Swallows & Amazons

Sophie Neville with Arthur Ransome’s first draft of ‘Swallows and Amazons’

How can we find Arthur Ransome’s locations? Discover the maps in any of the editions of ‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons’ available on line  

The Making of Swallows and Amazons by Sophie Neville
Different editions of ‘The Making of Swallows and Amazons’ by Sophie Neville

Sophie often gives talks on ‘The secrets of filming ‘Swallows and Amazons’ (1974)’

Sophie Neville on News at Ten

~Speaking to Nina Nannar on ITV News at Ten~

Reputed to be the most frequently screened movie on television, Swallows and Amazons (1974) is currently streaming Amazon Prime, where you can watch the trailer here.


The Arthur Ransome Society is Britain’s second biggest literary society with over 1,000 members and branches in Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada. There are six regional committees in the UK: Scotland, Northern, Midland, Eastern, Southern and Southwest. The society offers grants for young members to travel and participate in Ransome-ish activities. It produces three different journals while keeping a book stall and extensive library. TARS is associated with The Arthur Ransome Trust, the Nancy Blackett Trust and the Arthur Ransome Club of Japan, along with Amazon Publications Ltd who publish original books and reprint works connected with Ransome.  Please click here for membership enquires.


The 2016 movie ‘Swallows and Amazons’ won the New York International Children’s Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival’s Films4Families Youth Jury Award and is distributed in the US by Samuel Goldwyn Meyer. Made on location in Cumbria and Yorkshire, it stars Kelly Macdonald, Rafe Spall and Andrew Scott and is available on DVD. StudioCanal have a trailer you can watch here

Click here for the website for Swallows and Amazons

swa_co_tra_ 008
Official photograph available for the press from StudioCanal showing Sten Grendon as Roger and Sophie Neville as Titty

The original film ‘Swallows & Amazons’ (1974) is often screened at summer festivals as it is one of the few movies that can be shown to the public outdoors.

Picturehouse cinemas enable the re-mastered version of ‘Swallows & Amazons’ (1974) to be used as a charity fundraiser. Request a screening at your local cinema and take along your local church or sailing club! 

Sophie Neville Q&A in Kendal


Sophie Neville on the Orwell 2017

~Sophie Neville on Anglia TV~

StudioCanal, who own the rights to the 1974 film, have a set of stills you can see by clicking here. You can order jigsaws, mugs, mousemats, T shirts and prints. Stills from the film, available for commercial use, are held by BFI  please click here

Sophie Neville with Swallow

To read the filmography posts about the 1974 film please go to: https://sophieneville.net/category/autobiography/

‘The Secret Life of Arthur Ransome’, presented by Griff Rhys Jones  currently available on BBC iPlayer.

Sophie has spoken about Swallows and Amazons on ITV News, Anglia TV, Radio 4, Premier, regional BBC Radio stations and has been giving talks on how Coot Club and The Big Six were filmed on the Norfolk Broads, as she worked on the BBC TV series for nine months.

Swallows and Amazons Forever

 Swallows And Amazons Forever! (Coot Club & The Big Six) SPECIAL EDITION [DVD]

Revelation Films have a digitally restored DVD with an extras package available.

You too can find the locations and sail Swallow

Swallow on the Alde

Swallow, the dinghy used in the 1974 film, will be in Cumbria in 2023. For opportunities to sail her yourself please click here

Swallows & Amazons tours of the Lake District can be booked for groups by request with Mountain Goat in Windermere. To read about this do go to: ‘In Search of our old Film Locations’. For booking details please click here.

Cruise on the Tern that was featured in Swallows and Amazons(1974) with Windermere Lake Cruises

The Lakeside and Havethwaite Steam Railway bookings here

To go out in The Lady Derwentwater, used as Captain Flint’s houseboat in 1974 ~ contact the Keswick Launch Company. Contact details can also be found here.

The MINT Chinese Film Festival is being held at the Alhambra Cinema in Keswick from 3rd to 5th February 2023.

The National Trust offer a ‘Swallows and Amazons’ cruise with the Steam Yacht Gondola

Glenridding Sailing Centre are running Swallows and Amazons Adventure Days on Ullswater in the summer holidays.

To stay at Holly Howe ~ contact Jonathan Batty at Bank Ground Farm

To stay at Arthur Ransome’s house in the Lake District ~ contact the Sykes at Hill Top

The Elterwater Hostel welcomes Arthur Ransome enthusiasts

Virginia McKenna stayed at the Langdale Chase Hotel where the Wrap Party for ‘Swallows and Amazons'(1974) was held

Information on visiting Peel Island can be found here

Take a Swallows and Amazons cruise on the Coniston Launch

Hire a canoe or boat from Coniston Boating Center

Why not have lunch at the Bluebird Cafe on the shores of Coniston Water

Visit the John Ruskin Museum in Coniston

The website VisitCumbria.com has a ‘Swallows and Amazons’ page with activities listed.

