I was born in Key West, Florida when my Dad was in the Navy. He got out as soon as he could and we moved to New York where he studied African History as a post-grad at Columbia. When I envisage Humf playing on the big rocks with his friends, I think I picture Riverside Park where I used to play. We went to live in Nigeria for two years while my Dad wrote his thesis and then came back to live in Boston. I loved being creative and was passionate about both writing and art as a child. Then when I was 13 we moved to London where I've lived ever since.
As a teenager I became interested in dresing up in silly costumes and performance in general, including, on occasion wearing construction vehicles as hats. Don't ask. I was riding the wave of excitement that was the post-punk DIY scene. I set up my own record label and started a band called the 49 Americans, based on the democratic idea that anyone who wanted to play could be a member. We sounded like something. And it was fun. I also formed the Japanese American Toy Theatre of London with Kazuko Hohki and David Toop. We performed adaptations of famous films using toys.
While still in school I developed an interest in both children and education. I did a work placement in a school for children with special needs which had a big impact on me. My Mum ran the nursery at the Anna Freud Centre and I sometimes helped out. In my gap year, I found work managing the video library at a school for autistic children. I learned basic camerawork, editing and film making. I also learned a lot about psychology and, most important of all, I met my future wife, who now runs her own Montessori Nursery School.
Does this hairpiece look natural?
I started writing comics after our first son was born. Then World Productions commissioned me to come up with ideas for a new preschool show. I also began working in documentaries, first as an editor and later as a director, but after my series, The Caribou Kitchen, was commissioned by ITV, I took up writing full time and working from home. This meant I had a lot more time with my three sons, who were my test audience. The boys were great at pointing out plot weaknesses and story faults. Unfortunately these were often already on screen.
Those boys are pretty big now and I have a lot less hair on my head, but I am still here writing scripts for children's animation and feel very happy and very lucky to be doing so. Long may it last...