Roald Dahl series on Netflix: What books are coming and who is legendary author behind them?

Netflix's Roald Dahl golden ticket
Netflix has landed the golden ticket with a deal to turn Roald Dahl books into original series and specials. Pic credit: Netflix

A slate of books by legendary kids author Roald Dahl will be turned into Netflix originals.

Dahl was a prolific writer who penned classics such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant peach among many beloved children’s tales.

The characters of Willy Wonka and the Oompa-Loompas are part of Dahl’s legacy. More Dahl tales will also be turned into series and specials by Netflix as it was revealed that The BFG, Matilda, The Twits, and other characters will also be fleshed out.

In a groundbreaking collaboration, Netflix and The Roald Dahl Story Company will bring these classic stories to life with a new slate of original animated event series, based on the books from Dahl.

Who was Roald Dahl?

This elusive British author was born in Wales to Norwegian immigrants who settled there. His stories have long inspired award-winning feature films and stage productions. But who was he behind the scenes?

Dahl is a complex study. He endured tragic events and over time was scrutinized for some of his various writings which veered to the darker edges of children’s literature. Many of his characters are unlikely protagonists who suffer some sort of terrible setback. He also penned books for adults.

The author served in the RAF during World War II and was known as a fighter pilot with extraordinary accomplishments. He crashed in Libya in 1940 and suffered some injuries including temporary blindness.

According to his biographer, Donald Sturrock who penned Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl for Simon & Schuster, after Dahl returned to Britain, he was appointed as an assistant air attaché at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. — a post which he was on record as not enjoying because so much misery continued back in Europe while America seemed too detached for his tastes.

Personal tragedies for Dahl

Dahl married American actress Patricia Neal in 1953 in New York City. They were married 30 years and they had five children. His children were Olivia Twenty, Chantal Sophia also known as “Tessa”, Sophie Dahl (who formed the basis for the Sophie in Dahl’s The BFG), Theo Matthew, Ophelia Magdalena and Lucy Neal.

Roald’s sister Astri died when she was age seven. More tragic events for Dahl happened later, beginning in 1960 when his four-month-old son Theo Dahl was permanently injured when his baby carriage was struck by a taxicab in New York City, causing hydrocephalus and brain damage.

This event inspired Dahl to work with hydraulic engineer Stanley Wade, and London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital neurosurgeon Kenneth Till to create the “Wade-Dahl-Till” (or WDT) valve, a device to alleviate the pressure. The valve helped thousands of children.

Then in November 1962, Dahl’s seven-year-old daughter Olivia passed away from measles encephalitis. Her death made Dahl a fierce proponent of immunization and dedicated his book The BFG to his daughter. It was reported that he became disenchanted with Christianity at this point in his life.

Then his wife Patricia endured three burst cerebral aneurysms while pregnant with their fifth child, Lucy, in 1965. They later divorced in 1983. Dahl married Felicity Crosland the same year and they were married up until his death in 1990.

Roald Dahl died on 23 November 1990, at the age of 74 of myelodysplastic syndrome, a form of blood cancer, in Oxford, and was laid to rest in Buckinghamshire.

Did Dahl work in television?

Yes. In 1961, Dahl wrote and hosted a science fiction and horror television anthology series called Way Out, which preceded the Twilight Zone series on CBS network for 14 episodes.

The series was shot in New York City. He also wrote the BBC comedy program, That Was the Week That Was, hosted by David Frost.

Is there a museum for Dahl?

Yes. In Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire. Great Missenden is a village in English countryside, about 20 miles northwest of London.

The Netflix production deal in detail:

Netflix will produce a slate of premium animated event series and specials for audiences of all ages and for families. The streaming giant vows to “remain faithful to the quintessential spirit and tone of Dahl while also building out an imaginative story universe that expands far beyond the pages of the books themselves”.

In a press statement, Dahl’s widow Felicity Dahl said:

“Our mission, which is purposefully lofty, is for as many children as possible around the world to experience the unique magic and positive message of Roald Dahl’s stories. This partnership with Netflix marks a significant move toward making that possible and is an incredibly exciting new chapter for the Roald Dahl Story Company. Roald would, I know, be thrilled.”

Netflix VP Melissa Cobb said:

“Immersing ourselves in the extraordinary worlds of Roald Dahl stories has been an honor and a massive amount of fun, and we are grateful for the trust the Roald Dahl Story Company and the Dahl family have placed in our team to deliver more moments of shared joy to families around the world. We have great creative ambition to reimagine the journeys of so many treasured Dahl characters in fresh, contemporary ways with the highest quality animation and production values.”

The list of titles coming includes Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG, The Twits, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, George’s Marvellous Medicine, Boy – Tales of Childhood, Going Solo, The Enormous Crocodile, The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, Henry Sugar, Billy and the Minpins, The Magic Finger, Esio Trot, Dirty Beasts, and Rhyme Stew.

Production for the first Dahl animated series begins in 2019. Stay tuned!

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