For specialist books about the Lake District ~ click here

For news of the Arthur Ransome Trust‘s big project ~ click here

To find out more about The Arthur Ransome Society ~ click here

For information on All Things Ransome and an app on how to find all the locations~ click here

Literary Rambles suggest other walks here

You can  sail the  The Nancy Blackett ~ Arthur Ransome’s yacht featured in We didn’t Mean to Go to Sea and Secret Water, currently on the Orwell.

Sophie Neville aboard the Nancy Blackett at Buckler's Hard

If it’s raining, here is a recipe for Bun loaf

Swallows & Amazons flags drawn by Sophie Neville

StudioCanal now have a Blu-ray of ‘Hirondelle et Amazones’ – Swallows and Amazons’ in French. There are also DVDs in Czech.


Illustrated talk by Sophie Neville  for The Arthur Ransome Society’s Literary Weekend

Sophie Neville speaking at The Arthur Ransome Society
Sophie Neville – now and then – in ‘Swallows and Amazons’ playing Titty Walker

‘Swallows & Amazons’ (1974) was screened in Papua New Guinea, at the Art Deco festival in New Zealand, Zeffirelli’s cinema in Cumbria and by Kids’ Whirled Cinema in south London.

Swallows & Amazons (1974) was featured on CBBC TV’s Cinemaniacs now on BBC I-player.


An audience of 250 came to see the restored screen version of Swallows & Amazons in Kendal. To read more please click here. The Blu-Ray version for cinemas was premiered by PictureHouse cinemas in London.

Screenings of ‘Swallows & Amazons’ (1974) at the Riverside Cinema in Woodbridge in aid of the Nancy Blackett Trust attracted big audiences.

Nancy Blackett was featured in the film Ginger and Rosa. Click here to watch the clip.

Mike Zeller of BBC Radio Cumbria asked: ‘Did you take part in the film in 1973?’  If you did – please add a comment below!

Swallows & Amazons TV billing 2014

Sophie was asked to unveil a plaque commemorating Arthur Ransome at Rugby School, where he was at Whitelaw House as a pupil from 1897-1901.

Nancy Blackett with Sophie Neville and the crew at the RLYC
Nancy Blackett and her crew at the RLYC

Sophie has given talks on ‘Filming the BBC adaptations of ‘Coot Club’ and ‘The Big Six’ in Norfolk’ for the Nancy Blackett Trust at the Royal Harwich Yacht Club and for The Arthur Ransome Society.

Sophie Neville aboard the Nancy Blackett at Buckler’s Hard

40th Anniversary talk on Filming ‘Swallows & Amazons’ for The Arthur Ransome Society 

Swallow, the dinghy who starred in the 1974 movie of 'Swallows & Amazons'

Swallowthe dinghy from the 1974 film,  being sailed by members of Sail Ransome .


‘Swallows And Amazons’ 40th Anniversary Special Edition

When Dulwich Film at the Michael Croft Theatre, screened ‘Swallows & Amazons’, the film was introduced by Sophie Neville who was joined by Suzanna Hamilton and Sten Grendon. It was shown on the big screen at the Barbican in London by Grapevine Movies , at the Purbeck Film Festival, the Greenwich Picture Gallery and (click here for quite a funny photo) on the shores of Coniston Water

Swallows & Amazons was broadcast on CT1, Czech TV . This is the 1976 version:

It was re-released in 2011  when voices were  dubbed with those of local Czech stars.

Sophie Neville and Suzanna Hamilton were interviewed by Ben Fogel above Coniston Water about being in the movie, on Country Tracks for BBC TV.

The Arthur Ransome Trust  ~ Movie Memories write-up

BBC Radio 4 ~  John McCarthy sailed Swallow on Radio 4.

Sophie Neville gave an illustrated talk at the Royal Harwich Yacht Club

'Swallows and Amazons Forever!' a talk by Sophie Neville
‘Swallows and Amazons Forever!’ an illustrated talk  by Sophie Neville


Sophie Neville
Sophie Neville with Swallow at the London Boat Show

Sophie Neville with the Swallow

Do write in with any comments or questions ~

Letter from Mate Susan

Sophie Neville accepts no responsibility or liability for any loss or damage suffered by any visitor to any of the properties or attractions listed on this website arising out of any booking or any visit to such properties or attractions.

Use of the content of this website: The content of this website is © Sophie Neville 2011-2013. All rights are reserved. You are permitted to print extracts from this website for your own personal and non-commercial use, provided that Sophieneville.net is identified as the source. Unless otherwise stated, the copyright and other intellectual property rights in all material on this website (including without limitation photographs and graphical images) are owned by Sophie Neville.  Any use of extracts from this website for any purpose other than as set out above is prohibited without written permission.

‘Swallows and Amazons’ (1974) screened on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer in 2020

‘Swallows and Amazons'(1974) has been dubbed into a number of different languages.

104 thoughts on “Swallows & Amazons”

  1. Hi Sophie,
    Thank you so much for your diary entries and comments on the filming back in ’73. Despite being a classmate of Zanna’s at Pimlico, I didn’t read or see Swallows and Amazons until my youngest daughter had it read to her while in hospital approx 7 years ago. Since then we have stayed a couple of times at Bank Ground, including a memorable occasion when the Northern TARS helped to organise for Anna to sail to “Wildcat Island” and be attacked by Pirates (who were later made to walk the plank).
    Have you managed to get hold of the Countryfile programme you were after a copy of? If not, let me know and I will put out some feelers.

