Famous Five seek new lease of life with cartoon

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The Independent Culture

There never were any lashings of ginger beer when the original Famous Five went adventuring. That was the creation of the spoofFive Go Mad in Dorset. But everything else about Enid Blyton's young friends and their jolly scrapes is to get a new lease of life in the first animated series to feature Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog.

The British intellectual property firm Chorion, which owns Blyton's literary copyright, has charged a Paris-based production company with the responsibility of rejuvenating the 63-year-old British institution. Marathon, which also produces Totally Spies and Martin Mystery, is developing 26 half-hour episodes. They are expected to be broadcast early in 2007.

Waheed Alli, the television entrepreneur now chairman of Chorion, said: "The Famous Five represent the heartland of Blyton for generations of young readers throughout Europe."

The company regained control of the rights to make new television programmes last month when a previous deal lapsed and immediately set about capitalising on what Lord Alli described as "this valuable brand".

The first Famous Five adventure, Five on a Treasure Island, was published in 1942; it was followed by a further 20. They have never been out of print, have been translated into 30 languages and still sell 1.4 million copies every year in Europe.

Publishers in France and Germany regularly commission ghost-written titles and UK publishers have developed a spin-off series featuring the tomboy character George, short for Georgina, the character Blyton based on herself at the age of 12.

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