When you’re four you have all kinds of idols. They’re usually cartoon-like and have magical powers, or possibly pig-shaped with a strong desire to jump in muddy puddles. However, if you read here at all, or even check in at Mum Friendly you’ll know that of late there are two characters who’ve made quite an impression on my little H; Topsy and Tim.
We were invited to visit the film set last week where H got to meet Topsy & Tim and was suitably starstruck. We got to wander around the set, sit at their kitchen table (in the new house) and H got to cuddle Little Moon Bunny and Eddy Teddy. She was in a surreal world – that of a film set, not a real house, but it looks real.
H sat in Topsy’s bedroom while the crew stood outside and I scrambled to take a photo. They were filming a scene which had mum, Topsy, Tim and Kerry in and we got to meet them all. Mum (Anna Acton) is lovely – we got to chat (and I forgot to take a photo of her and H), she’s a mum too, and you can tell – I really like how she talks to the kids in the show – when H isn’t playing up I swear I hear myself talking like that!
Walking around the film set it was kind of weird (in a good way); all the places the cameras live and what goes on behind the walls of the house, the attention to detail within the house, pictures on the wall cleverly photoshopped to add to that detail, but it was their house. It’s sad to think it’ll all be coming down soon when they finish filming all 60 episodes.
When we met the actors behind Topsy & Tim H was starstruck. She’s often quite shy, but this time she barely said a word – there with her idols in the same room. So I talked instead.. and talked and talked. Both kids were lovely with H – they’re both 8, so a little older than their screen age (4!) – ‘Topsy’ gave H a big hug and we got a photo, and ‘Tim’ gave her a high-five – with ‘Kerry’ joining in too. We went upstairs with them when they went on a break which resulted in them hiding in cupboards – the kind of things kids do – it was all so normal, but yet H didn’t come out of her shell. I guess I know where she’s coming from – there have been plenty of bands at work who’ve visited that I’ve been too shy to try talking to, so I can relate to how she felt.
A big mention must go to Billy Macqueen who approached me with the offer of a visit. What a brilliant thing to do, and he was great – showing us around the studio as well as allowing us to sit and watch a scene being filmed. They did the first take (which was around four minutes of acting, they’re all really good!) then some different angles (and continuity issues which meant it took a bit longer) before some final close-ups, before it was time to head back to the Darrall Macqueen offices and make our way back home again. We also met Maddy Darrall (the co-owner with Billy) whose baby was the inspiration for Baby Jake – the story behind that is interesting!
As for us, the visit was possibly one of the best things H has experienced in her life. She’s still talking about it and tells me how important and precious the time there was to her. She truly loves Topsy and Tim – she’s been brought up with the books and the tv series is very faithful to their spirit. As I’ve said before, it’s a soap opera for a four-year old – one time you’re guaranteed they’ll switch off from everything else around them and enter the Odell family’s life – often because it mirrors parts of their own.
Topsy and Tim’s first 15 episodes of Series 1 have been shown on Cbeebies now, and we’re on repeats until the new year when more new episodes will be shown – they can now be followed on Facebook and Twitter as well, to keep up to date with news – they’re really good at updates as well! The episode we saw being filmed is due to air around August 2014 – everything is being filmed now in one massive block and is set to finish in a week or so for good.
I found it interesting how well their routines work around acting – there’s only a small window to get scenes done so they have to do a lot, which is why it all takes so long. Scenes without the children are filmed later on when they’re being schooled or are having breaks, but Darrall Macqueen have been brilliant making sure they meet the tough regulations.
It has been nearly a week since our visit and H is still talking about it. She took pictures into school where some of her classmates asked her questions about it, and she wrote a little piece about it (I saw Topsy and Tim, they did some acting) and showed her photos. She’s an extremely lucky girl – Shaun says it’s a bit like if we’d have had a chance to meet the Famous Five back in the seventies, it’s THAT big in H’s world. I know exactly what she means. Thank you again Billy for giving us the chance to visit, it means a huge amount to H and I – I suspect it’s something she’ll never forget!