Exclusive interview with animated alien adventures Q Pootle 5 creator Nick Butterworth

I had the pleasure of meeting Nick Butterworth at the Toy Fair 2014 in London. His name might not be too well know but his animated alien adventures Q Pootle 5 shown on Cbeebies is very popular as well as the books. Nick is a very creative illustrator and storyteller. Here is what he had to say about his series.


Q: What was your inspiration for the TV series?

The series was inspired by my two picture books about the little alien, Q Pootle 5, but it was my son, Ben (the producer of the series) who persuaded me to leave the safety of my drawing board and enter the unknown world of animation!


Q: Do you think the series appeals more to boys than girls? And why?

We wanted to create a series that appealed to both boys and girls and from the feedback we’re getting it seems we have managed to achieve this as both boys and girls really love the show.

Q: What are the challenges of producing a CBeebies series?

First of all you have to have an idea that you think is worth putting on CBeebies. Then you need the BBC to agree with you! Following this you have to enlist help from a large number of talented people to work with you because animation involves many different abilities and skills – script writers, voice artists, musicians, sound engineers and, of course animators. Oh and there’s the small matter of paying for it all. It costs an awful lot!


Q: How did you get the idea for all the machineries in the series?

I’ve always loved drawing machines, especially the sort that look a bit home made. I like the idea of using something like a hairdryer and, by the magic of imagination, transforming it into a lateral stabilizing jet. Children are especially good at this!

Q: What were your favourite games / toys when you were a child?

I think my Dinky Toys were my favourites. I had quite a collection. I would take the rug in front of the hearth and throw it into the air. It would land in a higgledy-piggledy heap on the floor, making hills and tunnels which were perfect for playing games with toy cars. Of course my favourite thing to do was to draw! I think it still is.


Q: What is your favourite childhood story and why?

It depends at what age. I’ve always loved stories. My mum and my granny read to me all the time. I loved Beatrix Potter stories, especially The Tale of Samuel Whiskers and The Tale of Jeremy Fisher. Later, like so many of my generation it was the Famous Five that got me reading for myself. But it was Treasure Island that really caught my imagination. I felt I had gone on that adventure along with Jim Hawkins, Long John Silver and all the others in that great tale.

Q: If you hadn’t been an author / illustrator / TV producer what would have been your job?

I used to work as a graphic designer and I still enjoy doing graphics when I get the chance. But I think, perhaps, I could have been a joiner. Or an architect. Or maybe a brain surgeon…


Q: If you were Mayor of London for the day what would you do to improve London cultural scene?

I’d hate to be Mayor of London! But how about this? For a day, all on the same day, every school invites a writer, an artist, an actor, a dancer, a singer, a musician – you get the idea – into the school to talk about what they do and why they love it. It might not make everyone want to follow suit, but it might be a real eye-opener to see how much these people enrich our lives.

This coming June 2014 Nick will launch a new range of Q Pootle 5 Puzzles and Games with Jumbo Games including 35-piece puzzle assortments, 4 in 1 Shaped Jigsaw Puzzles, Giant Playing Cards and a Space Race Memory Game; all featuring the best loved characters and scenes from the CBeebies-licensed series, with all products suitable for ages 3+. Watch this space for these products’ reviews later this year!

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