Jamie Rix – a Grizzly Tale for Gruesome Creatives
Delyth Thomas listens in on a gruesome tale……
The first time I read one of Jamie’s The Revenge Files of Alistair Fury books, I laughed so hard I missed my tube stop, and judging by the laughter in the cinema this morning during the clips we saw, I’m in good company.
Jamie has a distinguished career producing TV comedy (My Hero, Faith in the Future, Not Going Out). Also a prolific author of children’s books, around 10 years ago he decided to put his writing and TV careers together. It’s very unusual that an original IP holder publishes the books first, then takes the material though to pitch/write and produce the end product on television. He believes in writing the book first for 2 reasons – security of intellectual property, and creative integrity.
It all started with the cautionary tale, Struwelpeter, that he was given as a child to attempt to wean him off sucking his thumb. Those images of the scissor-wielding, thumb-chopping figure were the inspiration for his modern cautionary horror stories, Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids which then became an animated series for ITV/Nickelodeon. Fabulously grizzly on the page, translating the stories to the screen brought up some tricky compliance problems – blood not so good, skewering children from brain to toe with a 5ft syringe – even less so, and cutting skulls off and eating brains – absolutely no go, animation notwithstanding.
Discrepancy of book to screen also led to a confusion in product branding as the TV had to be aged down, therefore made a less scary and as a consequence, the book and the series have never been marketed together.
Creatively the opposite was true of the Casanova books – aged down for publication, on screen he was able to age up the series to be truer to his original intent. And sooooo funny as a consequence. Sadly, despite a huge amount of interest in the pilot, it proved too difficult to get it on the screen as it doesn’t fit neatly into a traditional broadcast area (‘too old for kids’), so the many scripts he’s written are gathering dust on a shelf. (Any commissioners out there, it’s hilarious….so please check out the pilot on: http://www.jamierix.j-host.co.uk).
So to The Revenge Files of Alistair Fury – his Bafta winning series for CBBC. A rude, anarchic comedy featuring the 12 year old Alistair, youngest child in an almost neglectful dysfunctional family, the books were a challenge to translate to the screen in this risk-averse culture as comedy can be as difficult to get past compliance as horror. He felt it important to make the series a live action show – kids love to watch kids, so for the more extreme ‘revenge’ fantasy moments he used a mixture of live action and animation to great effect. Sadly not re-commissioned as a live action series it’s currently being developed as an animation – as Jamie says ‘never give up on a good idea’.
His most recent book called The Incredible Luck of Alfie Pluck, is currently being developed as a feature film, so any funders out there…..