? This is because this particular version of the Famous Five is once seen but never forgotten. It was so well made with incredibly well adapted (and shortened) scripts that did not always follow the books, had child actors who you could believe in, and was sumptuously filmed on location around the New Forest area of Hampshire. I bought the German release to show the series to my daughter, who loved it as much as I did when I was her age.

My message to parents of children of all ages today is to buy this series and let your kids see how good quality television drama made specifically for them looked in the 1970s. For those of us who watched it the first time round as children, buying it for your own children or even grandchildren is a perfect excuse to wallow in some 70s nostalgia ... a time when things were less complicated than they are now.

And before I finish, I must add - before anyone starts asking - why the first story on the disk is not "Five on a Treasure Island" as written by Enid Blyton, and is - instead - a totally new story called "Five on Kirrin Island" that introduces us to the characters in a different way. This is because, at the time the series was made, the Children's Film Foundation still had the rights to make a film of the first book, so Southern Television had to commission a brand new story to replace it. Southern wanted to make a third series of 13 episodes with more brand new stories specially written for them to screen in 1980, but the Enid Blyton Estate apparently refused to authorise this. Instead, Southern looked to make something else, and turned to Barbara Euphan Todd's "Worzel Gummidge" which they subsequently filmed starring ex Doctor Who, Jon Pertwee.
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on 14 August 2012
What immediately strikes you about this release - ( the compilation release from August 2012) - is the very appealing packaging - its like a hardback book, effectively a storybook with each series having a separate section at the front and the back, and a touching essay from Gail Renard (script editor and writer on the series) in the mid section, between the two series sections. There are a selection of photos in this section , as well as an episode guide. Have just started watching the episodes , and boy, do they take me back. The discs appear to be the same as the previous individual series releases from earlier in the year. Entertaining and very watchable.
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on 18 August 2012
My favourite programme as a child of the 1970s and early 1980s, I often wondered whether this would ever materialise on DVD. Not only has it finally arrived, but on receiving my copy, I was releived to see that this has been treated as something special, with its packaging and extras.

THE BOX SET: It does not come in a slip-case box, but is made in the form of an A5 book that unfolds into four panels which hold the six discs, and has a full-colour, high quality 10-page booklet attached in the middle. This contains cast and location photographs from the shows, covers of the various annuals, video tape covers and original film cannisters. Co-writer Gail Renard gives a lengthy account from the time with updates on where key figures are now. There then follows a brief synopses of each of the twenty six episodes.

THE DISCS: The twenty six episodes are spread over the six discs. DISC THREE contains a trailer and 50 minute interview with Gail Reynard, Marcus Harris (Julian), Gary Russell (Dick) and my childhood and teenage crush, Jennifer Thanisch(!). For fans and the curious alike, this is the jewel in the crown. It's wonderful to see them as they are now, all together and giving some wonderful accounts of this time which they all fondly remember. Their comparisons of the changes in Health & Safety is particularly amusing for people of my generation! DISC SIX contains numerous stills of the cast on-set and locations both then and now, various annual and video covers, a short 'Tribute to actors' which is basically just a segue of scenes of the locations today with some moving music. For some reason, there is also a repeat of the trailer.

WISH LIST: The galleries are not comprehensive, and there is rare (but available) original footage out there that has not been included: in a news interview with Marcus and Jennifer in 2008, it showed a clip of behind-the-scenes filming of an episode, which must be available in full somewhere. The German edition contains an extra disc, and I THINK it has more filmed extras (although I can't remember where I got that impression from, so please don't quote me on that!), so I may get that edition as well.