    Thanks again.
    Best Regards

    Chris Holmes

    1. Dear Chris,

      Thank you so much for writing in.

      I would love to see a copy of the 2003 Countryfile documentary. I have been asking around but no one seems to have a copy. I have put clips of my father’s 16mm footage on Youtube but it was much better when edited properly into our interview.

      Do let me know of any questions your family might have about the filming and I will do my best to answer them. My diary is about to reach the days when we were filming with Ronald Fraser who played Uncle Jim. We loved making him walk the plank.

      I am so glad you are enjoying the posts,


  2. Hi Sophie
    A big thanks for all the stuff you have put on on S&A. Most interesting for us S&A buffs. I recently bought the film for my 2 and 5 year olds and it has finally got my kids interested in sailing my dinghy with me! 🙂 By the way, don’t tell anyone, but you were the best child actor in that film 😉
    Now, I’m hoping you can help because noone else seems to know – Last year, there was a bit of stuff released about the making of the new S&A film which I believe you were going to work on, but it then all went quite. Can you please give us an update. Is it still happening, and if so when will it start filming!?

    1. Dear Paul,

      I have posted what I know about the new film on https://sophieneville.net/swallows-and-amazons/
      …scroll down a d bit to ‘Recent News’
      I gather they are hoping to start filming in the Lake District in May and June this year ~ although it could be September and October depending on all sorts of factors. They have been advised to avoid filming in the school summer holidays as Cumbria gets so busy in the holiday season.
      We are hoping they will want to use ‘Swallow’ who is already in the Lake District. She is still varnished wood, as in the 1974 film, although in one of ArthurRansome’s illustrations it looks as if her hull was painted white.

      Do let me know if your children have any questions about the making of the film.

      Thank you for your kind words!


  3. Considering the amount of money the BBC have I would have thought they’d have been only too happy to provide you with a free copy from their archives, especially since without you, that programme would have been impossible!

  4. Hi Sophie,
    I stumbled across your blog while surfing one late night, and stayed up _very_ late reading about your adventures during the filming of Swallows and Amazons. When it came out I was thinking about university and temporarily ‘too old’ for S&A. Now I’ve finally seen the film, thanks to Amazon, overseas shipping, and some tinkering with my DVD player to play a British disk here in the US. Thank you for writing this.

    I read the entire canon of Arthur Ransome to my elder child, more for my own enjoyment than his, and now I’m about to start all over again with my younger one. Learning to sail is still on my bucket list.

    1. We did have adventures! Thankyou so much for taking the time to comment. You must let me know if you or your children have any questions about making the film. I also worked on the BBC version of ‘Coot Club’ and ‘The Big Six’.
      There is an American version of the DVD available on Amazon.com – although they seem rather expensive.
      Coot Club is very faithful to the book and stars Julian Fellows as the baddy ~ http://www.amazon.com/Swallows-Amazons-Coot-Colin-Baker/dp/B0009WIEJ8/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1343887305&sr=8-7&keywords=Dvd+%27Swallows+and+Amazons%27
      The Big Six ~ http://www.amazon.com/Swallows-Amazons-The-Big-Six/dp/B0009WIEAC/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1343887402&sr=8-4&keywords=Dvd+%27Swallows+and+Amazons%27

      The Arthur Ransome Society has a US & Canada site on Facebook – very nice people.

  5. hi sophie, i’m a massive swallows and amazons fan, i’ve spent the whole holiday raft making, swimming and fishing in lakes and rivers and building tents in my room and boaring everyone to death of all my swallows and amazons talk, espacially my step sister who shares a room with me part time and a year older than me (12). i have a few questions to ask you, if thats ok, but here they are: one, what was it like filming with kit and lesley, as you mostley say what filming with suzanna is like? two do you happen to know anything about a new swallows and amazons film, because i’ve herd something about a new film, and i was wondering if you new anything about it. three whats it like, being able to bring to life one of the best books ever?
    Please answer soon, from Bethany aka Nancy Blackett

    1. 1. It was always great when the six of us were all filming together – just like being in the books. We were quite a team.
      2. Yes, I know a bit about the new film. Harbour Pictures are hoping to start filming in the Lake District next May.
      3. It was wonderful, great fun but quite hard work with long days and quite a bit of hanging around. I wish that I had been provided with costumes that were a bit warmer as I was often too chilly to fully enjoy myself. I am very glad we had the opportunity to be in ‘Swallows and Amazons’. It was quite the best sort of film to be involved with.

  6. it’s me again, bethany, who’s your favourite character, when you first read it, who did you relate to most, your favourite character with the best personality, in your opinion, answer soon, from Bethany

    1. I think that somewhere in the Blog – perhaps near the beginning, you will discover the secret.
      Which Blog post – or day that I’ve written about – do you like best?

