Topsy and Tim: Interview with Executive Producer

Friday 8 November 2013, 14:54

 Catherine Catherine Producer, CBeebies Grown-ups

BLOG, MADDY DARRALL – TOPSY AND TIM, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER FOR DARRALL MACQUEEN
Can you tell us about the series?
Topsy and Tim is a live-action drama series inspired by the wonderful series of books that many people will remember from their childhoods. It brings to life the tales of Topsy and Tim, 5 year old twins, who experience all the usual joys and challenges of family life.
What’s your role on the production?
My official title on the show is Executive Producer for Darrall Macqueen – Darrall Macqueen is the independent production company making this series for CBeebies. My work on Topsy and Tim began about 12 months ago when I worked out the creative direction of the show – story, scripts, set, casting - with CBeebies and with our Series Producer, Fiona Robinson.  Now that filming is well underway, I do what I call "the churn" - making sure the latest scripts are in best shape, managing any last minute script changes due to cast illness or other unforeseen circumstances. When our lead cast members moved up to a new class in September this year, they asked if they could attend their first day at school. This was supposed to be a filming day so it became my job to re-work some scenes/a script so we could continue filming an episode called Emergency Rescue without Topsy and Tim. When you eventually watch this episode on CBeebies, it includes a lot of back of head Topsy and Tim (their doubles!) so we could shoot a scene where a cat is rescued from a tree minus our two lead stars!  
Why did you decide to adapt T+T for TV?
When my oldest son (who is now 5 and a half) was 3 we stayed in a holiday cottage where we found two old Topsy and Tim books.  I had always loved the stories as a child – and so did my husband – and we watched our son fall in love with them on holiday. When we got home I discovered that you could purchase new additions of all the old classic Topsy and Tim books and we ended up with a mini library of them!  Once I knew CBeebies was looking to make its first drama for under-5's,  Topsy + Tim was top of my list - I knew it could fit the bill perfectly.
The Topsy and Tim books reflect timeless moments in a pre-schooler’s life and their themes still resonate today.  
How similar is it to the books?
The Topsy and Tim books tell tales of new experiences for the twins – but we haven’t directly adapted each of these books or followed the same first experience model for the TV series.  Instead we’ve focused on all the small stuff in Topsy and Tim’s life that is perhaps less of a first experience but more a reflection on the choices, challenges and cheer of genuine family life – like getting a first pet, learning to ride a bike with Mum, meeting a new babysitter.  Each episode covers the small stuff that feels very big for a pre-schooler.  Many of everyone’s favourite characters from the books appear in the TV series – friends such as Kerry, Tony Welch, Rai, Vinda, Andy Anderson, Stevie Dunton - but we’ve given Dad a new job (he now runs his own business – a local transport service for older people) and this brings a fun older friend, Mr Rosen, into the twins' lives on a regular basis.  Plus Grandma and her dog Mossy are brand new characters that felt relevant to this busy, happy modern family unit.
Why is this an important series for CBeebies?
I believe Topsy and Tim is a significant series for CBeebies because it is recognition of the value for pre-schoolers of great storytelling and it is ground breaking that CBeebies have embraced the drama format for children of a young age.  Each episode of Topsy and Tim is a self-contained story about a small moment in family life but also involves a broader emotional journey for the twins - moving house and starting at big school.  We weave these to big dramatic themes across our 60 episodes and hope they will captivate our young viewers.  
Did being a parent effect etc
Being a parent myself, I can see that my (nearly) 4 year old and 5 and a half year old boys were ready for a more immersive viewing experience and I think a British drama series, with children of their own age at its heart, broadcast especially for them on CBeebies, is an absolute daily treat.  How lucky are we all to have CBeebies?!!
Did Jean Adamson have any involvement?
The Topsy + Tim books were lovingly written by Jean Adamson and her late husband Gareth in the 50’s and 60’s – and Jean is still writing new Topsy and Tim books today. We visited Jean at home and she also came to the television studio on two occasions (very exciting for the young cast!).  We have all taken so much inspiration from Jean’s passion for storytelling.  She always puts so much thought into the detail of the Topsy and Tim world and I hope we have made her proud.  
What do you hope children and parents will get from the series? 
I hope children and parents feel positive about family life when they watch Topsy and Tim.  I hope they watch the show every day at 5.30pm together and all want to know what happens next and can’t wait for the next episode - just like the best adult drama series!

