THE beloved books have been a part of family life since the mid 1980s.

Now – some 35 years on – Biff and Chip has finally been turned into a live action series for CBeebies after being filmed in Warrington.

Fifteen episodes started their run on the channel on Monday and are all available on BBC iPlayer.

And the hope is that parents will want to tune in as much as the kids as they also grew up with the Oxford Reading Tree stories.

“That’s what we’re hoping for certainly,” said Sue Nott, executive producer. “It’s very much a programme where the aim is that families will want to watch it with their children.”

The show features twins Biff (Tilly Kaye) and Chip (George Robinson) alongside their inquisitive little brother Kipper (Freddie James), pet dog Floppy and their best friends next door Wilf (Inathi Rozani) and Wilma Page (Dorothy Peters-Lowe).

These are all new stories but promote friendship and imaginative play, just like the books.

Biff and Chip find their own fun and do not need the latest toys or video games.

Biff and Chip

Biff and Chip

Sue added: “We know from youngsters who have already watched the show, from focus groups and so on, that they have wanted to go off and dig things out from the dressing up box after seeing episodes.

"They have wanted to dress as aliens or strawberries or perfect their dragon noises or ‘bury’ treasure and then make a map for their parents.”

The idea for a live action Biff and Chip series had been kicked around by the Beeb for quite some time. The team started working on it about three years ago.

Sue, who has previously worked on Tracy Beaker, The Worst Witch, Waffle the Wonder Dog and Disney’s The Lodge, said: “It was unusually extended because of Covid. But the advantage of that was it gave us the time and space to develop it as fully as we could.

“It’s always difficult when you have a first series because you don’t quite know what you’ve got until it’s finished. But at least the producer, the writer, the director, script editor and I had time to bond and have lots of discussions about how we wanted it to be.”

Biff and Chip was filmed in Warrington and Birchwood and there was also a ‘premiere’ style event at the Golden Square for an exclusive screening of the first two episodes.

Biff and Chip

Biff and Chip

Sue added: “We filmed at the studios at Birchwood Park. We did all the interior filming there and then we had a lovely couple of weeks at the Pyramid arts centre.

“The team there were fantastic. It looks so beautiful visually at the Pyramid and we did three or four episodes there.”

Filming took place between February and April.

Sue said: “It was right in the middle of lockdown which was interesting but I think partly because nobody could go anywhere else everyone was just so happy to be working. And the children were overjoyed to be with friends and doing something exciting after all the home-schooling. It was a very happy shoot and I like to think that shows on screen.”

Sue was very impressed by the confidence of the young cast, which also features Gavin and Stacey’s Melanie Walters as the fun loving Gran.

She added: “At first we had to do everything mostly at a distance so they were all sending in self tapes.

“We had one ‘chemistry’ session where we put together various combinations of Biffs and Chips and Wilfs and Wilmas but even with that there was social distancing so it was quite hard compared to how we would normally do it.

The show encourages children to use their imaginations

The show encourages children to use their imaginations

“But the kids have been great. They’re full of fun and enthusiasm and had so many ideas from the beginning to the very end.”

Sue has also been looking forward to the show’s launch on a personal level as her grandchildren are Biff and Chip fans.

She said: “My grandson learnt to read on them and my granddaughter is just starting to learn to read on them so that makes it extra special for me because I’m in their world. They came down to stay with me in the summer and I showed them a couple of episodes.”

So what is the secret to entertaining youngsters, who tend to just get up and walk away if they get bored by what is on screen?

Sue, who described the Biff and Chip books as ‘timeless’, added: “They are the harshest critics and they’re also quite unpredictable so you’re never quite sure what will work and what won’t.

“Comedy is very important. There needs to be fun. There needs to be laughter. There also needs to be intriguing story.

Biff and Chip

Biff and Chip

"It can’t be too complicated as they need to be able to follow it but it has to be a very satisfying and adventurous story to make them want to keep watching.

“You need lots of visual treats in there as well.”

Sue has learnt that after decades of working on children’s and family programmes, including The Ant and Dec Show

She added: “They were lovely to work with and as far as I can tell they’ve not changed since they were kids. I was working with them when they were 18 and what is extraordinary about Ant and Dec is their relationship.

“They’ve been together all that time and are as close now as they were then. They were a joy to work with...although they treated me a bit like their mother!”