Article/page published: 09 January 2017
Last updated: 14 January 2017
Josie and Peter felt themselves being lifted up, spinning round, and then they disappeared.
Zzaap and the Word Master was commissioned by BBC Look and Read as a five-part literacy-based drama, with the novel and storybook to accompany it. My brief was to get two children trapped in a computer word game, and to give them a series of puzzles that they had to solve before they could get from level to level and, hopefully, out of the game. I had great fun with this. The enemy who draws them into the game is called Victor Virus, and his plan is to use the children’s intelligence to help him to conquer cyberspace. Virus buster Zzaap, whose main problem is that he can’t spell, hotly pursues him. He finds that he needs the help of Josie and Peter too, though he has to get them out of the game before he can zap Victor Virus. But what they all dread is having to meet the Word Master himself.
Every level is a different setting. We start off in the Crystal Caverns, which was filmed in Pools Cavern in Buxton, Derbyshire. Although it’s full of stalactites the set designer decided they didn’t look real enough (!?) and so he made some more! The next level is the Castle of Gloom (based on the Castle of Glume in Scotland, but actually filmed in Blackness Castle). Maybe you’ll find out where the other levels are set. They film some of it in my writing room, which is a little barn with old oak beams. When the designer saw it he said it didn’t look like a writing room (?!) and he wanted to enhance it – so he put pictures all over the walls. I’ve still got them! The set designer did a brilliant job on the film, and there are some wonderful effects and animation – and the character acting is superb. But I hope you enjoy the novel too – without all those effects, you have to use your imagination.