Page last updated at 09:02 GMT, Sunday, 15 November 2009

'Small beer' Blyton banned by BBC

Enid Blyton
Enid Blyton's work contained too many pixies, BBC memos revealed

Children's author Enid Blyton was banned from the BBC for nearly 30 years because her work was considered "small beer", archive documents have revealed.

The best-selling writer unsuccessfully approached the corporation several times to get her material on the radio.

Executives considered the Famous Five and Noddy creator "second-rate" and lacking literary value, according to 18 newly released letters and memos.

She first pitched ideas in 1936 but did not appear on Woman's Hour until 1963.


A memo about a short story stated: "Not strong enough. It really is odd to think that this woman is a best-seller. It is all such very small beer."

Another simply said "reject".

Head of the BBC schools department Jean Sutcliffe said in an internal memo dated 1938: "My impression of her stories is that they might do for Children's Hour but certainly not for Schools Dept, they haven't much literary value.

I and my stories are completely banned by the BBC as far as children are concerned - not one story has ever been broadcast
Enid Blyton

"There is rather a lot of the Pinky-winky-Doodle-doodle Dum-dumm type of name - and lots of pixies - in the original tales."

She added that they were "competently written".

In August 1940, the BBC's radio show Children's Hour rejected her play The Monkey and the Barrel Organ, saying it was "stilted and long winded".

In 1950 programme head Derek McCulloch, known as Uncle Mac, confirmed the existence of the ban in a "strictly confidential and urgent" memo.

Ms Blyton was also clearly aware of it. In a memo to a BBC producer she wrote: "I and my stories are completely banned by the BBC as far as children are concerned - not one story has ever been broadcast, and, so it is said, not one ever will be."

In 1954, responding to a query from the Woman's Hour editor as to whether Blyton could be interviewed, Ms Sutcliffe said she was concerned that the BBC would become "just another victim of the amazing advertising campaign which has raised this competent and tenacious second-rater to such astronomical heights of success."

The corporation eventually decided her material was fit for broadcast and she appeared on Woman's Hour in 1963.

A new drama telling the life story of the author, starring Helena Bonham Carter, is to be broadcast on BBC Four at 2100 GMT on Monday.

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