Monday, 24 September 2012

The Unforgotten Few #2 - Peter Pea & Friends

In year six of primary school, my class was asked to produce a short story in preparation for our SAT exams. I sat down, thought about the assignment, and created ‘Peter Pea’ – an eleven year old boy, just like me, but with a rebellious streak – he had bright green hair!!

My 11-year old self deemed this character a success, and I created a series of one page short stories based on the adventures of Peter Pea – that chronicled Peter’s teenage years.
Now, reading these stories back they are, to put it politely… very short. Maybe a couple of lines of dialogue wrapped around a few more lines of action. Stories were loose, and the characters virtually one dimensional.
I didn’t realise this at the time, however. I thought they were the best I could do (and they probably were) – but that didn’t stop me from wanting to push myself further, and develop longer stories and situations for these characters. Occasionally at the bottom of the one page stories, I’d draw an advert for a spin-off adventure, that I would describe as “feature length” (whatever that would have meant). Needless to say, not a single one of these “feature length” stories were ever written.
Below is a list of the projects I wrote down in my “Peter Pea” notebooks – which include its spin-offs Peter in the USA, Adam & Iris, Graham, Camper – Space Alien & Life.
1: Before Peter or Peter: The Early Years
This would have told the ‘thrilling’ adventure of the first 10 years of Peter’s life. Potentially how his parents met, and the reason why they left their old lives behind, to move to Blackmore (an area of London where the characters relocate to in the first Peter Pea adventure)
It’s possible my brain ached to write this because, at the time, I had no idea what being a teenager was like. I struggled to imagine the road teenage Peter had ahead of him – but I could picture perfectly what sort of childhood he likely had.
Nothing beyond an advert for this series was produced.
I guess it became abandoned when I’d written so many Peter adventures set in the present, I just couldn’t be arsed going back into the past. So me just being lazy!
As the below advert shows, when I decided against writing it as a series, I advertised a one off adventure – “Love in the 80s”. Not a word of this ever touched paper!
2: Stars & Stripes
An adventure in America with Peter’s uncle Homer.
Interestingly, in the advert I produced, it states that the adventure would have focused around Homer. This would have made him the first central character in the Peter universe to be an adult, and not a child.
I’ve no idea what would have happened in the adventure. I don’t think I ever knew.
Eventually Peter would move to the USA himself, and his adopted brother’s uncle Adam would have a series based around him, in Australia. So I eventually, sorta, kinda, fulfilled this special’s M.O.
3: The Nappy Days
A Graham special – bridging the gap between its third and fourth series.
It would have dealt with the birth of Graham’s new brothers & sisters – who are triplets!
Again, beyond a name, nothing was written.
I’ve no idea why it didn’t come to pass. I think it’s a combination of that old sin, laziness, and my over-stretching ambition.
4: Mum’s Life
When Peter’s mum Dot succumbs to cancer at the end of series 7, a whopping half a page is dedicated to her passing.
Realising there was still some way to go to mark the occasion properly, I advertised a special, detailing a full length version of her death.
Morbid stuff.
Not a word of it was ever written, or plotted.
5: Peter in the USA – The Musical
Inspired by Joss Whedon’s brilliant “Once More With Feeling” on Buffy, I decided to mimic my idol my writing a musical episode of my own.
This one actually did get a little into development, back in 2002/3. I wrote the beginnings of a song called “Peter & Chloe” (Chloe being Peter’s then girlfriend). I have a vague recollection of the opening lyrics being “Peter and Chloe, it’s time to wake up and face the world…” but I’m not sure if the latter half of that sentence is my brain playing tricks on me or not.
There was also an attempt at a scene breakdown made, but I’m not sure how far or how detailed that got (my records for this episode now destroyed).
I would have written it as an actual script, instead of the prose I’d been writing up to that point. If I had gone through with the project, it would have been my first ever script.
Alas, I carried on writing Peter in the USA’s standards episodes – and eventually this was so out of date that it wasn’t relevant anymore, so the idea was shelved.
6: Graham – The Comeback
Although the special never had a title, it was indeed a comeback for Graham, as the series ended in 2003, with its central character leaving home, on the verge of a breakdown.
This would have dealt with what happened next for him.
There were vague ideas written down about him returning in a hippy van, if I recall. He’d have got back with his girlfriend, who he left at the end of the series, and we’d have seen him start afresh with his parents.
I have a feeling that I wrote the first page of this story; but if I did it’s now lost to time forever.
In some ways I’m glad I never went back to the series. It’s probably one of the bravest endings I’ve written for a series. Such a downer!
We needn’t know more about Graham’s story.
7: Hot Shot!
A few years after In concluded Peter in the USA, I still hadn’t learnt my lesson! I sat and plotted several spin-offs from the series, all detailing life post-series.
The only one I can still remember (and the only one I made any attempt on writing) being Dice – the story of Dice, one of Peter’s old friends from Washington, now trying to make a life for himself in LA as a Hollywood big shot.
2 pages were produced, of something I estimated would take up 40 pages. But I didn’t plan ahead – so I’ve no idea what would have happened after those 2 pages finished.
They were good, I remember – but I destroyed the pages when I cleared out my old bedroom at Mum’s, in preparation for moving to London.
This was the last special I attempted to produce for any Peter Pea series.
The Peter Pea universe was, by that stage (2006/7/8) drawing to a close…
Still, from my 23-year old perspective, these specials are a wonderful ‘what-if?’ They are an expansion on a few series in desperate need of something more.
There’s no telling what would have happened to my writing if only I’d taken the plunge this early on, and tried something daring – and succeeded.
NEXT TIME I’ll discuss two Peter Pea spin-offs – Foreign Devils & Camper Space Alien, and some ideas I had for both that never came to fruition, for various reasons.
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