Tree Fu Tom
Sophie Aldred and David Tennant voice new CBeebies series
Sophie Aldred plays Tom
Tree Fu Tom is a truly interactive programme because it is designed to help children get up off the sofa and physically move which is a very important part of children’s development."Sophie Aldred
Could you tell us about the show and what it’s about?
Tree Fu Tom is about an ordinary boy called Tom who has a tree at the bottom of his garden which is a magical tree. It’s actually a kingdom called Treetopolis. Tom also has magic powers and he uses these powers to help right wrongs and sort things out, and everything’s always alright in the end.
Can you tell us a bit more about Tom?
Tom is honest, reliable and fun. He absolutely loves his friend Twigs and they have a great time together. Tom is quite a sensible boy but sometimes he gets himself into scrapes and he needs his friends to help him.
Could you tell us a bit more about the magic… how does it work?
Tree Fu is a way of doing magic spells. There are some spells that Tom can do on his own and then there’s Big World Magic, which needs help from the audience. The audience are invited to get up and do the moves with him and then at the end of the spell the audience has to send the magic to Tom through the TV screen.
It sounds like a very interactive show?
Tree Fu Tom is a truly interactive programme because it is designed to help children get up off the sofa and physically move which is a very important part of children’s development.
Were you aware of Dyspraxia before taking the part?
I’d heard the word Dyspraxia before I took the role and I assumed that Dyspraxia was pretty much the same as Dyslexia, but it’s not. It is a physical problem that children have where they aren’t able to perform certain movements and functions. I’m fascinated by the subject now and it’s really informed a lot of my thinking.
What is your favourite thing about Tom?
My favourite thing about Tom is that he’s not annoyingly heroic all the time. He doesn’t know the answer to all the problems. He’s strong and resourceful but he has to ask for help sometimes.
How much of you is in Tom?
There’s not much of me although I was a real tomboy when I was younger. The character is very much based on my eldest son actually. He is 11 and I really thought about him a lot when I was playing the character.
Being a parent, how does that feed into your approach to the character?
I think I know a little bit about what children want to see in the character. Humour is such an important thing for children I think. And the show has a lot of humour in it. The story is also very important to children and I know as a parent you have to hold children’s attention and I think this show does that really well.
And you don’t just voice Tom do you?
I also play the character of Puffy. She thinks she’s the most beautiful elegant, sophisticated mushroom but she’s not. She’s rather lumpy and large!
Can you tell me what it’s like being in the booth with the other actors?
It’s quite funny because we all have a different style. I tend to stand quite still (at least I think I do!) because I’m trying to get this performance into my voice. And then David tends to move around all the time, so his arms and legs are going and I have to keep ducking out of his way!
What did you enjoy watching as a child?
When I was a child, there wasn’t much children’s TV but of course I remember all those fantastic shows like The Magic Roundabout and my favourite show of all was Blue Peter. I always wanted to be a Blue Peter presenter when I grew up!
As a former companion of Doctor Who, what’s it like having the tenth Doctor as your sidekick?
I had previously played a character called Ace who was Doctor Who’s companion and now some years later I’ve got a Doctor Who as my companion! It’s been really great working with David and we have shared a couple of Doctor Who stories!
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