1. How did you get into work as a children's television writer?
I used to watch a BBC kid's show called PLAY AWAY on the BBC that was on every Saturday afternoon. It was very funny, full of sketches and jokes and songs. I sent them some bits and pieces that I'd written and they liked one particular joke so much that they paid me the grand sum of £4 and put it into the next episode. After that I started to provide them with more and more material. Around about the same time I also sent some stories to the Thames TV show, RAINBOW, and I was soon writing for that show, too.
2. Since you have wrote one episode for Thomas & Friends in 2003, how did you get re-involved with the show?
Well I wrote that one single episode of THOMAS way back in the days when they were still using model trains for the animation. They obviously didn't like it (or me) and they never asked me to do any more! Years and years later, after I'd been working for HIT on FIREMAN SAM and several other of their shows, Andrew Brenner became the head writer and I was (finally) asked to do some more. I was a bit hesitant at first (after my first experience) but once I began again I loved it. In fact I've been working on some new stories today.
3. What is the best thing about writing episode stories for Thomas?
It's such a lovely idea and it's still going strong 70 years after the books were first written. The animation has been beautifully done and Andrew has brought a real warmth, some exciting drama, and a lovely sense of humour to the new episodes. I really love working on the show - it's timeless really.
4. I see you have worked with John Hasler, who recently become the new UK voice for Thomas the Tank Engine, how did it all began?
I first met John when he was about eight years old and for the next nine years he starred in my Thames TV series T.Bag (1985 - 1994). He was a charming young boy and a very talented actor. And now he is a charming man (and a still a wonderful actor!) I didn't even realise that he had been in FIREMAN SAM when I was writing it, and I was delighted to discover that he's the new voice of Thomas.
5. What other children's television shows do you work outside of Thomas as the writer?
I've just finished working on THE ANIMATED MR BEAN. I was the head writer on SHAUN THE SHEEP, RASTAMOUSE, and more recently Q POOTLE 5. Live action shows include MIKE & ANGELO, SPATZ, T.BAG and THE TOMORROW PEOPLE.
6. Are you familiar with Thomas before as a kid?
I don't remember reading it when I was a kid. But I was aware of it. And years later I actually met The Reverend Awdry at a book fair.
7. Do you have a favourite episode of Thomas & Friends?
There are so many to choose from! I was just watching one this morning (that Andrew wrote) that I liked very much called 'The Missing Christmas Decorations'.
8. Do you have a favourite character in Thomas & Friends?
I quite like stories featuring The Steamworks so I'm very fond of Victor and Kevin. And having just this week written a story about Sidney I'm getting to like him too. I like all of them really - they're a fun bunch.
Thank you for your time, Lee, and keep up the good work.
All the best,