Stef was kind enough to send me this so I could review it this week, as I was out of ideas really. It’s the free CD that came with the Daily Telegraph, and as far as I can tell it hasn’t been released officially on CD unlike many of the others in the series. It even has two “tracks” as if it has been copied directly from the two sided cassette tapes. (The official disks have been split into around 14 tracks each lasting about five minutes. Though you’d only really notice that if you accidentally played it on shuffle.
Curiously the narrator begins by announcing The Five on a Hike Together, which isn’t right. It’s just Five on a Hike Together, though at times the group are called The Five as in The Five woke early that morning etc.
As with all the dramatisations much of the story is narrated rather than acted, otherwise it wouldn’t all fit into an hour – which would have been important when making cassettes especially as I think they mostly came in 30 minutes per side or 45 minutes per side.
That all means that there are lots of little things that get skimmed over or missed out. If you’ve read the book as many times as I have you’re bound to notice but for someone who has only read it a few times they may not.
One omission I noticed and thought was a pity was when the Five are having lunch in the shop and ask for sandwiches to take away. There’s a lovely scene where the woman asks how many and it’s counted in rounds. She tells them her son works at the prison and how many rounds he takes, and is surprised how many they want to eat each.
Then it’s also a shame that Timmy getting stuck down the hole is skimmed over (though it did save us from more of his awful barking I suppose.)
The voice acting is excellent throughout the tape, better than in Billycock Hill. We get to hear, who I have named, the Inn Lady, the Arr Man, the Old Deaf Woman (who sounds a whole lot better than Mrs Janes), the Postman, the Post Office Man, the Escaped Convict, Dirty Dick, Maggie and the Inspector.
The escaped convict is perfectly convincing, as is Dirty Dick but they don’t sound at all like I’ve always imagined in my head. I can’t describe how they sound really but generally rougher and harsher really. I thought Maggie sounded far too well-spoken considering she looks very tough and “as hard as nails” to quote Julian.
The nasty policeman in Reebles (I always want to say/type Peebles!*) isn’t an acted role which is a shame.
I didn’t notice much updating of the text but I was getting on with a few things as I listened so maybe I missed them. I did hear that kit-bags had become rucksacks though.
All in all a super listen along to one of my favourite books in the series.
*A genuine place – in Peeblesshire no less.