The Famous Five: Is Timmy The Dog a Real Dog? Is He CGI?

Charting the adventures of the young, inquisitive Barnard cousins over the course of one summer holiday together, ‘The Famous Five’ transports the viewers to an exciting world full of many mysteries to undertake. George Barnard, the only daughter to her eclectic parents, finds herself sharing her summer with cousins Dick, Anne, and Julian. Although the young girl is at first unenthused at the prospect, she quickly realizes the upsides of teamwork when she encounters a grand mystery. Consequently, putting their heads together, the Barnard cousins dive headfirst into every quest that the summer days throw their way. In their misadventures, the young kids are accompanied by a curious pawed pal, Timmy, the dog, who becomes their mystery-solving gang’s fifth member. Therefore, Timmy’s presence in the show brings up the natural question of the behind-the-scenes information about the dog.

Kip: The Bearded Collie Behind Timmy the Dog

Fans of the friendly canine amidst The Barnard cousins’ midst in ‘The Famous Five’ will be pleased to know that Timmy, the dog’s character, was a role fulfilled by a real-life dog, Kip. Thus, rather than a CGI-ed end result, the show employs an actual dog actor for the role. As such, Kip, the Bearded Collie, remains a crucial member of the show’s cast alongside his human co-stars, Diaana Babnicova, Kit Rakuse, Flora Jacoby Richardson, and Elliott Rose. Timmy becomes an early addition to the narrative after George runs into the dog in an abandoned boat outside of her family island.

Consequently, Kip sees his on-screen introduction to the show in the pilot episode and maintains a constant presence throughout the story. While this show presents a debut for Kip in the world of feature-length shows, the dog easily charmed his castmates on the set. Rosie Ison, Kip’s on-set dog handler and trainer, helped the bearded collie achieve the same by working with him during his shoot days.

Jack Gleeson, who portrays the antagonistic role of Thomas Wentworth— the central villain in the show’s first two episodes— spoke about Kip’s presence on the set and said, “It’s been amazing working with the children and the dog.” While conversing with BBC, the actor further added, “Timmy [Kip] the dog, he’s just the sweetest dog ever, he’s like a therapy dog for everybody. He comes on set, and everyone rushes over and starts petting him, and it just soothes the atmosphere— it’s brilliant.”

Consequently, it remains evident that Kip’s physical addition to the set improved the overall production. By choosing to include a real-life dog in the cast, the show ensures that the interpersonal chemistry between the central characters and Timmy comes across as authentic on the screen. Furthermore, Kip’s addition to the show’s marketing as the fifth member of the Barnard cousins’ amateur detectives crew adds a sense of whimsy to the project that affirms its ties to the source material.

Additionally, with ‘The Famous Five,’ Nicolas Winding Refn— the show’s creator— found the perfect opportunity to dismiss the widespread principle that children and animals are best left out of the set when it comes to TV. Discussing the same in a conversation with The Guardian, he said, “The naturalness, spontaneity, and just loving every day, loving to go to work – you don’t get a lot of actors like that. Having four kids and a dog is a best-case scenario!”

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