Bestselling boys' adventure book set for big and small screens

It sold 1.5 million copies and has been widely credited with introducing a generation of young couch potatoes to the joys of conkers, outdoor games and tree houses, complete with bumped heads and scraped knees. Now The Dangerous Book for Boys is to make its debut on large and small screens.

A new "factual" series based on the book, featuring celebrity fathers and their sons, is to appear on TV screens later this year.

The six-part weekly series being made for Channel 5 will feature celebrity fathers and their sons on adventurous expeditions, experiencing Boy's Own-style adventures. The book will also be adapted for the big screen after Disney bought the film rights.

The Disney film will be the latest of a series of classic children's books being adapted by top Hollywood directors for the big screen. Among those currently filming or scheduled to shoot soon are award-winning director Spike Jonze's version of author Maurice Sendak's book Where the Wild Things Are.

One of the celebrities lined up to take part in the TV adaptation of The Dangerous Book for Boys is comedian Vic Reeves and his son Louis. According to the producers, the programme, which is currently being filmed in the UK for Channel 5, will show the sons following in the footsteps of their fathers' childhood heroes such as the Dambusters, Captain Scott, Nelson and the Black Knight. Quite what the celebrity fathers and their sons will be expected to do is currently being kept secret.

Malcolm Clark, executive producer for the TV company Mentorn that is putting the show together, said: "We've got the chance to explore the relationship between fathers and sons – one of those touchstone contemporary subjects – but in a really fun, warm-hearted way." The pilot will be transmitted later this year.

The Dangerous Book for Boys, written by brothers Conn and Hal Iggulden, was written to drag the PlayStation generation off their parents' sofas and encourage boys to rediscover the pastimes enjoyed by previous generations.

Covering around 80 topics, including tips on how to build a tree house, build and race your own go-kart and identify Shakespeare's best quotations, the book reached No 1 in the UK non-fiction charts several times.

Conn Iggulden, said: "I'm delighted to see fathers and sons celebrated on TV. I haven't had so much fun with an idea since I blew my eyebrows off making fireworks." But it's not just the small screen the book has been adapted for. It will also make its debut on the silver one after Disney and US producer Scott Rudin teamed up to buy the film rights to the book after a bidding war.

Celebrated horror director Sam Raimi is directing Terry Pratchett's book The Wee Free Men, while Wes Anderson and Oscar-nominated Guillermo Del Toro are directing film versions of Roald Dahl's The Fantastic Mr Fox and The Witches.

It is yet to be revealed, however, how Disney will adapt for successful interpretation on the big screen the Igguldens' book, with its "how-to" manual style and absence of a traditional narrative structure.

Fans of the book also question how faithfully Disney will keep to the ethos of the book. It was extensively rewritten for the American market when it made its US debut. The authors replaced such British childhood staples as conkers with the US game of stickball. They also traded the section listing the kings and queens of England and Scotland with the "most valuable players" in baseball.

THE DIRECTORS' CUT

As celebrated Hollywood directors go they are not renowned for their family-friendly films: some of their output is more likely to frighten children than entrance them. Guillermo Del Toro's 'Pan's Labyrinth', Sam Raimi's 'The Evil Dead', Spike Jonze's, 'Jackass: The Movie' and Wes Anderson's 'The Darjeeling Limited' were never likely to get PG certificates.

Yet all four of Tinseltown's most unconventional directors are at the forefront of a new wave of film adaptations of modern classic children's books. Anderson is working on a stop-motion animation version of Roald Dahl's 'The Fantastic Mr Fox'. Jonze, Oscar-nominated for 'Being John Malkovich', is finishing off a hotly anticipated take on the much-loved picture book 'Where The Wild Things Are'. And Del Toro, whose allegorical fantasy of the Spanish Civil War, 'Pan's Labyrinth', won massive critical acclaim, has lined up another Dahl classic, 'The Witches'.

Others making their first films aimed explicitly at children include Sam Raimi, pencilled in to direct Terry Pratchett's 'The Wee Free Men', and Peter Jackson, who will work with Steven Spielberg on a remake of the 'Tintin' books.

"All these books are nailed-to-the-wall classics," said Helen O'Hara, reviews editor of 'Empire'. "Hollywood has decided that you have to give these odd little directors a chance with stuff like this."

However, the US failure of 'The Golden Compass', which was critically slated, may yet give the studios pause. There have already been rumours of trouble on the set of 'Where The Wild Things Are', with Jonze reportedly forced into reshoots to make his vision a little less petrifying.

Not that Dave Eggers, who adapted the screenplay for 'Where the Wild Things Are', was discouraged by that.

"They're too often washed clean," he said, "so Spike, Maurice [Sendak] and I just decided we needed to make the book really wild and dangerous again, and unexpected. The movie is really unlike anything anyone will expect."

Anderson set out with the same goal of remaking a classic. "There's a whole new bit at the start and a new section at the end," he said of 'Mr Fox'. "But we've tried to do something Dahl would love."

Other Dahl adaptations, including a previous disastrous version of 'The Witches' were far from the writer's taste. According to Alan Garner, whose 'Elidor' books terrified adults and children alike when they were adapted for the screen, that would be because they didn't take children seriously enough. "The assumption is that children need to be talked down to," he said. "They are not given the credit they deserve."

Archie Bland

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tv 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there