      1. To Sophie, one of my favourite blogs is the one about going to blackpool for the day, i found it tells the reader about the things that you do, besides filming. I also liked the posts about the swimming, and how cold it was. I might have to do what you did, just start swimming when we go on holiday to france. I hope my questions aren’t bothering you, or annoying you, Which ones do you think are best? From Bethany

        1. It is great to recieve your questions and comments. I like them all. If I hadn’t been serializing the diary I wouldn’t have written about our days off from filming – but thanks to feedback from you and others I can see that it is of interest. I am going to write about another day off next. Which You-tube clip do you like best?

          Have you seen the You-tube trailers we have made for my books?
          Here is one made up of the sketches and artwork I worked on in Africa ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77KCJtpzpfk&feature=plcp
          This is the one about a diary I kept when I was ill at home ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPRTwceQj-A&feature=plcp

          Have you seen the DVDs of ‘Coot Club’ and ‘The Big Six?’

          1. I’ve not seen your dvd’s yet, but I’m trying to get them, the youtube trailers are good, I’m not sure I have a favourite. I thing I’m going to go and buy the book now, if I can find enough money :), I’m looking forward to reading about your other day’s off 🙂

            1. I think you can read the first sections of my books for free on the Amazon sites. Do you have a Kindle App? The books aren’t too expensive in that format and the pictures are in colour. Otherwise, let me have your postal address and I can send you a copy to review on Amazon.co. You’ll have to ask your parents’ permission first. So far I have only had one 11-year-old reviewer. She told me that I needed to make it into a shorter book consisting of animal stories with colour pictures. We have done just that. I’m just waiting for it to come back from the printers.

              1. No, I, unfortunately don’t have the kindle app. My parents said yes, so heres my postal address: ox28 4aj. why don’t children now-a-days like, or even have heard of Swallows and Amazons??

  7. Many of the children I know have seen the film of ‘Swallows and Amaozns’ and have read the Arthur Ransome books, but then I live on the south coast where there are many keen sailors. How many of your friends or fellow classmates have read ‘Swallows and Amazons’? Perhaps you coiuld do a survey.

    I tell you what. If you go to this link on Amazon, (below) you can read a bit of ‘Funnily Enough’. If you like it and would like to read more, let me know, and I can send you a review copy of the new 30 page version when it arrives – if it is still OK with your parents.

    1. no one in my class has even heard of swallows and amazons, ever so annoying, as i can’t talk about it properly to my friends. still ok with m parents.

    1. i first watched swallows and amazons in film club at school, and I was completley hooked, i got all the books out of the library and read them till i knew it word to word (almost). my fav characters are titty, and the amazons.

      1. Really interesting to hear you first saw the movie at Film Club at school. Can you remember when that was? I have just added clips of the movie as it was shown on Czech TV in July. Quite fun. You’ll now find it on this ‘Swallows and Amazons’ page near the top.

        I have just added a page explaining what we did on our day off. What was exciting is that I think I have finally worked out why Arthur Ransome called Rio, Rio on the chart. Not just because of the song. What do you think?

        One site you might find interesting is ‘All Things Ransome’.

        1. We watched it in the last term of school, we were doing a book club, and the theme was water, and swallows and amazons was the only film they could think was suitable and interesting. (as normally the film is the same theme as the book club) I totally agree. your new post is extremally interesting, and very good, was it just you and the amazons, because the pictures only have you and the amazons. Nice picture by the way. i agree with you about why Arthur Ransome called the town Rio. ps I found the book, the bit I read, very good, i would definatley like to read it, and recomend it to others.

  8. Perhaps I ought to make it clearer. We split up into two groups that afternoon. If you read the diary you can see that Suzanna went Fell walking with the boys while I joined Kit and Lesley in Ambleside – and watched the festival.

    I’ve been trying to find the first mention of Rio in the book. The earliest mention of the name I can find is at the end of chapter 7 when they are already putting names on the chart. Can you find a mention of Rio before then?

    I am glad you like the book sample. Will it reach you if I just put Bethany and then a post code? Does your house have a name or a number? Or do you live in a tent?

    1. thanks for making it clearer about every one going off in two groups. i don’t have the book swallows and amazons with me at the moment, but if i find anything, i will tell you. unfortuatly I don’t live in a tent, but the house number is 14, name of the road is the springs.

  9. I lived in a tent for six months once. When I got home I found it was difficult getting used to sleeping inside on a bed.

    We lived in tents in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, but they were large ones with iron beds. They got a bit hot during the day. Even the Swallows found that on Wil Cat Island. I had a real problem one night. An elephant pushed down an 80-foot palm tree to get at the palm nuts. It fell right beside my tent. I woke to hear creaking and dived under the iron bed. Three foot the other way and it would have come straight through the canvas.

    1. I’d love to live in a tent for 6 months running. Luck you didn’t get hit by that falling tree. was that in africa?

  10. I’ve found that in chapter three of swallows and amazons, on page 33, it mentions Rio, after Rio Grande. Hope it helps 🙂

  11. thank you so much for sending me your book. it was extremley good. I have left a review thing on amazon. Thanks again for sending it to me. my comment is left on my dad’s account, sorry it took this long to reply, i’ve been in france all week.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the book. Thank you for awarding it five stars on Amazon. I hope you had a good time in France and that your school term starts well.