CONCLUSION: Although a fan will always want more, this could have been so much less. A real effort has been made to produce a quality product that makes you feel you have something special, with a booklet and extras that are worthwhile and not just token gestures. Something to treasure.
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on 27 August 2012
At last, I get to see the final minutes of each episode I had to miss in order to get to cubs on time! This beautifully presented collectors set (laid out as a book) is capable of taking pride of place on any book or video shelf. After searching through many other productions for some years (including some poor VHS issues) I must say that, in my opinion, this is the definitive production.
On viewing again after 30-odd years the first few stories did sit a little uncomfortably (it is all too easy to see the inspiration for the irreverent `Five go Mad...') but as the style settled and as the actors matured in their roles I really did find the stories exciting and quite gripping. Or maybe I was simply revisiting my childhood mind-set?
Anyway, with some pretty good production values (both originally, and in this DVD edition), superb character actors, classic 70's incidental music, and super scenery around the South Coast (such as the Solent and New Forest) it is almost a shame that the episodes were never longer. And this collection, at 700 minutes, is great value for money. I thoroughly recommend `The Famous Five - The Complete Collectors Edition', especially to those who wish to recapture their youth!
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on 19 June 2016
Six DVD Boxset Featuring The Original Seventies Series Of Enid Blyton's Famous Five. Based on The original classic books which we have all read at some point in our lives The series faithfully captures The Transition of stories from book to screen. Five On Kirrin Island Five Go To Mystery Moor Just Two of The many Titles of original Five Adventures included in The collection. The Disc's have all been remastered offering really The best picture Quality available. A Trailer for The series is olso on view Quite rare To see These days. The real bonus is an updated interview with several members of The cast as They are Today and comparing Them with The many clips on view when They really were just youngsters. The series offered The Grown ups To shine with The cream of British Talent on view featuring Patrick Troughton and Rupert Graves To name a few. But as Enid Blyton's Anne, George, Dick & Julian It's The young stars of The series That Take The center stage its Their series and They know it. From secret passageways secret caves and foiling The bad guys The stories leap from Blyton's printed page to enthral TV viewers young and old. The whole collection comes in The shape of a book just as you would be reading The original books. within The pages an informative booklet Detailing The episodes and background information on The series and it's young stars. if I had one little niggle with The collection it Does not list The episodes on The actual Disc's while The booklet Does include an episode guide again these are not numbered To The relevant Disc. if I want To view say Five On Kirren Island you really are fumbling about with your six Disc's To find it. But This is a minor fault really from a very impressive DVD release. The Famous Five would return in The middle eighties with a new series and a new cast but it lacked The charm of This The original classic 70s series Enid Blyton was often letting her young characters Drink Ginger beer lashings of Ginger beer she would often use The phrase Throughout her Five books This collection is lashings of Good fun.
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on 11 May 2016
Have been reading the famous five stories to my 8 & 6 year olds, which they have been thoroughly enjoying, and bought these DVDs to enjoy at the end of each book. I wil only let them watch an episode when we've finished a book. The stories on the dvd's aren't exactly the same, and in some cases are only loosely based on the books with the same episode titles, incase anyone else is looking for an exact replica of the stories from the books. Often characters are completely omitted or new individuals added who are an amalgamation of a few. The episodes aren't in the same order as the books either though it is easy enough to watch them in the same order as the books as each episode is entitled by the same name as the books, and some are in two parts, so the stories are longer! Despite buying theseI haven't let my children watch them all yet as I felt if I let them see all the dvd episodes first it would spoil surprises when reading the stories, which are of course always so much better than any television adaptation. We are currently on book 12/21 and and it is working really well! Whenever we finish reading a book we watch an episode! Great fun! The series is obviously old fashioned by modern standards, but as an adult I love it as the children are all so polite and kind to each other, which is how I's like my children to be to one another! Also the famous five are such good role models. They act with integrity and moral considerations. There is no swearing, blasphemy or other objectionable content. I hope it will have a good impression on them anyway! Lovely series! Totally recommend it, but in no way a replacement from reading the actual stories themselves.
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 August 2017
I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to literary adaptations, and I was hesitant about this dvd set with the Famous Five set in the 1970s. I bought it more out of curiosity than anything else, but as soon as I watched it I loved it. Although the Five have been plucked from their 1950s milieu and deposited in the then contemporary 70s, it works incredibly well and the spirit of the original stories remains intact. I remember watching the 1990s adaptation and feeling that the dialogue seemed stilted, and that it often felt like a parody if the 1950s. Moving the Five into contemporary times allowed the dialogue to be more natural, and this makes the series feel more authentic in my opinion. Most of the stories are here although book one, Five on a Treasure Island, couldn't be filmed due to rights issues. So episode one is Five on Kirrin Island, where the Five meet for the first time. Each episode is full of drama and humour, and the four child actors do a great job of capturing the characters of Julian, Dick, Anne and George. German actor Michael Hinz is a very good Uncle Quentin, temperamental and impatient at times but warm and kind at others. There are lots of well known actors throughout; Brian Glover, Patrick Troughton, Ronald Fraser and a very young Rupert Graves, to name a few. The whole series exudes the warmth and fun of the original books and I wish I'd bought it years ago.
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on 8 March 2015
Dreadful adaptation.
The best actor is the dog - the children other than Anne are all miscast.
The production is leaden and doesn't capture the excitement that the Jemima Roper version does.

The Jemima Roper/Marco Williamson version suffers from a too big Julian and sequence of jumbled stories in the Series but it's got pizazz, a sense of excitement and adventure and has a wonderfully irascible eccentric uncle Quentin.

Give this a big miss and get the Dutch series.
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on 17 June 2013
I have always been a big fan of this show when I was a child and was delighted to see it released finally on DVD (no more paying the internet pirates for copies of the show taped off the old VHS!) The episodes are re mastered (or certainly look it) and the box the DVDs comes in is very attractive designed like a book in itself. The episodes are as you would expect, very good wholesome fun, although it can be amusing to watch some of the characters (the male guest stars I'm thinking about) They all are camper then a row of tents, and some of them were far too over the top, but I suppose that adds to the charm. The thing that everyone was looking forward to is seeing the cast members speaking about their time on the series. The interview lasts for 50 minutes and one wonders why they didn't think to have the cast do episode commentary as an extra feature. Anyway, it was good to see them together (the woman who plays Anne is now a teacher and looks vaguely embarrassed about ever having done it, while the guy who played Dick seems to be the one who is more into the series, recounting things which the others say "oh yeah!" as if they hadn't thought of it for years. The main "elephant in the room" however is the absence of Michele Gallagher who played George. Sadly Michele died around 2000 but this is not mentioned except for right at the very end of the documentary where they simply say "Michele would have liked this", then before they speak more, the guy who plays Julian chimes in with "Well, there are lots of actors who appeared in the Famous Five who are no longer with us" That steers the conversation away from the subject that every fan wants to know about. Basically (from what is repored on the internet) it seems that Michele did not have a happy life, got into things she shouldn't and then (it has been reported) took her own life. Not a very Enid Blyton way to live and therefore does not fit well into the "jolly good show, anyone for more Ginger Beer?" vibe of the Famous Five, hence why she is not mentioned much. Other than that, the DVD is a great way to relive your youth.
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on 27 November 2012
This was bought for my son who is 8 years old, he is totally absorbed by it.This is clean old fashioned adventure fun which is so lacking in childrens lives at the moment. It encouraged him to read the books as well.
I would definately recommend it, we also enjoyed it as a family.
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