INGENIOUS is an original film and has been written by Jeanette Winterson. Commissioned by CBBC, the one-hour drama will air over the Christmas period. INGENIOUS follows three children – Sally, Patch and Spikey who unwittingly release a genie, Genius, from a bottle. With Genius around, things are fun but also a little strange as he brings the world of magic into their lives. There’s also the small matter of a dragon, which Sally and Patch have dreamt about and local author Lucas Summer has seen. Where is the dragon hiding and what does he want? Then there is local villain Derek Reckitt, who is determined to get his hands on Sally’s farm. Can the kids find the dragon and save the farm?
Why I wrote Ingenious by Jeanette Winterson
I liked the idea of finding a genie in a recycling bin – because that’s where bottles are these days – and from that simple twist on an old story came the idea of a genie who wants to be part of the human race, and who learns something about friendship.
I like character based stories for kids – rather than linear action – because kids need to learn about being human – rather as the genie does, and that only happens through relationships with other humans, and not at a computer screen.
I believe that kids need language and stories, equipped with both they can make sense of their world – and deal with the dragons and the villains they will certainly meet on their travels – but in different disguises…
11 year olds Sally and Patchouli (Patch) both experience a mysterious dream on the same night. That day at their school prizegiving, local author Lucas Summer tells them he thinks he has seen a dragon.
Sally’s got troubles at home: Ruby Community Farm, which is short of money and has just had a bad fire in its cafe. Are pesky neighbours the O’Blimeys to blame? It would certainly be in their best interests if Sally’s grandma – Gransha – is forced to give in to the evil Derek Reckitt. Derek is only interested in buying the O’ Blimey’s land if he gets the farm as well, so it’s up to the O’ Blimey’s to persuade Gransha to sell up so that they can emigrate to sunny Spain.
Things get stranger when the girls and their friend Spikey discover a genie called Genius living in a 1000 year old bottle in their recycling bin. He’s soon causing mayhem: using his powers to have fun in the kitchen with flying scones and turning Ma O’Blimey into a camel. He is laughing about this with the kids when suddenly he falls into a dragon’s footprint. Genius doesn’t like dragons and suddenly, this new world doesn’t seem so attractive. When he grants the kids three wishes but tells Sally he can’t bring back her parents or destroy Reckitt and the O’Blimeys, she angrily wishes him away. He disappears.
Reckitt’s definitely up to no good; and the kids begin to wonder if he might be linked to the dragon. Patch wishes Genius would come back to help and soon a hawk is following them around. The kids turn to Lucas Summer for advice. Introducing them to the Cheshire Cat, he tells them about the world of magic, imagination and elemental spirits; saying that only the genie can really help them now. Spikey uses his final wish to ask Genius to return in human form – which he does. Genius, still scared of the dragon, insists it’s time for him to leave but the kids persuade him to stay and assist with their quest.
They realise that the dragon and Reckitt are both seeking a giant ruby which is buried in the farmyard. It’s a race against time to find the treasure, return the ruby to the dragon and thwart Reckitt. Can the kids save the farm and see off Derek? Will Ma O’ Blimey ever be turned back to her natural state, or is she doomed to spend the rest of her life as a camel? And can Sally, Patch and Spikey persuade their new friend Genius to stay?