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Room on the Broom

Room on the Broom

This was a project I took creative director and producer role for Macmillan Childrens books, who approached Pat & Pals – the children’s publishing company I had helped found with Ross Sleight and Jacqui & Colin Hawkins.

Macmillan were keen to explore a multimedia version of the original best-selling title written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

This was pre-iOS and Mac Appstore days, so the idea was to create a desktop download, which would be available for purchase via – which in turn was powered by Macrovision’s DRM system (now part of Rovi group I believe.)

Armed only with the original source material, an audio recording voiced by the comedienne, Josie Lawrence and some of Julia’s own musical compositions, we set to work.

Room on the Broom

Creatively I wanted to make sure we didn’t mess with the book too much. It was important that we struck a balance between the multimedia ‘effects’ and the simple purity of the illustration.

In addition, due to the gentle lilt of the storytelling, it was important to reflect this rhythm in any animations we created.

The delightful animation and clever flash programming was created by the team at TWP – who I would heartily recommend on any childrens-related interactive work.

Will Richards, now founder of Moon, was Art Director. Tobias Sturt, now Design Manager at the Guardian’s Digital Agency, was also on board for thinking and writing help.

I’m very proud of the finished work – which is sadly no longer available for purchase and download. Largely due, I suspect, to the appearance of the TV version over Xmas 2012*.

The final product featured all sorts of lovely things – the animated storybook, some fun flash-based games – ‘Broomstick Dash’ and ‘Dodge the Dragon’ (thanks to Atari’s ‘Defender’ and ‘Pac Man’ respectively), a drag-and-drop ‘Story Maker’ for kids to create their own Room on the Broom adventures; and some thoughtful printouts – a theatre, a board and card games. Thanks to Tobias for working hard on those!

I’m not able to put up the application it self – but I’ve included some relevant grabs in this post, which you can view larger like if you click the thumbnails.

Macmillan also featured the final product as a CD-ROM on a reprint of the title.

*An odd bit of family serendipity. My sister, Sally, voiced the green bird in the TV version!

‘…the witch tapped her broomstick, and WHOOSH! They were gone.’

Room on the Broom

Room on the Broom


FightBox - Kodiak

‘FightBox’ was a cross-platform TV show I exec-produced broadcast on BBC2 and BBC3 and part funded by BBC Worldwide. It was a creative collaboration with TV production company, Ricochet (now part of the Shed Group).

‘FightBox’ was an original idea, which combined PC gaming, Internet, TV and Augmented Reality.

Using a trailer broadcast some months ahead of the recording, viewers were encouraged to go onto the BBC FightBox website and download their ‘FightKit.

Once downloaded, a player could construct a virtual warrior and take it into a series of combat training exercises to generate a score which they could upload back to the BBC.

The top 100 players would then qualify for the TV Finals across 20 shows, within a specially constructed FightBox arena at BBC Centre, filmed in front of a live studio audience. The players would compete against each other in a number of contests while also fending off the Sentients, a group of ‘Gladiators’ style super warriors.

The eventual winner of the tournament would then have the honour of their warrior joining the order of the Sentients.

BBC Worldwide invested in the show format, producing the games engine which would then form the basis for commercial products – the PC, PS2 and Nintendo DS games.

Working closely with my co-exec, Nick Southgate at Ricochet, I oversaw the concept  and product development, characters and technology from early drawings through to the final recorded shows and then finally into the edit room.

FightBox was broadcast on BBC2 and later on BBC3.