At LWAT we’re always thrilled and surprised when someone exciting agrees to talk to us and this time it’s a true legend of preschool literature – Nick Butterworth. Speaking about his CBeebies series “Q Pootle 5“, here’s the exclusive Nick Butterworth/LWAT Q&A:
Thank you so much for talking to London With a Toddler. I tried pumping the 5-year-old for insightful questions but we drew a blank. I assume the answer to “What is Q Pootle 5’s real name?” is “Q Pootle 5”. Anyway, here goes…
It sounds like Q Pootle 5 was a long time in the making – how did it feel to finally see your creation onscreen?
It was brilliant – and it still feels great to see it out there. To know that the series has been seen by millions of people is amazing! It took quite a long time to produce, but as things gradually took shape, each stage along the way was very exciting.
You have some brilliant voice talent on the show. Was it a lot of fun recording with them?
Yes it was. Each of the actors brought something of themselves to their characters. It has meant that we have strong characters with subtlety and credibility. The voices were recorded ensemble, and we really got the benefit of some great chemistry between the characters, especially Q Pootle 5 and Oopsy. It also lead to a lot of unscripted fun and games going on in the recording booth. Ed Gaughan, who voices Q Pootle 5, also does stand-up comedy. And Joanna Page, who is Oopsy, has the most infectious giggle in the galaxy!
Who would be on your wish-list for a guest appearance?
I’m tempted to say Peppa Pig! But if we keep it human, probably Peter Kay. Maybe Jo Brand could play Planet Janet . . .
Is “Dave” a reference to “2001: A Space Odyssey?” – I’ve heard that all your friends called Dave think it’s based on them!
I came up with the idea of Planet Dave in 2001 when I was writing the second Q Pootle 5 book, Q Pootle 5 in Space. It wasn’t inspired by the 2001: A Space Odyssey film. It just amused me as the name for a (rather large) friend of Q Pootle 5 and Oopsy who comes to their aid when they’re in a tight spot.
It could be that, subconsciously, I used that name because I have several friends called Dave, so maybe they’re all right to believe they were responsible! In the last few years, the name has become ubiquitous. The ‘Dave’ TV channel (named that in 2007) has maybe had something to do with that.
What’s happening next on Q Pootle 5? How do you top a visit from Santa?
Ah, that would be telling . . ! But whatever Q Pootle 5 and his friends get up to, the same spirit that prevails on Okidoki will be there.
You said in the DVD extras that Okidoki looks a little like California – is that an area
that’s close to your heart?
It was more the terrain and climate that we had in mind, but I do like California. I first went there in 1968 when I travelled 7000 miles around America by Greyhound bus. I have great memories from that time and from several visits since.
Who’s your favourite creation so far?
Oh, you can’t ask that! It almost like asking which of someone’s children is their favourite!
I believe you’re an East Londoner originally. What would be your top tip for toddlers in East London?
Not really. I was born, to Lancashire parents, in North London (Kingsbury) and we moved to Romford when I was two. Since then I have lived in several places, including St Albans, Southampton, Mid Suffolk and North Essex.
Although it has been a long time since I have lived in London there are some fantastic things to do. My top tip for toddlers in East London would be to Visit the Discover Children’s Story Centre in Stratford. It’s a great place for children. There are story sessions, wonderful walk-through installations (the current one is a fantastic celebration of Oliver Jeffers children’s books) as well as dramatic productions bringing books to life in a really inventive way. (Currently they have a production of my first Percy the Park Keeper story, One Snowy Night, which runs until Christmas Eve, I believe!)
Finally, Snapper Productions sounds like a bit of a family firm. How do you find working with your wife and son? How do you separate home life and work life?
Annette and I have been best friends and business partners for . . . ever! For us to work with Ben has been really satisfying. We get on very well – we have individual strengths and areas where our abilities overlap. We listen to each other and expect our opinions and input to be valued. It’s good to work with people you love and respect.
It’s true the line between work and home life can be rather blurred but that doesn’t seem to matter much as we really enjoy what we’re doing. On top of that, we have great friends and plenty of family who are not involved in our business. They’re the perfect antidote to the sort of ‘tunnel vision’ that results from focusing too much on work.
Credit: Nick Butterworth is the multi-million selling, award-winning author and illustrator of Q Pootle 5, the Percy The Park Keeper series, Tiger, Albert Le Blanc and The Whisperer. Q Pootle 5 Christmas Special: Pootle All The Way will air on CBeebies at 16.45 on Thursday 18 December.