Tree Fu Tom

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Tree Fu Tom
Tree-fu-tom.jpeg
Developed by CBeebies In House Production, FremantleMedia Enterprises
Written by Daniel Bays, Douglas Wood, Ian Carney, Moya O'Shea, Darren Jones, Allan Plenderleith, Corey Powell, Richard Preddy, John Loy, Sindy McKay, Richard Dinnick
Directed by Adam Shaw
Starring Adam Henderson
Voices of Sophie Aldred, David Tennant, Tim Whitnall, Samantha Dakin, Sharon D Clarke, Mark Bonnar, David Holt, Duncan Wisbey
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 74
Production
Producer(s) Daniel Bays
Running time 22–25 minutes
Release
Original network CBeebies
Sprout
Original release 5 March 2012 (2012-03-05)

Tree Fu Tom is a live-action/CGI CBeebies children's television program which has been shown on BBC and CBeebies in the UK and Sprout and NBC Kids in the USA. It is set in a miniature magical countryside and village area (Treetopolis) on the top of a part of a trunk of a big tree in a British-type woodland, where the trunk turns horizontal and then vertical again. Its characters are mostly anthropomorphized arthropods (which are not to size scale with each other as in reality). The programme is aimed at 2-6 year olds.

In it, some species of insects are raised and controlled like cattle on a ranch: aphids, ladybirds, a rhinoceros beetle.

Premise[edit]

In each episode, Tom (live-acted) comes out of his house's back door, puts on a power belt, and runs across his lawn into a woodland, barely clearing a bike laid on the grass. In there is the tree with Treetopolis on, protected by a magic shield. Using the power belt he performs some Tree Fu moves, jumps up, shrinks to insect size as he flies into the tree, and enters the world of Treetopolis, where he has adventures. He is skilled in that world's magic, and often gets characters out of scrapes. The tree's sap is shown as a glowing orange magic liquid.

At least twice in each episode, Tom has to call on "the big world" for magical help: breaking the fourth wall, he asks the audience to make magical moves and say magical words to assist the necessary magical actions. The magical power is shown as an orange glow that appears offscreen and flies towards at Tom, who collects it in his arms as a ball of energy, and uses it to complete the spell.

The movements which the audience are called on to make are particularly beneficial for the development of children with developmental coordination disorder.[1]

The scenario includes magical hoverboards (called "leaf boards"), a sport called "Squizzle" and lots of different cakes and snacks that the inhabitants of Treetopolis like to eat! The characters occasionally communicate via a small, yellow, glowing device called a Holopax, in which they can see the miniature translucent form of their interlocutor. Characters also use a variety of small electronic devices to access various Wiki services (including "Fungopedia") to learn more about the plant and animal life around them.

At the end of each episode, Tom says, "Well, guys, it's time for me to head home. Bye everyone!" and he wishes his friends, and they shouted, "Bye, Tom!" Then he wave goodbye and flies up, and out of the tree's magic field. Back in the normal world, then Tom says to the viewers as he flies up, "Thanks for helping me in Treetopolis. See you soon for another adventure! Bye, for now!" and he reverts to a human boy, lands, runs out of the wood and across his back lawn, jumping over a bicycle lying on the lawn, and in through his back door.

The series's two main voice actors each previously played major roles in Doctor Who; Sophie Aldred (who voices the animated Tom) as Seventh Doctor companion Ace and David Tennant (who voices Twigs) as the Tenth Doctor. The actor who plays Tom in the live action opening and closing sections of the show, Adam Henderson, is Sophie Aldred's son.[2]

The character of Twigs is currently given voice by Actor Mark Bonnar, who has also been in Doctor Who, playing Jimmy and his "ganger" duplicate in the two-parter The Rebel Flesh and The Almost People.

Purpose[edit]

The series was developed in conjunction with the Dyspraxia Foundation with the aim of promoting movement.[1] Foundation specialists Sally Payne[3] and Dr Lynda Foulder-Hughes[4] worked with the series creators to develop the movements Tree Fu Tom uses to create magic. Five percent of children have developmental coordination disorder, and these movements are similar to those used by occupational therapists to help child development. It is also hoped that the spells will help get exercise into the lives of young children.

Characters[edit]

Tom, the main character. He uses a magical belt to transport into Treetopolis and cast spells with help from the 'big world'. Though he's usually the best at spells, he's a modest character and often has to turn to his friends for advice when things go wrong. Voiced by Sophie Aldred, live actor Adam Henderson.

