Russell said he made the film "to prove a point and enjoy myself at the same time. For it is my contention that most of the literary classics we see on television are generally too long, too slow, too samey, too costly and just too, too twee."
He wanted to make a literary adaptation that was low budget and done with a small crew. He pitched the idea to Channel Four who were enthusiastic. Russell put forward 12 titles and they selected Treasure Island because it could be programmed as a Christmas movie.
Russell adored the novel as a boy and made a film of it while young. This version was made for Channel Four. He wrote "My aim is to tell the story from Jim's point of view, which is where I begin to part company with the novel, which splits much of the narrative equally between Jim and Dr Livesey - a senior member of the expedition. To my way of thinking, this is one of the major flaws in the book and I feel I'm doing Robert Louis a favour in rectifying it. "
He made a number of other changes including altering Long John Silver into a woman and making Jim more of a "scamp".
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