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article imageTree Fu Tom: children’s ‘promoting movement’ serial returns

By Mathew Wace Peck     Oct 30, 2013 in Entertainment
A television programme that was devised to help young children who suffer from developmental coordination disorder (or DCD) has returned for another set of episodes.
Treetopolis - Aimed at children aged between two and six years old, the series returned yesterday afternoon on one of the BBC’s children’s channels, CBeebies.
Tree Fu Tom is created by Tom when he casts a magical spell. Entering the miniature magical countryside and village world of Treetopolis, “viewers join him on a series of adventures alongside the sprites, bugs and naughty fungi, known as Mushas, who inhabit this world. Alongside his faithful sidekick Twigs, Tom must harness the spectacular power of Tree Fu and, with the assistance of the audience at home, create Big World Magic to help his friends avert disaster and overcome the epic challenges of the magical and natural world.”
Largely realised using the latest in CGI (computer-generated imagery) technology, Tree Fu Tom was developed in conjunction with the Dyspraxia Foundation (DF), with the aim of promoting movement in young children.
The two main characters are voiced by two former stars of Doctor Who: Sophie Aldred as Tom and Broadchurch actor David Tennant as his Acorn Sprite friend, Twigs. At the beginning and end of each episode, Tom is acted in live action – before he magically transforms into the world of Treetopolis – by one of Aldred’s own children, Adam Henderson.
Tree Who Tom
Prior to Tree Fu Tom, Aldred was best known for playing Ace, the companion to the Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy), in Doctor Who in the late 1980s. Tennant, of course, played a successor to McCoy’s Doctor – the Tenth Doctor – from 2005 to 2010; a part he is to return to later next month, when he appears alongside Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor in the television and cinema feature Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor.
At the launch of Tree Fu Tom, Cbeebies Controller Kay Benbow enthused that it “an incredibly exciting new project and quite unlike anything we’ve done before”.
According to official statistics, five per cent of children have DCD, and the movements promoted in Tree Fu Tom – which were developed by DF specialists Sally Payne and Dr Lydia Foulder-Hughes – are similar to those used by occupational therapists to help child development.
“The physical actions have all been devised and approved by movement-development specialists,” Benbow told, adding that they are “designed to help all children – but particularly those with Dyspraxia. It is hoped that by regularly practising some of these simple movements, we can actively assist in the development of all children, teaching them valuable movement skills at a crucial time in their lives.”
Grubble Fungus Berry
Other characters in the series include: Puffy and Stink, who are naughty brother and sister funghi; an elderly spider named Rickety McGlum; a beautiful but rough butterfly called Ariela; the leader of Treetopolis, Treetog the Tree Spirit; Squirmtum, a pill woodlouse; and a tree frog called ’Zigzooreen. Voices for all these characters are provided by Tim Whitnall, Samanthan Dakin, Sharon D. Clarke and Aldred, again.
Episodes include the wittily titled “Fungus Among Us”, “May the Best Berry Win”, “Grubble Trouble” and “Hide and Squeak”.
Tree Fu Tom is a co-production between the BBC and FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME). It was created and is produced by Daniel Bays and executive-produced by Jackie Edwards (BBC), Alison Stewart (BBC) and Sander Schwartz and Bob Higgins (FME). The CGI animation is provided by BAFTA-award-winning Blue Zoo Animation.
Tree Fu Tom continues on Tuesdays at 4.30 p.m. on CBeebies in the UK; and is also shown at other times on PBS Kids Sprout and NBC Kids in the US.
More about Tree Fu Tom, Tree Fu Tom, David tennant, David tennant, Sophie aldred
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