#BlastfromthePast: The Queen’s Nose

I firstly have to apologise. There’s been a distinct lack of #SongoftheWeek#TweetHeeHee and indeed, any of the regular blog series these last couple of weeks. I can place the blame safely on recovering from this awful virus/cold doing the rounds that I have only just shifted, but which has left me rather low on energy to write. Now hopefully, back at full health, normal service can resume.

So to our first #BlastfromthePast of 2018, where we cast our eyes back to a forgotten film, TV show or book of yesteryear. And we’re kind of killing two birds with one stone this week – as one didn’t exist without the other. Let me explain whilst you play the obligatory YouTube video of the (slightly morbid) theme music…

First published in 1983, The Queen’s Nose is one of the best loved novels by popular children’s author and animal lover, Dick King Smith. The original book tells the story of 10 year old Harmony Parker, a feisty, adventurous and tomboyish character, who dreams of owning her own pet, despite the resistance of her uppish parents and spoilt elder sister Melody.

It is only when her mysterious, Nestor-esque Uncle Ginger returns from a trip away with a present for her, that her wish – and several others – are granted, when she is given a magical 50p coin that grants wishes everytime the Queen’s nose is rubbed – hence the name of the book and the aforementioned 50p. But she soon has to learn, as is often the case, that she has to be careful exactly what she wishes for.

Twelve years after publication in 1995, and in keeping with a lot of Dick King Smith’s works that were making the leap from the bookshelf to the small/big screen at the time (see the hugely successful Hollywood film adaptation of Babe, and the CITV adaptation of Harry’s Mad), his original book of The Queen’s Nose was adapted into a wildly successful six part series for Children’s BBC, with young actress Victoria Shalet cast in the role of Harmony (pictured above with Anita, the rabbit she wishes for in the novel and first series).

Such was the success of the show (it quickly became essential after school viewing for everyone, myself included), which saw it get nominated for a BAFTA for Best Children’s Drama, that a further six series, written by Steve Attridge, were shown during the course of the 90s and into the early 00s. It’s safe to say the second and third series were the only ones we followed in great depth, mind.

Fortunately, VHS rips of all three series are preserved on YouTube (playlist is above). In these further series, we see Harmony’s character – and that of her family – grow and develop, as she encounters all sorts of mishaps with the coin whilst adjusting to different life events, like the hardships they face when her dad is framed for financial misconduct at work, when she and Melody have to spend their summer holiday on a canal boat, or when school bullies steal the coin from her and turn a chemistry lesson into a foam party gone haywire.

True, some of the references in the writing have dated quite poorly with over 20 years’ distance, but the combination of magic, fantasy and intrigue and gritty, everyday reality was simply unbeatable. And any book/TV show that manages to make us wish we had our very own animal everytime we come into possession of a 50p coin has to be a good one.

What are your memories of this week’s #BlastfromthePast? Tweet me now @ThePensmith10 using the hashtag #BlastfromthePast and I may feature some of your Tweets in next week’s blog!

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