Tom MacRae on Everybody’s talking about Jamie

Tom MacRae is an English television writer, author, playwright, lyricist, television producer, and screenwriter, well known as the creator of the television series “Threesome,” and author and lyricist of the book and West End Olivier Award-nominated stage musical EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT JAMIE.

credits: Nina Burns

The film and stage play is about a teenaged Jamie (Max Harwood) who wants to be a drag queen. Richard E. Grant and Sarah Lancashire costar. Original writers Tom MacRae and Dan Gillespie Sells adapted the stage hit, which was inspired by a BBC TV documentary. The stage play will also be making its North American debut at L.A.’s Ahmanson Theatre as part of Center Theatre Group’s upcoming 2022 season.

MacRae is entirely self-taught in screenwriting, playwrighting, and scripting for television. MacRae was nominated for a BAFTA early in his career for writing the TV movie Off Limits: School’s Out. From there, he’s worked consistently, notably as a writer on the cult hit TV series “Doctor Who,” and he then created and wrote “Threesome,” Comedy Central UK’s first original scripted comedy since the channel was renamed in 2009, which got him noticed in the United States. He also scripted Sky 1’s “Fungus The Bogeyman” which he developed from Raymond Briggs’ classic story.

Tom is also a children’s author and has had three picture books published, including the award-winning “The Opposite,” which has gone into paperback and been published in several languages. His second book for children, Baby Pie, also received a paperback edition. MacRae also wrote the short stories, “Once Upon a Time” and “Cats and Dogs”, published in Doctor Who Storybook 2007 and Doctor Who Storybook 2008, respectively.

Up next, MacRae has joined Buccaneer Media for Nevision’s live-action/CGI adaptation of MG Leonard’s Beetle Boy children’s books, which he will pen for the screen. Oscar-winning studio Framestore, which helped create the CGI demons in His Dark Materials, has also been attached to the project.

YASS interviewed Tom MacRae and here is everything you need to know!

English television writer, author, playwright, lyricist, television producer, screenwriter. What else is Tom MacRae? How do you describe and identify yourself?

Quite simply – as a story teller.

How does it feel to have the book you wrote debut as a feature film on Amazon Prime on September 17, 2021?

​So in musical theater, the ‘book’ actually means the play, rather than a novel, so I wrote the play for the musical, as well as the lyrics. I’m so thrilled that the show I created with my best friends. director Jonathan Butterell and composer Dan Gillespie Sells, is now our debut movie – and we got to create the movie all together.

What does this play mean to you?

​It’s about acceptance, identity, kindness, the power of community and the extraordinary power of ordinary people – all the lessons that we’ve all had to learn over Covid. It’s a celebration of everything that brings people together.

Why do you feel it is important to have these conversations?

​The world is changing all the time, and that can seem scary at times – but if you can tell a story about someone who everyone likes and can relate too, and use that story and that character to open people’s minds, then change doesn’t feel scary at all.

Have you met Jamie Campbell, the real Jamie, in person? Is the role of Jamie based on the real Jamie or did you have to make adaptations for the character?

​I didn’t meet the real Jamie Campbell until after I’d written and created the fictional Jamie New, so Jamie New isn’t based on him exactly, but on my idea of what Jamie would be like, with a bit of my sass thrown in for good measure. I now know Jamie Campbell and his mom, Margaret very well, and they’re still amazed by how I managed to capture them so well without ever having met them at the time!

Everybody’s Talking about Jamie has been a very successful play in the UK and has set the standards for several musicals to follow. What was people’s reaction in the UK?

​Standing ovations at every single show – you can’t get a better review than that! We love our fans and we love our audiences and we always try to give them the best night of their lives.

What different elements do the characters in the US adaptation bring? What can audiences expect?

​Jamie’s world is much bigger in the movie, because the camera can go anywhere, so you’re going to meet more people in his community and see more of the Jamie landscape – but at it’s heart it’s still the same show created by the same people with the same warmth and joy. Expect to have a smile on your face when you finish watching it – and maybe a few tunes stuck in your head too!

What advice would you give to young people who feel like Jamie and experience the same things in life?

​Find your community – the friends and family who will support you and love you without question. Not everyone will get you, but that’s fine, that’s their loss – so surround yourself with people who celebrate who you are. And be kind and patient in response – kindness is a superpower!

You were nominated for a BAFTA for writing the TV movie Off Limits: School’s Out, you have worked consistently as a writer on the cult hit TV series “Doctor Who,” and then you created and wrote “Threesome,” Comedy Central UK’s first original scripted comedy since the channel was renamed in 2009. Also, you scripted Sky 1’s “Fungus The Bogeyman.” Please talk to me about these experiences and how they shaped your career.

​Everything I’ve ever written, good or bad, has been a learning experience, and I wouldn’t change a thing about anything I’ve done. On the way, I’ve learned to write comedy, to write tragedy, to write relatable characters and to shape compelling plots – and all of these came together in creating Jamie.

What have been some of the most important moments in your career?

​Meeting my hero and mentor, the writer Russell T Davies. He changed my life and couldn’t have been more generous with his time.

How did you decide to write children’s books and how easy or difficult is this?

​I wanted to have something cool for my godchildren to read, so I wrote it for them. The first book was easy to write, the second was harder and the third one was so, so hard!

What are your dreams/projects for the future?

More musicals written by me and Dan – so watch this space!

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