STEVEN Lee knows the power of storytelling better than most.

When the playwright was in primary school he was obsessed with enormous crocodiles, friendly giants and greedy sweet-toothed kids.

In fact he was so infatuated with Roald Dahl’s work that he used to write him letters – and the beloved writer would write back.

Steven, who is now a children’s author himself, said: “I like to think he knew that if you were a genuine super fan you could find his address. Because littered throughout his books were tiny clues.

"If you read them front to back including the credits and everything else you could work out where he lived.

"I think he was quite generous to people who had gone to that much effort.

“I used to invite him over for tea and he used to make lots of really charming excuses why he couldn’t come which, as a child, I totally bought. Now, as an adult, I realise he was just being very nice to a fan that he probably thought was part mad. I said my mum was a good cook and he definitely should come.”

Roald Dahl never did come for tea but Steven met him for the first time when he was just seven.

The 44-year-old added: “They say you remember the great teachers from your youth and that’s definitely true because I had a lovely headmaster called Mr Heasman when I was at Dollis School in Mill Hill.

“He knew I was this crazy Roald Dahl nut and I like to think he invited him to the school for me. It was the first time I met him and he did a reading and a book signing.”

Steven is bringing his latest production, Don’t Dribble on the Dragon, to Warrington on Sunday and spoke about Roald Dahl when asked what inspired him to write plays aimed at youngsters.

Warrington Guardian: Roald Dahl

He tries to sprinkle a bit of Roald Dahl magic on all his work but equally his children Jack, six, and Molly-Maisie, nine months, provide plenty of inspiration.

In fact, the idea for Don’t Dribble on the Dragon – about a drooling toddler, his cooler older brother and a magical brother – came from a toy that Jack’s auntie bought for him when he was a baby.

Steven said: “My sister bought him a dragon when he was born and he would dribble everywhere but particularly on the dragon because he liked it a lot.

“From that I had this idea that came to me almost whole and perfect in an instant – like a gift from god. I’ve got two kids now and I’m kind of reliving the experience that inspired Don’t Dribble on the Dragon because my youngest is nine months and her teeth are coming through.”

First came the book but the stage version was blessed with magic in more ways than one thanks to a chance encounter.

Steven, who was a teacher before he became a playwright, added: “I’d adapted Old Macdonald Had A Farm and we were performing that at The Woodville in Gravesend.

“Paul Daniels was rehearsing for an Easter pantomime there and came in to watch the show.

“He came up to us afterwards and said: ‘If you’re ever thinking of putting magic in a show here’s my card’.

“I thought he was just being polite but I pondered it and thought dragons and magic marries together well so I rang him.

“I was super nervous before I dialled but the next thing I know I was sending him the book. Then I come home one day about two weeks later and there’s a voicemail on my phone. He thought it was a lovely story about brothers and was happy to get involved.”

The next 18 months became the most surreal but satisfying period of Steven’s life as he worked on incorporating magic into the script.

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Steven, who is now close friends with Debbie McGee, said: “He showed me tricks which he probably wasn’t supposed to do. But I suppose he was at the point in his career where he was beyond rebuke.

“He liked showing people stuff. He liked people and he liked entertaining. That’s what made him a huge star for so long. He had the enthusiasm and energy for it.

“Fans of Paul Daniels will get to see this last unexpected bit of his genius. There’s things that defy gravity, there’s huge dragons coming out of tiny suitcases. There’s all the fantastical stuff you’d hope to see from a man of his creative output.

“I was so sad when he died. When you meet somebody like that you hope it’ll be the start of a long term working relationship. That was the end of the story for me and Paul Daniels but at least we have this and it lives on and is amazing.”

  •  Don’t Dribble on The Dragon is at the Pyramid on Sunday. There are two shows at 11.30am and 2.30pm. Visit or call 442345