TV success continues for Spurs fan Dan
Sun 07 June 2020, 14:54|Tottenham Hotspur
Five years on and Spurs fan Dan Freedman has seen his book-turned-TV series ‘Jamie Johnson’ go from strength to strength.
Catching up with the novelist after our initial chat in 2015 and with the popular CBBC programme having recently begun airing its fifth series, we spoke to Dan about the rapid rise of the show as well as the continuing influence of his beloved Spurs in his writing.
A journalist turned author, Dan has been a lifelong Spurs fan and it was his affection for the Club and the beautiful game that steered him towards writing about it.
His first book – ‘The Kick-Off’ – and the original volume in the Jamie Johnson series was first published 13 years ago and now, eight books and five series down the line, the writer admits it’s all been a bit of a ‘dream’.
Reflecting on the incredible journey and impact of the series, Dan admitted: “It’s just gained momentum. The first series was three episodes and it’s grown from there. Each series now is 13 or 14 episodes – put that into hours, and it’s seven films’ worth! Also, if kids started watching five years ago, say they were 11, they are now 16, and that’s their childhood!
“In terms of writing (the show), it’s very experienced script writers. It’s a different skill to writing books, which is what I do, so effectively, I hand over a character and the stories and it’s then up to the script writers, producers and directors to think about what will work for TV. For example, the books are essentially about Jamie Johnson and his journey from a kid to trying to be, say, Gareth Bale, who was one of the influences (behind the story).
“It’s exactly what I dreamed of. I had dreamed of being a footballer, but I felt like with books – and specifically Jamie Johnson – if I kept going, kept getting better, there was no place we couldn’t go with it. Yes, it’s been my dream, but you don’t often have these dreams come true.
“Ever since the first Jamie Johnson book came out in 2007, I’ve visited about 2,000 schools and normally they get me in on the basis that they have loads of kids, teenagers, even up to A-Level, who love football but don’t like reading, writing, and they don’t have realistic aspirations, so could I point that passion for football into something constructive, either academic or even thinking about coaching or being a journalist, whatever it may be – a plan B that can be channelled positively?”
Having attended his first Spurs game at our old home, White Hart Lane, at the age of just three, it is from his passion for our Club that the Jamie Johnson tale has developed. Yet, despite much of his time being taken up with his creative endeavours, of course Dan still finds time to catch our games – particularly some of our European nights from over the last few years, which have created some special memories.
Discussing last season’s extraordinary run to the Champions League Final, the author explained: “We were away for the Ajax game. My stepfather was playing golf and I went up to be with my mum to make sure she was okay. There’s a photo when the third goal went in of about 30 grown men all jumping up around my mum, who has Parkinson’s and is in a wheelchair right in the centre of them! I call her my good luck charm. That was incredible.
“Manchester City as well – every Spurs fan has been through that moment when Sterling scores that goal, then to see it go to VAR… ‘hello, there’s no way that wasn’t off-side!’ To fight all those battles recently, Real Madrid, City, Ajax – collectively we all want to experience nights like that.”