For me, Blyton was always an easily assailable target, particularly when Noddy appeared on television. Years ago I wrote a column taking the mickey out of Blyton’s writing with particular reference to Noddy and the Famous Five, the characters I knew best.
My late colleague, Owen Coetzer was quite offended by what I wrote, declaring himself a steadfast, lifelong supporter of Blyton. Then the letters came in – and the telephone calls from adult fans of Blyton.
The oldest caller was a British grandmother with a strong regional accent. She didn’t identify herself but said I had destroyed all her memories of Blyton and would never be able to redeem the pleasure she used to receive when reading Blyton’s stories to her grandchildren. She went on and on in this wistful tone for at least 10 minutes. I felt increasingly guilty and hoped she would forgive me.
Suddenly she changed. In a bolder voice she declared in ungrandmotherly tones: “I think you’re a bulls***ter!” And slammed down her telephone.
Nice, as Onslow from TV’s Keeping Up Appearance might say.
Try as I may, however, I could not watch Noddy on TV without wanting to send it up. Another late colleague, Garth Verdal, once told me he’d seen written on a wall in London’s underground, “Big Ears is a screaming queen”.
Given the Toytown
pair’s questionable relationship, that was inevitable really, and I do believe Noddy and Big Ears are no longer illustrated in bed together.
Besides, occasionally vicious satirist Robert Kirby and pop-eyed comedian Terry Lester in cabaret used to read Noddy stories aloud, with unsuitable “adjustments” to make them sound vulgar.
Regarding the Famous Five, Terry Lester always used to ask in a lascivious voice what the brothers, Dick and Julian, got up to when leaving the others to themselves.
It would be wonderful if a clever British writer were to devise a satirical TV series based on Blyton characters. It might garner Blyton fans she might never have had.