see­hear

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

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.

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