Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five have undergone a radical 21st-century makeover for a new Disney cartoon series Famous Five: On The Case. The members of the new Famous Five are children of the original five created in 1942 – team leader Julian, Dick, George, Anne and the dog Timmy. They are Jo, Max, Allie and Dylan together with their pet dog, Timmy.
The kids share their parents’ love of adventure and mystery-solving. However unlike their parents they are iPod-wearing children who fight off their enemies using mobile phones and other modern-day gadgets, and uncover plots like a pirate DVD factory, whose owner, a phony environmentalist, has been embedding subliminal messages in the discs to brainwash children.
Anglo-Indian Jo – short for jyoti, a Hindu word meaning light – is the daughter of George, short for Georgina Kirrin, the tomboy of the original series. Jyoti is the team leader of the new series. George, who has been interpreted as a lesbian by an irreverent generation in recent years, traveled to the Himalayas and fell in love with Raavi and married him. She will make a guest appearance in the first adventure – as plant-loving Aunt George. I know that it is a law of the modern British media that any group of three has to contain one person from a visible ethnic minority. And I am quite prepared to believe that George reached the Himalayas.
Max, 13, is Julian’s son who enjoys adrenalin-packed sports. Twelve-year-old Allie, the daughter of Anne, who was born in California, loves shopping and sending text messages to her friends. Dylan, 11, the son of Dick, is the gadget geek and wannabe tycoon. Timmy the dog remains Timmy the dog – to the relief, perhaps, of generations of Blyton fans.
Steve Aranguren, of the Disney Channel, said the new series, which starts in May, captured Blyton’s themes of mystery and adventure. Laura Clunie is the series producer.
Sanchita Basu, a 19-year-old university student who has devoured Enid Blytons since the age of five, said although it was good to see “some diversity,” the new characters seemed to be the product of an American marketing exercise. You really don’t need to update the Famous Five. The tales are timeless and modern enough.”