      I will keep writing Arthur Ransome posts and look forward to your comments.

      With best wishes,


  12. Thankyou Sophie for the fascinating behind the scenes stories and information particularly the pictures on the making of the Swallows and Amazons film.It has been a pleasure to follow all your posts over the past few months and must have involved a lot of work.Arthur Ransome and all his Swallows and Amazons books have been my best friends since childhood and I still read them. I have always liked the film and I think it would be hard to make anything better. Swallows and Amazons Forever (Really Coot Club and The Big Six) was as close to the books as you could ever get and brilliantly done the DVD is well worth watching every now and then even for somebody like me just the wrong side of fifty!
    Thanks again for sharing all your memories.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to write – it is a great encouragement. I must press on and finish the tale. Do you have any questions? Someone wrote to say that they were fascinated to hear what we did on our days off. I was amazed and interested as I would not have bothered to write about these if I hadn’t held to the theme of posting the actual diary. Do let me know what sections you were most interested in.

  13. Hello Sophie!
    I’ve been enjoying your blog for months now from America (oh I wish our DVD players played region two formatting!) and I’ve loved checking to see the latest installment. Thank you so much for going to all the effort of scanning and photographing! I love looking at all the photos. It’s somehow made the Lakes feel closer. =)

    I’m wondering about the new Swallows and Amazons film. I read that the plan was to make Swallows and Amazons more popular and have it be along the lines the next Harry Potter. I also read (on one of the official pages, I think) that there were ideas floating around to update things slightly. I was shocked! That sort of thing lends itself to being “Disney-fied” as friends of mine have put it. It would be very sad to see Swallows and Amazons become a commercial icon. The first thing I thought of when I read about the new film plans was how horrified I’d feel if I found a light-up, barbecued billygoats saying plastic Captain Nancy figurine in a McDonald’s Happy Meal! I’d love it if the film kept as close to the books as possible. Is there any way I can communicate this to those in charge of it, or keep updated on its progress?

    -Deirdre in California

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It is good to receive feedback – I really appreciate it. You must let me have any questions. You may have some if you watch the DVD. I’m not 100% sure but you should be able to watch a UK format DVD on your computer. They are available quite cheaply from Amazon.co.uk. See if you can find one of their distributers who promise free worldwide postage.

      I know that Nick Barton who is hoping to produce the new adaptation next summer would welcome constructive comments. I know he wants to use the original locations and loves clinker built boats. You can e-mail or write to him http://www.harbourpictures.com/contact.html

      1. Thanks, that’s just what I was looking for! I went poking around in my computer’s settings and it looks like I’ll be able to change the format for DVDs.

  14. Sophie
    I do so agree with Deidre about the danger of “Disneyfication”. The S & A series to me are a snapshot of 1930s Britain, and should remain so.

    You are right about playing UK DVDs on a computer. Some software players to make you choose which region you are in and let you have 5 goes – but there are others that don’t (VLC media player is a good one.)

    Thanks again for your background to the film and related matters.


  15. Do you think it important that ‘Swallows and Amazons’ is set in 1929?
    If so, why?
    I do. It would mean that John would probably have been a 22 year-old Naval Officer by 1939. What would Nancy have been doing in WWII?! However, Ransome wrote it as a book of the present time and the other books are set with in the next three years.

    1. I’d like to see S&A left as a period piece, with minimal changes. However, it occurred to me when I watched S&A and the Coot-club series in quick succession, that there isn’t a huge amount of interaction with the ‘outside world’ in Swallows and Amazons, and once you get used to the clothing, it doesn’t seem that much of a period piece. The same would probably go for many of the other books. However, the Norfolk broads stories have lots of interaction with locals and action in the village settings, and it definitely looks like a historical drama the whole time. That might put off some viewers.

    2. Sophie
      Very important! As I said, it’s a snapshot of Britain at a particular time. AR’s depiction of that time is on the one hand so accurate and on the other, as Richard comments, the wider world hardly ever intrudes on the stories. AR was too good a writer to mess about with in such a way!

  16. You can only do that few times, then it will lock forever (really forever!) on one format.
    However I am informed that if you install a free viewer called VLC, this will allow viewing of US region DVDs on PCs set up for the UK region without having to do the previously mentioned change. Hopefully it should also work the other way round.

  17. Dear Sophie,
    Swallows and Amazons is one of my favourite childhood films. So today, as it was cloudy I thought my Mum and I would watch it. My favourite character has always been Titty, and I used to pretend that I was her and ask my brother to play Roger. I am 12 this year and still would like to go on an adventure like that. After watching the film my Mum asked who played Titty and wanted to know about you, so we typed in your name and it came up with this website. So we thought what a coincidence that it was the 40th anniversary of the filming of Swallows and Amazons.

    With kind regards, Alice

    1. Dear Alice,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I was 12 years old when I played Titty, although I tried to act as if I was nine, as that is her age in the book.