Twigs, a trilly-cake loving, silly and energetic Scottish Acorn Sprite who is Tom's sidekick and best friend, and frienemy of Chezz, who usually encounters conflict. voiced by David Tennant in the first two series (2012–2013), and Mark Bonnar in the other three (2014–2016).

Zigzoo, an eccentric tree frog who is the local inventor at Treetopolis, though not all of his inventions work out quite as well as he (or others!) hope. These setbacks don’t stop Zigzoo from trying his best to come up with something useful though, especially if he is able to impress Ariela - whom he appears to have a crush on. voiced by Tim Whitnall 2012–2015 David Holt 2016–xxxx.

Squirmtum, a pill woodlouse who is a miner of sap in the caverns and general-purpose workman, and not the most intelligent of creatures. He can curl into a ball, and in that form he can roll fast. He wears a miner's helmet with a firefly called Flicker as his helmet light. Voiced by Tim Whitnall 2012–2015 Duncan Wisbey 2016–xxxx.

Ariela, the alpha female character, a beautiful but feisty cowgirl butterfly in charge of the Branch Ranch at Treetopolis, and generally doesn't accept help from others. She likes to get her own way; but she's always there when her friends really need her. (It is perhaps somewhat subtly implied that Zigzoo may have a crush on her.) She's highly competitive and rather impatient. Despite these assests, she's incredibly nurturing, especially towards her 'critters' and even Teabiscuit the rhino beetle. voiced by Samantha Dakin.

Rickety McGlum, an elderly spider of Treetopolis; he used to be thought of as scary, but is now a close friend to Tom and his friends. He is also a Squizzle expert and trainer, and leader of the Tree Fu Rangers. He is also the grandfather of Racquette. Voiced by Tim Whitnall 2012–2015 Duncan Wisbey 2016–xxxx.

Treetog the Tree Spirit, the plump friendly leader of Treetopolis. She also acts as the schoolteacher, teaching the young sprite creatures and Tom traditional tree fu spells. Voiced by Sharon D. Clarke.

The Mushas (Puffy and Stink), sister and brother respectively, forever arguing, and the main antagonists, two naughty animated toadstool-type fungi who cause trouble, though occasionally, Puffy seems to be the true antagonist. voiced by Sophie Aldred and Tim Whitnall 2012–2015 Duncan Wisbey 2016–xxxx.

Sprites including Chezz, Bertie, Hazel, Lavender, Sweetpea and Goose throughout the first series, these were only background characters, but they began to make more frequent appearances in the latter series. Chezz In particular is a very arrogant, badge-obsessed conker sprite with rhoticism, who likes to show off. Despite having mild respect for Tom, Chezz is usually arguing or attempting to compete with Twigs - often teasing him over his smaller size.

Muru, enigmatic, Spanish, praying mantis introduced as part of the new 2016 cast, red magic teacher and friend of Tom. Has a magical stick that is able to rewind and fast forwards time. He uses an extension of tree fu magic (red magic) that allows the user to take on attributes of a big-world animal such as the speed of a cheetah or strength of an elephant. He uses a magic spell stone which has all the animal spells upon it. Voiced by David Holt.

Racquette Troublesome female spiderling with a strong northern accent, and the granddaughter of Rickety. Although she loves and respects her granddad, she wishes he would allow her to adventure, believing him to be dull and overly cautious. She can be quite headstrong, though she usually realises when she makes a mistake. When bored or upset, she begins to spin webs in her hands. Spider's appear to have a web spinning method similar to Spider-Man, from whereby it comes from their wrists. Voiced by Sophie Aldred

Rootle and Shade, shy brother and sister dark sprites that live in the deep root caverns. Were afraid the light would turn them to jelly. Unlike the normal sprites, they lack wings and have snail shells upon their heads. Their ears and eyes are much larger than the other sprites. Rootle has an odd impediment where he switches the first letters of characters names around (Tom and Twigs become Twom and Tigs, Stink and Puffy become Pink and Stuffy, although he does not do this with Shade)

Episodes[edit]

Series 1 (2012)[edit]

