While watching the new live-action remake of The Jungle Book, I couldn’t help thinking that there was another animal based series which could do with a big-screen, CGI re-imagining. When I was a kid there was a BBC TV show called The Animals of Farthing Wood. It was a simple show about a group of animals who find their forest under-threat from land developers about to tear down their habitat and make a new housing development. The animals who live in this forest undertake a journey to a national park called “White Deer Park” and the series followed this adventure.
So far, so ordinary and done before but there was something special about this story. For starters, the characters were brilliantly defined. Fox was the hero, the leader who would risk all to save his friends. Badger was the wise adviser, keeping everyone in check and motivated while there was some evil in the group in the form of the snake (adder), who was always waiting for her chance to eat the smaller animals.
That was the second aspect of the show which worked. The animals had to work together to get to the White Deer park. Their journey would take them across rivers, farms, urban areas and in one quite nail-biting and memorable episode, a motorway (freeway) to get to their destination. The animals made a pact at the beginning of the journey not to eat each other but to cooperate instead. That didn’t mean there wasn’t danger and most notably deaths in the show.
The series wasn’t your usual children’s animated series and was actually quite a thrilling and dramatic show. Characters who were developed and considered “main” were regularly killed on the journey, in a Game of Thrones “no-ones safe” style. It made the series exciting to watch, as well as adding some peril to the overall journey.
There was even individual character arcs, especially for characters like Fox who found themselves detached from the group and having to make their own way back to safety. Even after the first season had ended, the show continued. The Animals of Farthing Wood weren’t necessarily welcome in their new home and the next two seasons would follow their story as they adapted to their new environment and dealt with new challenges and threats.
This is why the series would be perfect for a CGI/real life remake. The technology has moved on enough to bring the series to life properly and introduce these characters to a brand-new audience. It has a long-arcing story which would easily fill a ninety minute to two hour movie, as well as at least two more stories to cover any sequels.
The story is also a decent, more mature one. It would be a different approach to a “kid’s film” than many others. The Jungle Book demonstrated that a more dramatic story can work when aimed at a younger PG audience and The Animals of Farthing Wood could deliver that too.
Overall, for many British kids, The Animals of Farthing Wood will be a fond memory from their childhood. There is a ready made audience for a movie remake and the technology has moved on to do the tale proper justice. The story is written, all it would need is bringing to the screen and the campaign starts here.