      What is amazing is that 40 years ago today, on 8th June, we filmed the scene when the Swallows nearly hit the Native Steamer, the MV Tern. My father was on board in 1929 costume. He was an experienced sailor himself and could foresee that we would lose our wind in the lea of the larger vessel. He was very worried that we would really collide. In the end the steamer’s bow-wave pushed us away but it was a dnagerous moment and we were all pretty scared.

      I hope you enjoy reading the Posts. Do add comments on other pages if you have any questions.



  18. If you are a member of TARS, you could come over to the Southern TARS’ camp at Cobnor near Chichester this weekend. And combine it with an Amazon shopping trip. You know it makes sense (if you aren’t a member, you could join 1:^*>))

    Best regards


  19. Hi Sophie,
    We had a lady visit our school scouting for the new ‘Swallows and Amazons’ film, and I was among three that were shortlisted. I would be very interested to know about the process of auditions for the original film, and any tips you could pass on! I read ‘Swallows and Amazons’ when I was younger, and I have sailed quite a bit. What sort of things did you enjoy most, taking part in the film?
    Thanks in advance!

  20. Hi Sophie,
    We had a lady visit our school scouting for the new ‘Swallows and Amazons’ film, and I was among three that were shortlisted. I would be very interested to know about the process of auditions for the original film, and any tips you could pass on! I read ‘Swallows and Amazons’ when I was younger, and I have sailed quite a bit. What sort of things did you enjoy most when you were taking part in the film?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Congratulations! Do let me know how it goes. You should find the answers to your questions in my paperback, ‘The Making of Swallows & Amazons’. It is more comprehensive than the ebook, although you can see the first section of this for free on amazon.co.uk. Alternatively you can read the earlier articles posted on this blog about how we auditioned for Swallows & amazons in 1973 and how I then cast the children for ‘Coot Club & The Big Six’ in 1983 – which was very different. Lovely to hear from you.

      1. How do I get to audition for the new Swallows and Amazons film? I am a very experienced actress but also love kayaking, raft building and swimming, in fact anything you can do outdoors.

    1. The new digitally restored version released on DVD by Studio Canal and available on Amazon is really worth getting, especially since it comes with an extras package about the locations and how the film was made. Have you seen a copy?

  21. Hi Sophie

    I greatly enjoyed the ebbok version of ” The secrets of filming Swallows and Amazons ” .
    Thankyou so much for this wonderful book !
    Have you got any more information on the new film ?


    1. So glad you enjoyed the ebook! Would you do me the honour of adding a comment on the Amazon site? It would be hugely appreciated.

      I know they are currently casting for the new film adaptation – as you can see from the comments on this site. Nick is hoping to start filming this spring, which is exciting.

  22. Hi Sophie ,

    I have a few questions I’d like to ask you , some of which you might find a bit strange .
    Was the day for night filming for the night scenes really completely in the day or were they at dusk ?
    From some of the previous comments I understand that you slept for six month in a tent in Botswana . Was that in a game reserve , and if so , which ? I’d love to live in a tent for so long ! When you were filming , did you sleep , or stay at least stay for a bit on your own on wild cat island ?
    Lastly , which book in the ‘S&A’ series do you think would be the next best to film make ?
    After having read 5 , I’d say Pigeon Post .
    I hope you don’t mind my questions .

    Thanksin advance


    1. It is great to have your questions, do keep them coming.

      Day for Night filming required bright sunlight and clear skies to work well back in 1973. In June it doesn’t start to get dark in the Lake District until about 9.00pm or later. We were meant to finish filming at 5.00pm by law!
      I once spent 6 months driving down through Africa from London to Johannesburg and slept in a small tent almost every night. Sadly I was never really alone on Wild Cat Island. The film crew were all there with me. I would have loved to have camp there but it is against the rules of the Lake District National Park.
      If you add it up, I must have spent more than 6 months living in a tent in Botswana, but a larger safari one. This was when I worked on the Horse Safaris as a guide, training up the grooms in the western Okavango, which is a wilderness area rather than a game reserve.
      I think Peter Duck or Missee Lee would make great movies as they are so exotic. Pigeon Post would make a good television drama serial. Which book do you think would go well with it?

  23. Unfortunately , I have only been able to read Swallows and Amazons ,
    Swallowdale , Peter Duck , Winter holiday , and Pigeon post , but I think I know where to get the others from .
    You are right , I’d say that Pigeon Post would make a good television drama serial , along whith another , maybe Winter Holiday .
    But I do think finding a suitable location , namely a frozen lake would be challenging . I haveread in your book about the filming of the television series ‘Coot Club ‘ and ‘the Big Six’ , but do you think you could tell me
    more about these ?
    After reading Peter Duck , I’ve been wondering if it’sreally a ´book in a book ‘ , do you know if it is ?

    It’s quite amazing that you drove from London to Jo’burg .
    Were you in a team , or sponsered by someone ?
    Will you ever become a horse safari guide again ? It would be nice !

    Thanks .

