This morning I watched a cartoon version of Noddy with Ned – it’s definitely not the same Toyland that I remember. In the 1980s the Noddy books, and in fact all of Enid Blyton’s works were edited to delete any references that were deemed to cause offence.
The cheeky Golliwogs that were in the books were removed because their inclusion was seen to be racist and they have been replaced by a character called Dinah Doll. And of course Noddy and Big Ears no longer sleep in the same bed. I don’t think poor Enid Blyton really meant for those things to be read into the Noddy stories but it seems that all her books have elements that are deemed to be un-PC these days.
Really I think the biggest attraction of Noddy was actually the illustrations and I have never known who they were illustrated by until now. Eelco Martinus ten Harmsen van der Beek was a Dutch artist and really responsible for making Noddy the recognisable character he is today. The appeal of his use of bold, bright primary colours and cute Toyland landscapes and characters is what drew children in, including myself, and obviously still does. When van der Beek died in 1953 his tradition was carried on by five other artists including Robert Tyndall who will be illustrating a new Noddy book to be released next year. The book will be written by Sophie Smallwood, great granddaughter of Enid.
Noddy on television is the longest running character in British history and the books, in various forms, and toys are still hugely popular in most countries.
In a recent article in BBC News Magazine article, Phillip Pullman the amazing author of The Dark Materials series said this.. ‘Take Swallows and Amazons or Tom’s Midnight Garden and you can read them for the pleasure in the style. There’s no pleasure in reading Enid Blyton’s style. There’s no sense of delight or joy in the language.’
Too harsh? I guess we all need a bit of slush in our lives whatever the age.