What brilliant fun this is! It’s clearly aimed at a young audience, but, especially as we’re confined to barracks at present, I suspect that a lot of “grown-ups” will be having a cracking nostalgia-fest with it. They really have done an excellent job with a limited and mostly very young cast. The main characters are all in there, and we’ve got midnight feasts (although I can’t say that I ever envisioned them involving china cups and teapots), lacrosse practice and tricks being played on teachers. Am I the only person who’s ever tried to make a lacrosse stick by attaching a piece of wood to a bin? OK, don’t answer that. I was only about 7 at the time, to be fair. I’m quite sure I’m not the only person who was obsessed with the idea of midnight feasts, though.
And they’re swimming in a seawater cove. I assume that the pool in the books was actually a proper pool, just somehow fed by seawater, but this is way better. The moral lessons, which aren’t overly preachy in Blyton books, are in there, and a bit of feminist debate’s been chucked in too, with Darrell doing a lot of talking about careers for women, and Gwen only wanting to bag a husband. Some of the storylines from the first book are there, and the actual characters of the girls are true to the books. There are several plots which definitely aren’t in the books – one of them’s been half-inched from “Theodora and the Chalet School”, and I’m not sure how a ghost story got in there – so purists may have a few issues with it, but it’s nice, clean fun, and I’m sure we could all do with some of that at the moment.
Alicia has somehow become American, which completely confused me because I thought at first that she must be Sadie, and then remembered that Sadie was at St Clare’s, not Malory Towers, and got even more confused! [ETA – oops, sorry, she’s Canadian!] I’m glad that they’re pronouncing it A-LISS-ee-a, by the way, because that’s how I’ve always pronounced it, but the name now seems to have become A-leesh-a. The colour blind casting is great, but the American accent did confuse me a bit. Mamzelle (Rougier, but a combination of Rougier and Dupont) has been made very chic, but I suppose the idea of the stupid Frenchwoman might not work so well now. The same with the famous slapping scene – that definitely doesn’t feature. [ ETA – a-ha, yes it does, it’s in the 4th episode, and I’d only watched the first three when I wrote this!!] Miss Potts is also rather elegant, and no-one’s yet referred to her as “Potty”. Matron is now the comedy figure. Miss Grayling is suitably wise and inspirational, although sadly we didn’t get her famous speech welcoming Darrell to Malory Towers.
As far as Darrell starting at the school goes, it’s been explained that she and some of the others have changed schools. It never did make sense how they arrived for the first year but some of the girls had already been there a while, so that sorts it!
And I’m very glad that it’s been left in the 1940s, where it’s meant to be. The books don’t actually say anything to set it in a particular time, but this showed a soldier and a sailor on the platform at the station, and reference was made to Darrell’s mum and others being traumatised by the events of the war. The uniforms are utterly vile, though. Couldn’t they have dressed them in brown gymslips?
Don’t be expecting the story to be faithful to the books, because it isn’t, but I really am enjoying it. In these strange times, something safe and familiar from childhood days is very welcome. And there are 13 episodes, so, if you’re in a country with access to BBC iPlayer and you haven’t done so already, get watching 🙂 !