    1. You can read more about making the TV serial ‘Coot Club’ earlier on this blog – search for ‘Coot Club’ and you should find a number of posts.

      I could write about our expedition, when 32 of us were sponsored to drive through Africa. I made a film about it. I’ll see if I can put it on Youtube. And yes! I’ll organise another sponsored ride for Jan/Feb 2016.
      Yes, ‘Peter Duck’ could be described as a book within a book , since Ransome envisaged his characters thinking it all up and illustrating it. Perhaps ‘Missee Lee’ was the same.

  24. Hi

    please tell me what you know about finding the right boats for The Teasel and The Titmouse as I have just read Coot Club .
    I d love to see Coot Club and The Big Six and I m sure you could tell me much about them . I also love James Herriot and the telivision series All Creatures Great And Small .
    I know that Claude Watham and the same composer as in Swallows and
    Amazons both had a part in the film All Creatures Great And Small , but please tell me if others also had a part in the movie or the television series .
    I can ‘ t wait to see Coot Club and The Big Six and to read the others Artur Ransome books !


    1. Are you a member of TARS? I am giving an illustrated talk on how we made the series at their IAGM in Suffolk this May. You’ll have to contact Classic TV Press and ask them to publish the book I have written on how the series was made!

    2. Answers in three parts.
      James Herriot: I met him and his wife in 1982 when I worked on ‘Russell Harty’. He was very suave and good looking – with that knack vets have of becoming unobtainable. She was sweet and very approachable. https://sophieneville.net/about/

      The Movie: You’ll see in this post that I went up to Yorkshire to watch Claude film ‘All Creatures Great and Small’, finding Ronnnie Cogan working on the set. It was thrilling to meet Simon Ward, who I thought brilliant in the part. His daughter Sophie later played my younger sister in a film. https://sophieneville.net/2013/03/30/a-screening-of-swallows-amazons-on-21st-april-and-other-dates/

      The TV Series: Many of the Actors and crew of ‘Coot Club’ worked on the TV series including John Woodvine :

  25. Hi Sophie ,

    I ve just read ‘ We Didn’t Mean To Go To Sea ‘ . I like it very much . But I ve also got Secret Water , which I am busy reading .
    I am unfortunately not a member of TARS .
    My Father has asked why the Nancy Blackett trust was named after Nancy , as she is not THE principle caracter of the story ? I can t quite answer him .

    Do you have any thing particular to say about Secret Water ?
    Thanks for your previous answer .


  26. Hi Sophie!
    Just wanted to say how much I have been enjoying your blog on S & A! I was 9 in 1974 and saw the film about 4 times that summer ( I think it was shown with Born free as a double feature)and I had a huge crush on Lesley Bennett! (Where is she now?) I read all the books several times over during the 70’s . Reading your memories made me re-read the book and watch the film for the first time since the 70’s and I have to say the film holds up very well! My only criticism was that the end was very rushed, could of done with an extra 10 minutes to round it out? I have just ordered your book on the filming and I am looking forward to reading it!
    Best Wishes
    Richard Meads
    West Sussex

    1. Thanks so much for writing. I’m going to have to put a blog post together on people’s memories of watching the film back in 1974. Do you have a copy of the restored 40th Anniversary DVD – it is such an improvement on the old VHS copies. StudioCanal also produced a cinema Blu-ray, which we have been screening around the country to audiences of up to 250. Hopefully the ending will propel families to go camping and sailing themselves.

      Do let me know how you enjoy the book on how we struggled to make the movie all those years ago!

      1. Hi Sophie!
        The copy I have is the old version so I will get a copy of the new dvd. I seem to remember having a souvenir programme from the cinema?(They did that quite a lot in those days) and also a soundtrack LP record ! If I ever find them I will send them to you…but they might have been victims of clear-outs/divorce/house moves etc so I can’t promise !!!! Book has not turned up yet…..
        Best Wishes

          1. Hi Sophie!
            Book arrived and I almost read it all in one sitting! Very well written and also brought back memories of life in the 70’s! I hope the book is a great success for you, It is unusual for a films production to be that well documented, more people need to write diaries! Me included!

    2. Sorry, you asked where Lesley is now. I believe she married and lives in the Netherlands. I am longing for her to contact me but have drawn a blank. Sadly the people who live at her address of 1974 can’t help.

  27. Sophie
    Sorry if I have put this in the wrong place.
    Regarding the news reports on the 25th June about changing the name of ‘Titty’ to ‘Tatty’ in the new BBC Swallows and Amazons film – some of them are stating that you approve of the change. Is that so?
    Two things occur to me about it, if the name is regarded to be one to be ‘sniggered’ at (Christine Langan of BBC films is being quoted explaining that this is the reason for the change) then what are they doing about ‘Roger’ and ‘Nancy’ (far more rude,) and of course if they ever get around to filming Winter Holiday then what of ‘Dick’?
    I cannot imagine that the resulting film is going to appeal much to the type of audience that is going to ‘snigger’ at such words, if they keep away all the better for those who want to see it for what it is.

