A Brightons writer’s creation hit prime time kids TV this week with a show based on the stories his great auntie used to tell him as a boy.
Tony Bibby’s ‘Teacup Travels’ is broadcast on the BBC’s CBeebies channel every day starring ‘Harry Potter’ actor Gemma Jones as Great Aunt Lizzie, amidst sets designed by double Oscar winning art director Leslie Dilley - whose credits include ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’.
There are 25 episodes, each 15 minutes long, which focus on stories told by Lizzie to young characters Charlotte (7) and Elliot (9) – named after his own children – played by Evie Brassington and Roderick Gilkison who go on adventures to the likes of Ancient Egypt and Imperial China when they visit her.
Tony’s real great aunt Lizzie was Elizabeth Leatherbarrow, born in Liverpool in 1907. Her sister Margaret had five children, the eldest of whom was Tony’s mum, also Margaret. When they were little, Lizzie would regale the children with fantastical stories that captured a young Tony’s imagination and it’s this bond that inspired him to create ‘Teacup Travels’.
Tony (47) said: “From a creative point of view, the thrill of seeing my work come to life on screen is a reward within itself. My personal connection to Aunt Lizzie’s stories makes me extremely proud of the programme.
“My main hope for the show is that will reinforce the importance of generational storytelling as something that needs to be given value. I hope the educational aspect of the programme inspires young children by creating an interest in history.”
Kay Benbow, acting director of BBC children’s television, said: “This is a first for CBeebies to bring ancient history and archaeology to our young audience. The series combines storytelling with high adventure in a way that will inspire and encourage children to want to learn more about life in ancient times.”