There's not normally a week goes by when we don't get all nostalgic at work, and this week was no different. We were busy discussing Children's TV of today and how they don't really give out the same messages as kids TV "in our day". When every programme gave a message be it of strength or courage or perseverance. Helping others or consequences of your actions. This brought us onto the long forgotten subject of the Animals of Farthing Wood which teaches us about humans impact on the environment, pollution and ruining forests and a great starting point for discussing death with children.
The Animals of Farthing Wood was a children's animated series that aired between 1992 and 1995, it was based on the series of books written by Colin Dann.
The book/ TV Series followed the animals of Farthing Wood on their journey to White Deer Park ( a nature reserve where they would be protected).after they were forced to flee their homes because humans started destroying the wood in order to build houses. The story is not your nicey nicey tale, yes there are some happy moments (baby rabbits) but there are also nail biting elements and multiple main characters are killed or die during the journey, including the terrible death of children (Fox and Vixen's cub Bold dies and they only just get to him to say goodbye).
Series 1 chronicled the journey to White Deer Park and Series 2 took place in White Deer Park and chronicled the feud between the Farthing Wood animals and the hostile blue foxes. The third, and final, series chronicled the invasion of the rats into White Deer Park and the animals' attempts to fight them off.
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As mentioned the TV series was based around the books, Series 1 took it's storyline from "The Animals of Farthing Wood" whilst series 2 used the shorter books of "In the Grip of Winter", "Fox's Feud" and "The Fox Cub Bold". Series 3 was based on books "In the Path of the Storm" and "Battle for the Park". As a child I had and read most of these books, sadly they got lost or sold but I was able to pick up 2 of them in a charity shop just waiting to be shared with my boys.
The animals in the story were led by Brave Fox, who later went on to mate with Vixen and produce some adorable cubs; Bold, Charmer, Friendly and Dreamer.
The other main characters in the story featured:
Badger - who is very much a father figure to the animals, he dies during the series from old age after being looked after by Frond.
Toad - the guide on the journey to White Deer Park after finding it. In the TV series he survives but in the books he is killed at the hands of a rat. he mated with Paddock.
Owl - who is very pompous but acts as an eye-in-the-sky guide for the animals. In the books however she is male. She mates with Hollow/Holly.
Weasel - is the biggest character change. In the books he is quiet and reserved, yet in the books she is childish, loud and cheeky. She later mated with Measley in White Deer Park.
Adder - is female and has to prove herself to the smaller animals who fear she will not stick to the oath*. In the books Adder is male. Later she mates with Sinuous.
Kestrel - another character who is female in the TV series yet male in the books. she's the lookout for the group.
Mole - was slow and short-sighted. he was very greedy and often got left behind while he hunted for worms. He dies during the first winter in the park leaving behind his mate (Mateless/ Mirthful)) and children.
The Pheasants - who sadly were both shot in the first series.
Whistler - was a heron who joined the animals on their journey. He often flies on ahead in search of news of missing animals and reports back. Later mated with Speedy.
Scarface and Lady Blue are blue foxes who live in White Deer Park, they are responsible for killing most of the Farthing Wood animals.
The Great White Stag - leader of the White Deer Park animals, until he dies and the Rats took over.
The Rats (Bully, Spike and Brat) who took over White Deer Park after the White Stag's death until they are killed/ overthrown by the other animals.
There were also; Rabbits, Hares, Hedgehogs, squirrels, voles, shrews, fieldmice, lizards/ newts, frogs, stoats and many many more.
*The Oath of Protection stated the animals "must protect and help one another and most importantly not eat one another"
Like many books/ TV shows The Animals of Farthing Wood produced a huge merchandise following.
I remember fondle the 130 part "Farthing Wood Friends" magazine series featuring stickers, posters, stories and a "how to draw" series focusing on a different animal each fortnight. Mine were always kept in the yellow box like files, not the binders.
Do you remember The Animals of Farthing Wood? Who was your favourite character?