Tree Fu Tom, the first pre-schoolers role for David Tennant.
David Tennant talks about his first-ever pre-schooler's role in ABC4Kids animated series, Tree Fu Tom.
Aimed at pre-school children between the ages of three to six, the series is set in the magical world of Treetopolis and follows the adventures of an ordinary eight-year old boy Tom (Sophie Aldred) who, when he puts on his belt and performs a special sequence of magic action movements (known as Tree Fu), transforms into a mighty but magical super hero.
Once he has been transported to the wondrous enchanted kingdom of Treetopolis, Tom is joined by his sidekick Twigs (Tennant) an energetic Acorn Sprite.
The show encourages Kids to join in at home with movements used to help children with movement disorders such as dyspraxia. The Tree Fu Tom Movement Curriculum has been developed by occupational therapist and physiotherapy experts affiliated with the Dyspraxia Foundation in the UK.
Why did you decide to take the role?
DT: Animation is a fascinating area from an acting point of view because it’s not really like anything else because you are only providing a portion of the performance. That’s very inspiring and it forces you to do things in a different way – to tell stories through your voice. As an acting challenge it was very appealing.
I think you always want to tell good stories and when you are doing something for children you are always so aware of how formative those stories will be. I was hugely formed by stories I was told as a child whether that was in a book, the cinema, theatre or television and probably television more than any medium is what influenced me as a child and formed my response to literature, story-telling and, therefore, the world around me.
How did you arrive at Twigs’ voice?
DT: It’s sort of my voice but up an octave really. He’s smaller and lighter so the voice had to be higher. Also there’s a thought that for pre-school audiences you want to use higher registers in your voices. I believe that the young audience hears higher voices better.
How do you gauge your performance for the audience?
DT: I feel very un-practiced in performing to an audience this young so I am very happy to be led by other people working on the show. Like getting the level of jeopardy right, what is enough to be exciting but not too much to be alarming. When you’re older you want to be scared because you understand more where the boundaries between fantasy and reality are and I suppose they aremore blurred the younger you are. It’s fascinating to work with people who completely understand that audience. I’ve really enjoyed trying to understand that world.
I don’t think I have ever done anything for this age of children before, a pre-school audience. Generally speaking we don’t have vivid memories of that age and what influenced us yet clearly they are hugely formative years and it’s really important that we can create television of a high quality for that audience.
Tree Fu Tom airs weekdays at 8.30am on ABC4Kids.