Get back on track with the Railway Children

21st April 2000 at 01:00
THE children's classic The Railway Children will chug back on to TV screens this weekend with its tried and tested mix of locomotives, costume drama and Jenny Agutter. But this time round the actress will play the mother of Roberta, the character she first played 30 years ago.

Jenny hopes the remake - to be screened at 8pm on Sunday - will lead to a revival of the author's books. "I read Edith Nesbit's books as a child but it

is only since I have been a mother that I have seen the full value of her work," she says.

"Because she wrote in another era it is easy to dismiss her work as irrelevant to our world and our children. What can they learn from a woman who could never have heard of television, let alone EastEnders or Pokemon? Nesbit expressed a desire to keep the magination alive into adulthood. Today this is harder than ever to achieve."

She believes the adventures of the children in stories such as The Phoenix and the Carpet and The Five Children and It have enduring messages about overcoming problems, making mistakes, but getting somewhere in the end.

She said: "Nesbit's children are practical, active beings, easily bored perhaps, but never cynical. When the children gather presents for Mr Perks they learn that a human emotion, in this case pride, can stand in the way of well-intentioned, positive deeds.

"The Roberta who is reunited with her father at the end of The Railway Children is somebody different to the more completely childish girl we meet at the beginning of the book."

Pick of the week, Friday, 35

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