Tuesday 21 January 2014, 12:20
Grandpa in my Pocket is back with a brand new series from Monday 27th January (weekdays at 5.25pm) – so we had a chat with the show’s co-creator, writer and producer, Mellie Buse, to find out what’s new in Sunnysands…
Hi Mellie! Can you tell us a bit about what your job on Grandpa in my Pocket involves?
I'm the co creator, writer and producer of the series and have worked on it with my colleague Jan Page since we came up with the idea about ten years ago and set up our company Adastra Creative. Jan and I work together developing and writing all the stories, casting, setting up the production and running the show when we're shooting. It's a big mountain to climb but a very rewarding one.
What can we expect from the new series of Grandpa – have there been any changes in Sunnysands since we were last there?
The Mason Family have moved house and we think that our family audience will be thrilled with their new home - The Mill on the Marsh, which they run as a little hotel. It's set on the marshes outside Sunnysands with a river running through the meadow. You can see Sunnysands in the distance and they now have a river boat called Queenie as well as their trusted old camper van, Campo. Grandpa lives there with them, of course, and Great Aunt Loretta has moved into a converted pigsty next door. Perfect! There are hotel guests coming and going which offers us great opportunity for storylines but, most importantly, two new children have been introduced. Yes, Elsie and Josh, Grandpa's other grandchildren have come to stay at The Mill for the whole summer –where they discover that they have a Grandpa made of magic!
Why did you decide to bring in the new characters?
The two children from the previous three series, Jason and Jemima, have of course grown up but we do need kids of around 8 or 9 to front the stories because our young audience can really relate to them. We also saw it as an opportunity to reveal the secret of the magic shrinking cap to two kids, as opposed to just the one. We saw hundreds of children for the roles until we finally found Harvey Thorn and Sezen Djouma and there was an instant rapport between them. The fact that the family now lives in a little hotel also allows us to wheel in a cast of wonderfully eccentric, comic guests. And there are two new Sunnysands regulars – a lovely young Australian called Bob, who has a fantastic boat called The Boomerang moored in the harbour, and the totally bonkers Mr Yomper Stomper –a rambler who is very keen on nature but very easily distracted.
Will Jason still be in the series at all?
Oh yes. Absolutely. But he's now fourteen and has a life of his own with school and football and friends. so he's only too happy to introduce his little cousins to Grandpa's magic skills – and they're delighted to help Grandpa with his problem solving adventures. Jemima is away at college now but pops home from time to time. These two are fantastic role models for our audience and children who were brought up on the original series will delight in seeing them all grown up in this one.
Any special moments we should look out for?
We've always been lucky to attract some really wonderful actors to the show who have embraced the "larger" acting style that we need which really speaks to our audience. This time you can look out for Emilia Fox who plays the visiting astronomer, Olga Orbit - a far cry from Silent Witness! We've also got the wonderful Sam Kelly who many will remember from ‘Allo ‘Allo. He is playing Cheery Charlie Cheekster, an old variety performer who comes back to Sunnysands full of songs and memories. Then we have Joanna David whom many will recognise for her many roles in TV costume dramas including Downton Abbey. She is Poorly Pansy Petunia, a guest at The Mill who thinks she's very poorly, but isn't really. You might also spot Kenny Ireland of Benidorm fame as Hamish McHorder from over the Border and the wonderful Lizzie Roper as Wendy Waffle. All our regulars are also there –with the exception of Mr Liker Biker who had gone off on a round the world bike ride while we were filming!
What have you most enjoyed about working on Grandpa?
Seeing a project all the way through has been a real delight for Jan and me. Working with actors like James Bolam and Susan Jameson has been a great privilege and we're thrilled to have been able to bring this kind of quality performance to a young audience. But the most rewarding thing of all is the amazing reaction we get from kids and their families. It's great to feel that this is a show that everyone can sit down and watch together. We're so pleased that a two year old is as caught up in it as an eighty two year old. There's something in it for everyone. We were blessed with a fantastic production crew in Cardiff which made the whole production process a real pleasure. The happy atmosphere on set, we think, is reflected in the end result and we hope it'll bring a lot of pleasure to families for some time to come. It was "Teamwork!"