 

Grown-ups caught up with Maddy Darrall, Executive Producer of Topsy and Tim. We found out all about the brand new series and what it was like to adapt the very well known stories... 

Can you tell us about the series?
Topsy and Tim is a live-action drama series inspired by the wonderful series of books that many people will remember from their childhoods. It brings to life the tales of Topsy and Tim, 5 year old twins, who experience all the usual joys and challenges of family life.
Topsy and Tim
What’s your role on the production?
My official title on the show is Executive Producer for Darrall Macqueen – Darrall Macqueen is the independent production company making this series for CBeebies. My work on Topsy and Tim began about 12 months ago when I worked out the creative direction of the show – story, scripts, set, casting - with CBeebies and with our Series Producer, Fiona Robinson. Now that filming is well underway, I do what I call "the churn" - making sure the latest scripts are in best shape, managing any last minute script changes due to cast illness or other unforeseen circumstances. When our lead cast members moved up to a new class in September this year, they asked if they could attend their first day at school. This was supposed to be a filming day so it became my job to re-work some scenes/a script so we could continue filming an episode called Emergency Rescue without Topsy and Tim. When you eventually watch this episode on CBeebies, it includes a lot of back of head Topsy and Tim (their doubles!) so we could shoot a scene where a cat is rescued from a tree minus our two lead stars!  

Why did you decide to adapt Topsy amd Tim for TV?
When my oldest son (who is now 5 and a half) was 3 we stayed in a holiday cottage where we found two old Topsy and Tim books.  I had always loved the stories as a child – and so did my husband – and we watched our son fall in love with them on holiday. When we got home I discovered that you could purchase new additions of all the old classic Topsy and Tim books and we ended up with a mini library of them!  Once I knew CBeebies was looking to make its first drama for under-5's,  Topsy + Tim was top of my list - I knew it could fit the bill perfectly.The Topsy and Tim books reflect timeless moments in a pre-schooler’s life and their themes still resonate today.
 
How similar is it to the books?
The Topsy and Tim books tell tales of new experiences for the twins – but we haven’t directly adapted each of these books or followed the same first experience model for the TV series.  Instead we’ve focused on all the small stuff in Topsy and Tim’s life that is perhaps less of a first experience but more a reflection on the choices, challenges and cheer of genuine family life – like getting a first pet, learning to ride a bike with Mum, meeting a new babysitter.  Each episode covers the small stuff that feels very big for a pre-schooler.  Many of everyone’s favourite characters from the books appear in the TV series – friends such as Kerry, Tony Welch, Rai, Vinda, Andy Anderson, Stevie Dunton - but we’ve given Dad a new job (he now runs his own business – a local transport service for older people) and this brings a fun older friend, Mr Rosen, into the twins' lives on a regular basis. Plus Grandma and her dog Mossy are brand new characters that felt relevant to this busy, happy modern family unit.

Why is this an important series for CBeebies?
I believe Topsy and Tim is a significant series for CBeebies because it is recognition of the value for pre-schoolers of great storytelling and it is ground breaking that CBeebies have embraced the drama format for children of a young age. Each episode of Topsy and Tim is a self-contained story about a small moment in family life but also involves a broader emotional journey for the twins - moving house and starting at big school. We weave these to big dramatic themes across our 60 episodes and hope they will captivate our young viewers.  

