I feel a bit bad about it but this week I listened to Five on Finniston Farm for free – on YouTube. It’s the sort of thing I’ll probably buy at some point (though I wouldn’t pay £4 or £5 for the free Daily Telegraph version!) but at the moment it was tough to justify another £8 on CDs to blog about them.
So anyway, it’s on Youtube in 7 parts though thankfully it’s part of a playlist so they all run one after the other. On the down side a few seconds of recording are missing between a couple of sections so I missed a bit of George taking Junior his breakfast in bed and the farm hands finding the Five under the chapel floor near the end. I can’t really complain, though!
The first thing I noticed was that although the narrator is the same, the voice actors are different to the ones I’m used to. They’re perfectly good but they aren’t the ones I’m familiar with which slightly spoils it for me. On the other hand Timmy’s “voice” is a hundred times better and he actually sounds like a real dog for once.
I had the book beside me and read along for the first chapter or two just to see what the differences were. So much has to be missed out but I noticed rather than missing entire chunks or pages, lines here and there are included so that you don’t feel like half the book isn’t there. Dick is no longer so rude to the girls when they arrive though, and even offers to take their cases rather than George having to prompt him.
One of the best scenes in my opinion is when Mr Finniston is given time to tell the whole story about Finniston Castle and the night it was burned down. I like that story and I’m glad they didn’t try to skim over it.
As usual there are plenty of characters given voices and they’re mostly good. The Harries talk together for the first while (until they make friends with the Five) and the Philpots and Great-Grandad are all good, each with a very homely country accent. Mr Henning’s American accent is passable but Junior’s isn’t so convincing but it isn’t so bad that it ruins things. Old Mr Finniston from the antique shop is really good, he really sounds the part.
The farm is full of sound effects like cows and the Land Rover, and Nosy the jackdaw gets to be heard too though I can’t recall Snippet barking. The Hennings still ring their bells for room service but instead of an actual bell it sounds like a game show buzzer which is rather incongruous.
Money has also been updated in the story. In the book the Philpots are offered £50 for the old studded door that originally hung in the castle, and then Mr Durleston advises it is worth £200. Now they’re offered £4,000 for it. He also advises Mr Henning to offer £250 to excavate and a further £250 if they find anything. This has been changed to £5,000.
This is one of my favourite titles in the series and I enjoyed listening to it online tonight.