BBC4 commissions Enid Blyton biopic

Drama expected to focus on Noddy and Famous Five author's troubled private life. By Ben Dowell

Jolly good show! Stock up on the ham sandwiches and lashings of ginger beer – BBC4 has given the green light to a biopic of children's author Enid Blyton.

The corporation has confirmed that a single 90-minute drama charting the life of Blyton, creator of Noddy, the Famous Five, the Secret Seven and fantasies such as The Magic Faraway Tree will go into production shortly.

Carnival Film and Television will produce the drama, which is expected to air later this year or early next year. Producers are remaining tight-lipped on the casting.

BBC4 has enjoyed great success with one-off dramas on prominent British figures and the channel dominates the single drama category in this year's Royal Television Society awards, with two out of three nominations, for Margaret Thatcher – The Long Walk To Finchley and The Curse of Steptoe, about the stars of the sitcom, Wilfred Brambell and Harry H Corbett.

Carnival is run by former BBC drama executive Gareth Neame, who produced the drama series Harley Street and Whistleblowers for ITV, and its Blyton drama will follow those about Barbara Cartland, Mary Whitehouse and Fanny Cradock.

As with other recent BBC4 biopics such as those on the actor Kenneth Williams and the comedian Frankie Howerd, the Blyton drama is expected to focus on the bestselling author's troubled private life – which failed to resemble the jolly plots of her books.

This included her divorce from her first husband and how she suffered from the rows and the break-up of her parents.

"I think her approach to life was quite childlike and she could also sometimes be almost spiteful like a teenager," her daughter, Imogen Smallwood, said in a radio interview last year when discussing how the author was affected by her father abandoning his young family.

"[Blyton's biographer] Barbara Stoney suggested the trauma she suffered around about her 13th birthday was so huge that a lot of her emotional development just froze there and I think this is a very good way of looking at her," Smallwood said.

In Blyton's books, many of the characters were fatherless and in her 1989 biography of Blyton, Smallwood described her mother as an "emotionally crippled" woman.

The professional career of Blyton, once described as a "one-woman fiction machine", was hugely successful.

Born in 1897, Blyton's literary output was an estimated 800 books over roughly 40 years including books for very young children, such as Noddy.

But she is best known for her young readers' novels, where children embark on their own adventures with minimal adult help – such as the 21 Famous Five novels.

It was said that she wrote up to 10,000 words a day until she was afflicted with Alzheimer's Disease a few years before her death, aged 71, in 1968.

An estimated 400m copies of her books have been sold worldwide and she is the sixth most translated author in history.

• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000.

• If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly "for publication".


Ben Dowell

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
BBC4 to show Steptoe and Son biopic

BBC4 is to screen a drama based on the actors who played Steptoe and Son as part of a season of shows about renowned British entertainers. By Leigh Holmwood

Leigh Holmwood

27, Nov, 2007 @6:24 PM

Article image
The BBC's ban on Enid Blyton says more about its shortcomings than hers

Michael Hann: My parents banned Enid Blyton's books – but the BBC should not have done the same

Michael Hann

16, Nov, 2009 @4:37 PM

BBC4 unveils winter and spring lineup

Jessie Wallace and Kelvin MacKenzie both feature in BBC4's winter and spring 2007 lineup. By Chris Tryhorn.

Chris Tryhorn

17, Jan, 2007 @11:10 AM

Article image
Budget boost for BBC4

11.30am: As the channel prepares to celebrate its second birthday next week, BBC4 bosses have been handed an extra £10m to help them find the next Alan Clark Diaries, reports John Plunkett.

John Plunkett

24, Feb, 2004 @11:35 AM

Article image
BBC commissions Winnie Mandela drama

One-off drama Mrs Mandela will premiere on BBC4 and air on BBC2 in the same week later this year. By Ben Dowell

Ben Dowell

11, Mar, 2009 @3:33 PM

BBC4 chronicles classical music

10.45am: BBC4 is to air a landmark series about British classical music. By Ben Dowell.

Ben Dowell

11, Jun, 2007 @9:49 AM

Article image
BBC4 gets new look

8am: Digital arts and culture channel BBC4 is launching a new onscreen look later this month, using idents based around optical illusions. By Jason Deans.

Jason Deans, broadcasting editor

07, Sep, 2005 @2:37 PM

Article image
Thriller hits high for BBC4

5pm: BBC1 thriller State of Play may have lost the ratings battle to ITV, but a preview episode on BBC4 gave the digital channel its biggest ever audience. By Jason Deans.

Jason Deans

19, May, 2003 @4:04 PM

Article image
BBC4 to resurrect After Dark

Notorious late night chat show After Dark, on which the late Oliver Reed once drunkenly tried to kiss a leading feminist writer, is being brought back by BBC4. By Jason Deans.

Jason Deans

28, Jan, 2003 @2:50 PM

BBC4 ventures into costume drama

8am: Highbrow digital channel BBC4 is to make its first venture into costume drama with an adaptation of a trilogy of novels set in London in the 30s. By Chris Tryhorn.

Chris Tryhorn

19, Nov, 2004 @7:39 AM