The writer of the acclaimed Olympics opening ceremony has landed a nomination for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, for a sequel to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang almost 50 years after Ian Fleming’s original.
Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Flies Again, has been named on the six-strong shortlist for the funniest book for children aged between seven and 14. He is up against comedian David Walliams for his novel Gangsta Granny.
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was very much like the opening ceremony. There’s a feeling of ownership from everybody. People give you ideas and memories. You feel like the custodian of something, which is a really nice feeling,” he said.
“It was a joy to do because you have this killer idea, which is a car that flies. Nearly everything else that is supposedly magic, we’ve got. Half the things in Harry Potter are on my iPhone now, but we don’t have a car that can fly.”
This is his second nomination for the prize and is desperate to win. “It is a cool prize; you go to his house and choose a bottle of wine from his cellar. There’s no amount of money that could be cooler than that. So I really want to win it.”
The original book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming came out in three instalments, and Mr Cottrell Boyce plans to do the same. The second part is due for release “in a couple of weeks” and he is currently working on the third.
During the process, the author found out there was a real car called Chitty Bang Bang. “Fleming saw it racing when he was a little boy and imagined adventures with this car. It belonged to this fantastic character called Count Zborowski.”
He travelled the country in a camper van promoting the book and met various people who remembered the original book and the film fondly.
“I actually met an elderly guy in Canterbury whose dad had been the engineer on the real CCBB and he had carried rivets for his dad. It was pre-motor industry, built by Bligh Brothers in Canterbury,” he said.
Mr Cottrell Boyce has written six novels including the first Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, all of them aimed at children. He said: “Novels are what thrilled me at a young age. I do screenwriting and the Olympic Games opening ceremony, I am children’s writer. The rest are just distractions.”
Mr Cottrell Boyce has written screenplays including Code 46, 24 Hour Party People and Millions, which was directed by Danny Boyle. A film of his screenplay The Railway Man, starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, is due out next year.
The reaction to the Olympics opening ceremony is “still sinking in,” Mr Cottrell Boyce said. “I’ve monitored it in a puzzled way, thinking ‘where does that interpretation come from’?”
He concluded: “Everybody felt a part of it. If you join in any aspect of the political debate you end up diminishing it, so we’ve stayed quiet. The games were astonishing especially the Paralympics. It’s the most ‘out there’ thing I or anybody else working on it have done.”
The 2012 Roald Dahl Funny Prize shortlists are:
For children aged six and under
- The Baby that Roared by Simon Puttock, illustrated by Nadia Shireen (Nosy Crow)
- My Big Shouting Day by Rebecca Patterson (Random House Children’s Books, Jonathan Cape)
- Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton (Walker Books)
- The Pirates Next Door by Jonny Duddle (Templar)
- Stuck by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
- The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie (Simon & Schuster)
For children aged seven to fourteen
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce, illustrated by Joe Berger (Macmillan Children’s Books)
- Dark Lord: Teenage Years by Jamie Thomson, illustrated by Freya Hartas (Hachette Children’s Books, Orchard Books)
- The Dragonsitter by Josh Lacey, illustrated by Garry Parsons (Andersen Press)
- Gangsta Granny by David Walliams, illustrated by Tony Ross (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
- Goblins by Philip Reeve, illustrated by Dave Semple (Marion Lloyd Books)
- Socks are Not Enough by Mark Lowery (Scholastic Children’s Books)