Did being a parent affect the way you approach the production?
Being a parent myself, I can see that my (nearly) 4 year old and 5 and a half year old boys were ready for a more immersive viewing experience and I think a British drama series, with children of their own age at its heart, broadcast especially for them on CBeebies, is an absolute daily treat. How lucky are we all to have CBeebies?!!
Topsy and Tim
Did Jean Adamson have any involvement?
The Topsy and Tim books were lovingly written by Jean Adamson and her late husband Gareth in the 50’s and 60’s – and Jean is still writing new Topsy and Tim books today. We visited Jean at home and she also came to the television studio on two occasions (very exciting for the young cast!).  We have all taken so much inspiration from Jean’s passion for storytelling.  She always puts so much thought into the detail of the Topsy and Tim world and I hope we have made her proud.  

What do you hope children and parents will get from the series? 
I hope children and parents feel positive about family life when they watch Topsy and Tim.  I hope they watch the show every day at 5.30pm together and all want to know what happens next and can’t wait for the next episode - just like the best adult drama series!

Topsy and Tim starts on Monday 11th November at 5:30pm on CBeebies. 

Comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 1.

    My 4 year old loves this - she asked if she could watch another one as soon as she had watched the first episode. Well made and really engaging and it brings back lovely memories of reading the books as a child - well done BBC!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2.

    My 3 year old son and 5 year old daughter have loved watching this so far. My daughter asks when its due to come on every day. They can especially relate to the repeat mentioning of moving house as we are currently in the process of doing the same thing. This along with woolly and tig are the two best programmes on cbeebies - I even end up watching them!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 3.

    I used to love Topsy and Tim when I was small and I've read the books with my two daughters (aged 3 and 6). So we were really excited to see that these well-loved books were being turned into a TV series. And on the whole you've done a good job in adapting them but what I didn't like, in fact what I was pretty appalled by, was the very first episode in which there is a leak in the roof. I honestly couldn't believe it when Mummy called Daddy home from work to fix the hole in the roof and then went to do the washing. Then Tim was tasked with doing the practical job whilst Topsy went and watched her cuddly toy go round and round in the washing machine. Really?!! The only reason I didn't switch off there and then was because my elder daughter piped up with 'In our house Mummy would have fixed the roof' (no comment on whether Daddy would have done the washing!). Couldn't you have at least shown the parents working together to fix the roof rather than leaving the mother as a rather passive limp rag? Us mothers of daughters are fighting a difficult enough battle as it is everyday against a barrage of TV programming, books and magazines that tell our girls that they must be pretty princesses who like to shop. What message does your programme send to very young girls? That women are incapable of fixing practical problems, doing basic DIY and that they must call a man to do these things? Where is the Tree-fu tom for girls or Mike the knight for girls? I have ended up having to write stories for my 6 year old as we have been unable to find any adventure stories (in the same vein as beastquest etc...)with a girl protagonist - am I going to have to start making my own TV shows as well?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    My 3 yr old daughter and 4 year old son adore this show! I think it reflects family life perfectly - even though Topsie and Tim get on a little too well for my liking!!! We sit down together to watch it each day and my two enjoy talking about each episode and re-enacting bits! Brilliant family show CBeebies...well done!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    My girls aged 3 and almost 5 love catching up with the adventures of Topsy and Tim. They can't wait for the new episode each day. They are looking forward to seeing Topsy and Tim's new house. This is an excellent series that has really caught their attention. We love the books too. Well done Cbeebies

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 6.

    We love Topsy and Tim in our house. My two boys aged 3 and 6 often ask to watch it. What makes it so special is that it's relatable. It's set in a normal house in a normal street with normal people. There are no gimmicks or fantastic situations, just likeable realistic characters and interesting storylines that are relevant to young children. Congratulations to everyone involved in producing the show and to the actors who are all great. We love the theme tune too!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 7.

    Love t&t, but hate "super double wash hands". OCD children in training. A little dirt never hurt my generation and our immunity.

 

Share this page

More Posts

Previous
Topsy and Tim: Author Jean Adamson talks about the new CBeebies series

Tuesday 5 November 2013, 17:21

Next
New game on the CBeebies Playtime App

Monday 11 November 2013, 14:26

About this Blog

All the latest news and piles of helpful information for CBeebies Grown-ups.

Blog Updates

Stay updated with the latest posts from the blog.

Subscribe using:

What are feeds?