Brand new animated series Dinopaws comes to CBeebies this February with the delightful adventures of a trio of very young, inquisitive dinos. We chatted to the show’s writer Alan Gilbey to find out more about CBeebies’ newest heroes…
Tell us a bit about yourself and your role in Dinopaws:
I’m the developer and lead writer of Dinopaws. I’ve been working in animation for nearly two decades now, and you might know me from some other shows I helped develop like ‘Frankenstein’s Cat’ on CBBC and ‘What’s The Big Idea’, CBeebies’ philosophy series. I live in London with a pet Yeti called Imaginary Friend.
Why a series about dinosaurs for pre-schoolers?
Ask any pre-schooler – and they’ll probably go RARRGGG! Little children love to see big dinosaurs stomping about, maybe because that’s what they’d really like to be. When we started devising the show we did lots of work on why children are so drawn to dinosaurs.
We found that they liked ‘collecting’ them (for instance, you can learn their names and their features), they liked watching them fight (which we can’t do because this is CBeebies, after all!) But most of all, they just liked pretending to be dinosaurs.
It’s a very empowering thing for a very small child to think of themselves as a very big lizard, so our giant lizards came to represent three young children – with all their quirks and flaws. Their adventures became the adventures of any child going out an exploring a brave new world, full of weirdness and wonder. Like children, Dinopaws Gwen, Bob and Tony are on a journey to find out how their world works and to find their place within it.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters of Gwen, Bob and Tony? Who (or what) inspired them?
The Dinopaws are like a set of siblings from different mothers: an older sister, a middle child and a baby brother. They’re the kind of family many of us grew up in. There’s a lot of love and friendship there, but they’re not always on the same page!
Gwen is the oldest and a bit ‘birdy’. When evolution kicks in, she’ll probably turn into a turkey or something like that. She’s a little bit of a bossy boots and loves to say ‘I know, I know, I know!’ and explain things to the others, because she’s the eldest. However she’s often a tiny bit wrong - not that she’ll admit it.
Bob is the biggest and he’s a Stegopawrus, slow of body and ponderous of mind. He thinks BIG thoughts, is the philosopher of the group and (because language is new in Dinopaws world) he loves to invent new words that sum stuff up. He composes little ‘bouncy word parties’ too – which we would call poems.
Tony is a baby T-Rex (the T stands for Tony) and quite simply a force of nature. He’s too young to speak, but has a private language of growls and squeaks which only he seems to understand. Understanding Tony is sometimes hard for the others. He is a bit inexplicable. Tony loves hugging rocks, running around a lot and going ‘NYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!’
Together I think of them as a trio of clowns who find new things, misunderstand them, have funny adventures, fall over a lot, but always discover something new by the end of the episode. Oh, and all the main characters are named after members of my family!
What do you think children will get out of watching Dinopaws?
First off I hope they’ll laugh. Dinopaws isn’t an educational show like ‘What’s The Big Idea?’ Instead it aims to be wise and creative entertainment. And it’s funny. We found that dinosaurs look funny standing on top of each other trying to reach a star, so there’s a lot of dinosaur stacking in our show.
Secondly, I hope we’ll be telling them stories they’ve never heard before. We really wanted this show to be a little bit different, fresh and surprising and memorable.
Finally, we hope Dinopaws will empower and excite children. Really the entire series is a celebration of friendship and of the joys of discovery and exploration. The planet that the Dinopaws live on (which is a bit too magical to be our own Earth) is just waiting for our heroes to discover all its amazing secrets – just as our world awaits our pre-school audience. We hope they’ll work together and have adventures too.
Any favourite scenes or moments from the series?
I’m going with the stacks of Dinopaws – which always have the smallest Dinopaw on the bottom and the heaviest at the top. When I was devising the show I drew a doodle of this on a napkin, and that was the eureka moment, when I really thought ‘THAT’S the show!’ So I like those bits.
Are there any influences that grown-ups should look out for?
Because we wanted the world of the Dinopaws to be very complete and fresh you probably won’t find any pop cultural references or characters based on Simon Cowell! But the verbal humour and sometimes eccentric logic of our heroes has echoes of some of my own inspirations. You might spot traces of the Goon Show and Winnie the Pooh.
Which of the Dinopaws do you most identify with?
Dinopaws starts on CBeebies from Monday 17th February 2014, at 7.45am.
Go to the Dinopaws webpage on CBeebies