Quick DVD Review – ‘Five Children and It’ (1991)

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ and I’m Tim Bradley!

My Mum received the DVD of the BBC’s 1991 adaptation of ‘Five Children and It’ for Christmas this year! My parents and I spent three days watching the six-part serial on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and the 27th. It was an intriguing experience watching ‘Five Children and It’ and was quite enjoyable.

The story is adapted by Helen Cresswell, based on the book by E. Nesbit. I’ve never read ‘Five Children and It’ as a kid. My Mum has, though it has been a while since she last read the book. I can’t be sure if the 1991 ‘Five Children and It’ is a faithful adaptation, but the BBC version must be more faithful than the film made in 2004.

‘Five Children and It’ is about a group of children who discover a mysterious creature called a Psammead (sam-mee-ad) – a sand fairy if you will – in the local sand pit. The Psammead agrees to grant the children a wish each day, although they find it ends up with disastrous consequences here.

Now, I must admit, I did feel a sense of randomness about the story featured in ‘Five Children and It’. I say that because I’m not sure if there was a certain direction the story was aiming for and it seemed to be all over the place, especially with the many wishes the children seemed to be making.

I suppose the moral of the story is ‘be careful what you wish for’ when the children ask for wishes from the Psammead. But I’m not sure if the children learnt their lesson by the end of the story, especially when they asked to have wings at the end, which did get them into trouble for a bit in this.

Incidentally, it’s more four children who get the focus rather than five. The fifth child happens to be a baby called the Lamb, played by twins Lewis and Alexander Newton. Simon Godwin as Cyril; Nicole Mowat as Anthea; Charles Richard as Robert and Tamzen Audas as Jane are the rest of the children!

The actors playing the children are decent enough and I enjoyed how they had their many wishes granted by the Psammead which are good at first but often lead into comedic disasters. But like I said, I wish the story concluded with them learning their lesson and not to ask for so many wishes. 😐

Also, the Psammead creature seems rooted to one spot in the sand pit. I give credit that the puppetry and animatronics for the Psammead is very good for its time and I enjoyed him being voiced by Frances Wright. But couldn’t he move from one spot as opposed to staying where he is? 😐

As well as having wings which leads Cyril, Mowat, Robert and Jane ending up stuck on the top of a church tower, the four children also wish for gold currency, an adventure in a castle, Robert becoming a giant and (unintentionally) seeing their brother the Lamb becoming a full-grown adult. 🙂

Seeing the grown-up Lamb played by Jonathan Donne was hilarious. It’s ridiculous, especially when he seems to think he’s going to a club and has a place in London, but to see how Jonathan Donne played that and ignoring his brothers and sisters was so funny that it has to be seen to be believed. 🙂

The Victorian period of the story in terms of the costumes and the houses being filmed in are very good. The BBC is very good at delivering well-executed period costume drama, especially for a children’s serial. The four children Cyril, Mowat and Robert and Jane look so good in Victorian attire.

The cast also includes Laura Brattan as Martha, who looks after the children while their mother’s away; Paul Shearer as Andrew who takes a shine to Martha; Penny Morrell as Lady Chittenden and Mary Conlon as the children’s mother. Everybody in the cast gives decent performances throughout.

I can’t say the BBC’s 1991 ‘Five Children and It’ adaptation of the book by E. Nesbit was spectacular and inspirational for me, but I’m glad I saw it. The story’s messages seem to be muddled by the end, but in a strange way, I did enjoy how the random wish-making often ended with catastrophic results.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

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