    1. A debate of national proportions is whipping up. Everyone has very strong views. Are you a member of The Arthur Ransome Group on Facebook? There is quite a selection there. More on The Nancy Blackett page – and my own! The Guardian are publishing mine in the letters page tomorrow. I. Didn’t write them a letter, they asked for a quote, which the Editor asked if she could add to the letters page.

      I have worn the name with pride.It is rather nice that I can keep it.

      1. Thanks for your response – do I take you have been miss-quoted, or do I need to wait for Saturday’s Guardian?

        1. My letter is in the Guardian
          there are more in the Times:

          Pity about Titty

          SIR – I am disappointed at the BBC’s decision in Swallows and Amazons to change the name Titty to Tatty. Tatty was not even the nickname for any of the original Altounyan children. Titty’s older sister was called Taqui.
          Jib booms and bobstays!
          Hilary Weston
          Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire

          SIR – Can we now expect a change of name for Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and no further mention of lake Titicaca in documentaries on Peru?
          Robert Parker
          Rainton, Somerset

          SIR – I once met Titty at an Arthur Ransome Society event. She was very pleasant and had no problem with being known as the youngest girl in Swallows and Amazons, with the nickname of Titty.
          Stephen Bennett
          Skelmersdale, Lancashire

          1. Hi Sophie ,
            It’s me again.
            Just a few questions :
            How old were you?
            The scenes of you sailing back from the amazon river at night look very much like night scenes . How did you film them in daylight ?The beam of the torch can be seen like in real darkness .
            Did you use any members of the filming crew as leople in Rio where real actors are not needed? Did you find the cast for ” the big six ” ? I still have not seen it. I will soon have finished the whole “Swallows and Amazons ” series. Are you still in South Africa? Thankful so much for your website.

            1. Dear Kemuel,

              I have just returned from riding in Georgia – once part of the Soviet Union. My apologies for not getting back to you sooner.

              I was twelve and a half years old when we made ‘Swallows & Amazons’ in 1973.
              We shot some of the night scenes using a ‘Day for Night’ filter over the camera lens. The scene of John, Susan and roger sailing home in the pitch dark was shot in Mrs Batty’s barn at Bank Ground Farm one rainy day, with the dinghy on a cradle to make it look as if it was on water. The moon-light came from a lamp. The scenes of Titty in Amazon and alone at the camp were also shot there. They made a real camp fire in the barn which was ‘blacked-out’ with black drapes.

              Our third assistant, Gareth Tandy, had his hair cut and wore 1929 costume for the Rio scenes so that he could direct the extras while appearing in shot. He can be seen playing tennis in the distance with my father. I’m pretty sure that he and one of the prop men played the burglars rowing to Cormorant Island and lugging the heavy chest out of the boat. That was filmed with ‘Day for Night’ filters on Derwentwater.

              I cast all the actors under the age of eighteen for ‘Coot Club’ and ‘The Big Six’, which is now available on DVD – make sure you get the new re-mastered version. I wonder if you can order it from a library in South Africa?

              So glad you have been enjoying all the books in the series. You could have fun writing reviews on Arthur Ransome’s Amazon site!

              Good to hear from you again,


  28. I started reading series way back in fifties. Unfortunately can’t find anywhere where can buy DVD of original series for Australia, region 4. I would like to find one to get my 2 young grand-daughters interested. Any clues please. Len Eaton

    1. Ah! ‘Swallows & Amazons’ (1974) has just been broadcast in Australia on GEM9. In Sydney? Are you a member of The Arthur Ransome Society in Australia. There seem to be quite a few members in Melbourne. You could ask them. Otherwise do contact StudioCanal direct as they made a remastered DVD and BluRay in their Vintage Classics series for the 40th Anniversary. It is available online. Otherwise you could request a screening from your local TV station.

  29. Hi Sophie,

    Terrific website and story. Wondering how many days you shot in total? And what was (roughly) the size of the crew?


      1. Thank you for your reply Sophie, and swift! I read the available chapter, it seems you were scheduled for a 46 day shoot but my guess is that that number was an ungenerous prediction? Looking at photos you have uploaded to youtube I have seen many photos of the crew and its relative size. Kindest, Martin.

  30. There is some wonderful stuff here, Sophie, both in the main page and in the Comments, thank you. I would never have thought there would be a Swallows & Amazons fan-base in Papua New Guinea. And from now on I shall think of you as Sophie Nevilleova!

  31. Having just found this avenue of discussion, I have been enthralled to read so many wonderful comments and questions. I feel privileged to have grown up in the 1970’s and enjoyed films such as Swallows and Amazons as a child and again now as an adult. It truly has stood the test of time. It evokes such wonderful memories of my misspent youth, growing up on an island as I have, climbing and exploring and having such fabulous adventures. Thank you for the ‘behind the lens’ views that you have shared, truly a wonderful age to have lived in!

      1. I live on the Island of Portland, on the Dorset coast. Technically it is a peninsula, but we always say island as we have the sea all around us and a bridge at the end of the causeway connecting us to the mainland. I know it’s more ‘Enid Blyton’ country, but we can enjoy those adventures too, between the pages!

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