"Send our love to Father". These immortal words will forever be etched into the brains of thousands of children who have delighted in reading E. Nesbit's classic heart-warming tale and, indeed, thousands of adults for whom Jenny Agutter will always be Bobbie. Yet thirty years on from Lionel Jeffries' original film, Simon Nye has adapted the story for a new generation and this time Agutter is not the ever-responsible older sister, but Mother.

The Railway Children is the beautiful story of a family torn apart by circumstance. Father (Michael Kitchen) is falsely accused of a crime and taken away one night much to the horror of his children, Bobbie (Jemima Rooper), Phyllis (Clare Thomas) and Peter (Jack Blumenau). Their world continues to be turned upside down as Mother announces that they are poor and must move away from London to live in the country. It is here that they turn to the trains for entertainment and befriend the loveable Perks (Gregor Fisher) and the scary station master (Clive Russell). It is also here that characters such as the Russian and Jim come back to life and scenes of the tree on the track are made fresh in the memory once again.

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Nye's adaptation is simply marvellous as he brings new life to the railway and especially everyone's favourite girl, Bobbie, played here by the delightful Rooper. Fisher is slightly typecast as the porter, but nonetheless brings that touch of comedy to the character. And not forgetting Agutter, who bravely took on the role as Mother when many actresses would find it daunting to return to the story that made their career all those years ago. Also, Richard Attenborough looks suspiciously like Santa Claus as the old gentleman on the train who helps Bobby on her adventures.

The Railway Children, no matter whether in the form of book or film, never ceases to delight. Even for those who know the story through and through, there is never a dull moment and always more than a tear shed as Bobbie finally gets her Daddy back and the family are once again reunited.

Definitely a must see for anybody who indulges in the joy of trains, racing through the English countryside, at a time when horse and carriage was the preferred mode of transport.

Reviewed on: 21 Mar 2002
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TV adaptation of the famous story about a family torn apart by circumstance.
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Director: Catherine Morshead

Writer: Simon Nye, based on the novel by E Nesbit

Starring: Jenny Agutter, Jemima Rooper, Jack Blumenau, Clare Thomas. Michael Kitchen, Gregor Fisher, Richard Attenborough, Clive Russell

Year: 2000

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: UK


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