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The Famous Five (1978 TV series) facts for kids

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Famous Five
Genre Adventure, Children's
Written by Enid Blyton
Starring Michele Gallagher, Marcus Harris, Gary Russell, Jennifer Thanisch
Theme music composer Rob Andrews, Les Spurr
Country of origin UK
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 26
Producer(s) Don Leaver, Sidney Hayers
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 25 minutes
Original network ITV (Southern Television)
Audio format Mono
Original release 3 July 1978 (1978-07-03) – 8 August 1979 (1979-08-08)
Related shows

The Famous Five is a British television series based on the children's books of the same name by Enid Blyton. It was broadcast on ITV over two series in 1978 and 1979. It was produced by Southern Television in 26 half-hour episodes.


  • Michele Gallagher as George
  • Marcus Harris as Julian
  • Gary Russell as Dick
  • Jennifer Thanisch as Anne
  • Toddy (a border collie) as Timmy the Dog


The Famous Five was first broadcast on ITV on Monday 3 July 1978 at 4:45 pm. This was a year after it had been filmed and during production of the second series. The first episode was Five Go to Kirren Island (an incorrect spelling for Kirrin Island), although it was not the first episode filmed (Five Go to Mystery Moor). The first series proved popular and, to capitalise on its success, the first six episodes of the second series (which had been filmed in the summer of 1978) were broadcast on Sundays in November and December. The remaining seven episodes of the second series were broadcast on Wednesdays from June to August 1979 (again, a year after production). The Famous Five was sold to many overseas countries such as Ireland (where it was repeated in 1981, 1983 and 1985), Canada and Australia and was dubbed into many languages for the European market such as German (the series having been part-financed by a German company), French, Italian and Spanish.

The series made its Australian debut on ABC television on Tuesday, 22 May at 5:30pm, with the remainder of the first series screened on weekday evenings from that date. Thus the entire first series had been screened by early June. The second series premiered in Australia, again on ABC, on Tue 4 March 1980 at 5.00pm, as part of an afternoon line-up of children's programming, with new episodes following weekly. Episodes from both series were regularly repeated in similar afternoon time-slots on the ABC in the early to mid 1980s, before moving to a morning time-slot. The series was still being repeated as late as 1989.

The series spawned many merchandise items such as jigsaws and annuals, while Look-in magazine ran a picture-strip story each week for nearly two years. The theme music (contrary to popular belief, not sung by the cast but by the Corona Stage Academy choir) was released as a single in 1978, but failed to chart.

The scriptwriters who adapted Enid Blyton's books for the first series (of thirteen episodes) were Richard Sparks, Gail Renard, Richard Carpenter and Gloria Tors.


Series one

  • Five Go to Kirrin Island: Part 1 (Original transmission: 3 July 1978)
  • Five Go to Kirrin Island: Part 2 (10 July 1978)
  • Five Go Adventuring Again (17 July 1978)
  • Five Go to Smuggler's Top: Part 1 (24 July 1978)
  • Five Go to Smuggler's Top: Part 2 (31 July 1978)
  • Five Go Off in a Caravan (7 August 1978)
  • Five Go Off to Camp: Part 1 (14 August 1978)
  • Five Go Off to Camp: Part 2 (21 August 1978)
  • Five on a Hike Together (4 September 1978)
  • Five Go to Mystery Moor (11 September 1978)
  • Five on a Secret Trail (18 September 1978)
  • Five Go to Billycock Hill (25 September 1978)
  • Five on Finniston Farm (2 October 1978)

Series two

  • Five Get into Trouble - Prisoners (19 November 1978)
  • Five Get into Trouble - Conspiracies (26 November 1978)
  • Five Get into a Fix (3 December 1978)
  • Five Are Together Again: Part 1 (10 December 1978)
  • Five Are Together Again: Part 2 (17 December 1978)
  • Five Have a Wonderful Time (31 December 1978)
  • Five Fall into Adventure: Part 1 (27 June 1979)
  • Five Fall into Adventure: Part 2 (4 July 1979)
  • Five Run Away Together (11 July 1979)
  • Five Go to Demon's Rocks: Part 1 (18 July 1979)
  • Five Go to Demon's Rocks: Part 2 (25 July 1979)
  • Five Go Down to the Sea: Part 1 (1 August 1979)
  • Five Go Down to the Sea: Part 2 (8 August 1979)


Despite ITV's wishes to continue the series, no further episodes were made due to the Blyton estate's veto on the writing of new stories, although a new set of novels were published in France in 1981. These have been widely dismissed by fans of the original books, however. The four starring actors met up again in 1980 for a newspaper story on their progressing careers. By this time, only Gary Russell was continuing an acting career and he too soon gave it up. This was the last time the four met up although Russell, Harris and Thanisch have met a number of times since for interviews.

  • Jenny Thanisch (b. 24 April 1964) is now a mother and works as a school teacher in the south of England.
  • Gary Russell (b. 18 September 1963) gave up acting in the mid-1980s to concentrate on writing, as well as being the editor of several magazines. He was the script editor on the successful 2005 revival of Doctor Who.
  • Marcus Harris (b. 19 April 1964) embarked on a number of business ventures and later became a town councillor. Harris returned in a small cameo role in a German film based on the series titled Fünf Freunde 2 (literally "Five Friends 2", as by the German title for the series), which was released on 31 January 2013.
  • Michele Gallagher (b. 4 April 1964), who played the part of George Kirrin, disappeared from the public eye following the cancellation of the series. In 2006, rumors began circulating on the Enid Blyton Society website that Gallagher had died. In an interview for the German tabloid Bild-Zeitung in January 2012, Marcus Harris confirmed that Gallagher had died "a couple of years ago", though he gave no specific information as to the circumstances of her death, nor the exact date. The Internet Movie Database gives the year of her death as 2000, stating suicide as cause of death.
  • Toddy Woodgate the dog died shortly after filming was completed on the series.

In 1996 the books were revived again for another British television adaptation. This time, unlike the 1970s series, it was set in the 1950s. More recently, an animated version was made by the French company Marathon, which featured the children of the Famous Five.

For many years, the series was not released on DVD due to confusion over the ownership of rights to the television episodes, as well as complexities with the Enid Blyton estate. However, in October 2010, distributor Koch Media remastered the whole series and released it in Germany on Region 2 in a seven-disc DVD set (and on three Blu-ray Discs, respectively) with extensive bonus material including an interview with original cast members and their German counterparts who provided the voices for the German dubbed version. France followed in November 2011 with two 3-DVD sets (but only with the French dubbed version and no bonus material), whilst the complete series was finally released on DVD in the UK in June 2012 by Koch Media. A new 45-minute interview (recorded earlier in 2012) with the original cast is featured on one of the Series 1 DVDs.

The series saw a previous DVD release in Australia in 2005 by Reel Corporation, when the company released this version with images from the 1995-1997 version (the "Five on a Treasure Island" episode from that version was also included). The set was soon corrected (as a "revised edition") with images from the 1978 series, and reissued again in 2011.

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