  • Episode 1: May the Best Berry Win: the Biggest Chuckleberry In Treetopolis contest.
  • Episode 2: Squizzle Quest: A game projectile goes astray
  • Episode 3: Zigzoo The Zero: Zigzoo gets tired of inventions failing
  • Episode 4: So Long Greenhorns: Tom and Twigs swap Spell School for running Ariela's ranch, and vice versa.
  • Episode 5: Hide and Squeak: A game of hide and seek; Squirmtum's fear of the dark gets the better of him..
  • Episode 6: Wishful Thinking: The Mushas get hold of a magic pebble,
  • Episode 7: Zigzoo's Robot: Zigzoo builds a robot that causes more problems than it solves.
  • Episode 8: With Friends Like These: Some go off to play Squizzle when they are supposed to be helping Squirmtum. Stink and Puffy see a chance.
  • Episode 9: Buzzworthy: Bees get into the ranch
  • Episode 10: Winging It: Squirmtum tries to fly using a jetpack with wings
  • Episode 11: Crystal Catastrophe: Treetog's casting crystal gets broken.
  • Episode 12: Fungus Among Us: The Mushas trick Tom and Twigs into making a mess of Treetog's castle.
  • Episode 13: The Big Ranch Rodeo: Trouble organizing a rodeo.

Series 2 (2013)[edit]

  • Episode 14: One for All!: Tom leads his under-performing squizzle team on a quest to find the enchanted squizzle.
  • Episode 15: Treefle Tom: Tom and his friends' greed for tasty treefle treats leads to trouble.
  • Episode 16: The Great Journey: Tom and Twigs get a crash course in being ranchers as they lead an epic baby beetle drive.
  • Episode 17: Not So Fast: Ariela's impatience causes trouble for Tom and Treetopolis!
  • Episode 18: Hovering Humblebugs: Tom's attempts to attain perfection cause problems for the humblebugs.
  • Episode 19: Treasure Hunt: Treelings and Mushas are thrown together to compete in Treetopolis' annual treasure hunt.
  • Episode 20: Tom's Big Mess: It's the Annual Tidy Up and Tom's careless cleaning efforts lead to disaster.
  • Episode 21: Sappy Day: Preparations for Sap Day are thrown into turmoil when the Mushas get up to mischief.
  • Episode 22: Grubble Trouble: Tom and Twigs' friendship isn't the only thing threatened when Twigs gets a new pet.
  • Episode 23: Rickety Rescue: When Tom and friends get into trouble it's up to Rickety to leap to the rescue!
  • Episode 24: Weather Bother: Zigzoo invents a weather machine to create perfect conditions for each of his friends.
  • Episode 25: Tiny Tom: Tom tackles titanic troubles as he is accidentally shrunk to the size of Twigs' toes.
  • Episode 26: The Lost Stone: A calm, quiet pond creature accidentally absorbs Tom's sapstone.

Series 3 (2014)[edit]

  • Episode 27: Harvest Antics: A colony of hungry ants threatens to ruin the harvest
  • Episode 28: Twigs' Big Boost: Twigs greedily eats the booster berries on Ariela's ranch and attempts to hide it from his friends
  • Episode 29: Spincake Day: Zigzoo's job to make spincakes is disrupted through musha mischief
  • Episode 30: Tom's Fan Club: Tom and Twigs' friendship and the spring beetle eggs are threatened when the other sprites hero-worship Tom
  • Episode 31: Tom's Teddy: Tom searches for his missing toy
  • Episode 32: Conkerball Run: The treelings challenge the mushas to the famous race that Rickety lost
  • Episode 33: Bad Tom: The musha's frame Tom and Twigs for their bad deeds in hopes of ruining spooky day
  • Episode 34: The Cavern Coaster: Zigzoo builds a coaster to help Squirmtum, but is distracted by turning into a ride for the sprites
  • Episode 35: Woodgrubs: A colony of hungry woodgrubs begin to devour the caverns
  • Episode 36: Chuckleberry Tom: Tom gets more than he bargains for when he uses magic to make himself funny
  • Episode 37: Ranger Tom: Fungus Finder: Due to careless planning, Tom and Twigs have to act like 'real' rangers and avert disaster
  • Episode 38: Don't Go Glowy: Ariela's pet grub Glowy is turned into a wild gremmel
  • Episode 39: Last Squizzle: Tom, Twigs and the mushas must learn to work together to get more squizzles as Twigs breaks them all

Series 4 (2015)[edit]

