Set in and around Roald Dahlís home Gypsy House, the programmes explore the way in which strands of Dahlís own life were woven into his wildly imaginative stories. Like Dannyís father in Danny Champion of the World, Dahl made hot air balloons for his children, and like Mr Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he was obsessed by sweets!
A laptop screen appears throughout the programme with archive footage of Dahl telling us where the ideas for his characters came from, and giving advice to would-be writers. Storyteller Jo James reads extracts from Dahlís books and reminds us of the importance of reading aloud.
The first programme introduces us to Dahlís home, Gypsy House and his writing hut. This small, simple garden hut is the place where he wrote for two hours each morning and afternoon. Making himself comfortable in an easy chair, the only equipment Dahl needed was a makeshift writing desk on his lap, a pot of sharpened pencils and a pile of yellow paper. In this way Ė with a quiet place to work and a disciplined routine to stick to Ė Dahl wrote eighteen books for children.
We meet Wally Saunders, an elderly man with very large ears who built Dahlís writing hut. Apparently he inspired the gentle, large-eared character of the BFG Ė an excellent example of how Dahl took peopleís tiny peculiarities and exaggerated them.
Dahlís books are published in numerous languages, which demonstrates the extent of his worldwide appeal. The programme explores what this appeal was, focusing particularly on his characters and the wonderful way in which he described them.