  • Episode 40: Tom's Big Spell: A broom and a wagon brought to life threaten to ruin the feast of the frosty berries, and Zigzoo gets dangerously caught up in the kerfuffle whilst trying to help Ariela deliver the harvest
  • Episode 41: Super Squirmtum: Squirmtum ditches his day job to become a superhero, which only spells trouble
  • Episode 42: The Golden Spore: Tom and his friends learn the importance of wishing
  • Episode 43: Ranger Tom: Super Helper: By trying to help too many people at the same time, Tom and Twigs do more harm than good
  • Episode 44: Tom and the Warble Weeds: Ariela needs help from her friends to de-weed her ranch, but Twigs is more interested in smoothies
  • Episode 45: Ranger Tom: Fun Guy!: Zigzoo must learn to rely on his own skills, not just his gadgets
  • Episode 46: Twigs' Tall Tale: Chezz and Twigs compete to see who can pick the most sparkle spores, all while evading the feared big foot beetle
  • Episode 47: Ranger Tom and the Carrots of Doom: When Tom attempts to earn his green fingers badge on Ariela's ranch by growing carrots, Zigzoo causes havoc by disappearing and becoming the 'carrot monster'
  • Episode 48: Picture This: Treetog entrusts Tom and Twigs with a magic scroll that's brings drawings to reality
  • Episode 49: Dragon Fruit Fiasco: Zizgoo borrows items from all of his friends without permission, which leads to catastrophe
  • Episode 50: Ranger Tom: A Badge Too Far: Tom and Twigs try to help Zigzoo and Ariela at the same time, but fail to really help either of them
  • Episode 51: King Stink: Stink finds the golden crown of greatness and becomes ruler of Treetopolis
  • Episode 52: Tree Fu Tom: The Sprite Before Christmas: In his over eagerness, Twigs ends up destroying the party and he and Tom must fix it before the others arrive

Series 5 (2016)[edit]

  • Episode 53: Stuck: When a sticky bug attaches itself to Zigzoo, there seems to be no way of freeing him
  • Episode 54: Ranger Tom and The Musha Rangers: Puffy and Stink reinvent themselves as Musha rangers to trick the tree fu rangers into doing their work
  • Episode 55: Flicker Goes Out: Muru challenges Tom and Twigs to find their own red crystals in the deep caverns
  • Episode 56; It's a Kind of Magic; Twigs' breaks Muru's magic stick, which leads them to the dead branch desert
  • Episode 57: Dark Sprites: Tom and Twigs discover two nocturnal sprites, that have never seen treetopolis
  • Episode 58: Ranger Tom a Friend Indeed: Twigs and Chezz must reluctantly work together in a scavenger hunt
  • Episode 59: How to Train Your Buggle: Ariela's annual trufts is almost ruined when Twig's pet becomes confused with the mushas'
  • Episode 60: Treenado: Tom and Twigs attempt to use other red magic spells, and accidentally create a giant tornado
  • Episode 61: Friendship Day: Zigzoo and Squirmtum's friendship is broken by an argument
  • Episode 62: Box of Trick: Muru asks Tom and Twigs to deliver a box to Treetog using the gripping bear spell.
  • Episode 63: Ranger Tom: Beetles and Grubbles: Rickety organises a tracking game for the rangers, but Chezz takes it too far
  • Episode 64: Need For Less Speed: The treelings race to the wonderful wish fruit in vehicle, as they are able to choose what all the fruit should taste like
  • Episode 65. The Good The Bad And The Mushas: Muru suggests that Tom and Twigs help Ariela get the cure for her beetle's fungus
  • Episode 66: Racquette Risks A Rescue: Rickety's over-excited granddaughter arrives in treetopolis, and persuades Rickety to let her join Tom and Twigs
  • Episode 67: Musha Island: Bertie is tricked by the musha's during a game of pirates
  • Episode 68: An A-maze-ing adventure: Muru teaches Tom and Twigs the importance of things they take for granted
  • Episode 69: Red Musha Mischief: The musha's trick the dark sprites into getting a red crystal
  • Episode 70: Ranger Tom And Ginormous George: The mushas' pretend to be a gaint fungus eating creature to tease Tom, Twigs and Racquette
  • Episode 71: Dead Branch Challenge: Muru challenges Tom, Twigs and Racquette to cross the dead branch desert without touching the ground with their feet
  • Episode 72: Raiders Of The Lost Bark: Twigs needs to complete his bark book, but he is competing with a treemite

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Dyspraxia Foundation welcomes innovative CBeebies programme: Tree Fu Tom". Dyspraxia Foundation. Retrieved June 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. ^ "Tree Fu Tom Episode list". David Tennant Radio Plays. Retrieved June 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. ^ Anuji Varma (2012-03-16). "Solihull occupational therapist behind kids' smash hit show Tree Fu Tom". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved June 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. ^ "Children’s animation could help dyspraxic kids". SEN Magazine. 6 March 2012. Retrieved June 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

External links[edit]