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Film: Super Gran hopes for Peter Rabbit and Paddington-style reboot

Super Gran
Scottish actress Gudrun Ure played Super Gran in the popular 1980s ITV children's show

First, Paddington Bear steamed into the box office. Then Peter Rabbit scurried his way onto the big screen - and soon it could be grandma's turn.

Super Gran, the 1980s series about a super-powered OAP, may be the latest British children's TV show to get a feature-length reboot.

Keri Collins, the movie's Welsh writer, even won a recent prestigious accolade for its unproduced screenplay.

Now he hopes his script will go on to emulate those previous blockbusters.

"What Paddington did so brilliantly is appeal to both parents and kids," said Keri, a father of two from Portskewett, near Chepstow in Monmouthshire.

"While parents remember the original, their kids just love the new version and think it's fun, making it appeal to both generations.

"So when thinking of a new project I looked back at iconic shows of my childhood such as SuperTed, Banana Man and Super Gran," added the 45-year-old.

The Emmy-winning Super Gran TV series ran between 1985 and 1987 on Children's ITV and went on to be broadcast in more than 60 countries.

It was so popular it attracted many eclectic guest stars like comedian Spike Milligan, darts champ Eric Bristow, strongman Geoff Capes and football great George Best.

Initially a series of books written by Forrest Wilson, the fictional series was about Granny Smith, who gets superpowers after accidentally being hit by a magic ray - powers she then uses to protect the residents of Chiselton from a series of villains.

Scriptwriter Keri - a former Welsh Bafta Breakthrough director once mentored by film royalty Kenneth Branagh - bought the option to it about five years ago in a bid to take Super Gran to the big screen.

"Sometimes film and TV commissioners want ideas based on existing things as there's a built-in audience," he said.

"It can be deemed as less of a risk because they know people already like the original book or TV series.

"Super Gran was the one that got me really excited as this was the one show I always watched on TV and loved.

"It has sold hundreds of thousands of books and was a very popular TV show, so I know there's a huge nostalgic audience there made up of people like me.

"And if my two (children) are anything to go by, they love a fun action-packed story.

"Plus, I want grandparents to be involved as the film explores the unique relationship a child has with their gran and granddad."

Super Gran and Geoff Capes
Former world's strongest man Geoff Capes appeared in the Super Gran TV series

Keri's family comedy-adventure version surrounds a dyslexic 12-year-old London schoolboy called Willard who, fed up of people calling him names, reluctantly goes to stay with his Scottish grandmother for Christmas.

The story, which has been developed with award-winning producer Sarah Brocklehurst, develops as Willard discovers his nan has superpowers and a secret spy base beneath Loch Ness.

They then do battle to bring down a tech-obsessed nemesis who wants to bring about instant climate change for profit - the boy soon realising his dyslexia could help them overcome the villain.

"It's a story of hope and finding our own superpowers, because we've all got insecurities which may hold us back," said Keri.

"So it's all about reframing those in a positive way."

Super Gran
Super Gran was broadcast in more than 60 countries and comedian Billy Connolly sang the theme tune

"The big theme though is climate change, inspired by my youngest son who, when he was seven, called me out while shopping for choosing a bunch of bananas with plastic wrapping on.

"He said 'choose the bunch without packaging, dad, so we can help save the planet'.

"And he was right - it's amazing how kids are so aware and can even teach the grown-ups a few things sometimes."

Keri hopes to use tips gained from former mentor Branagh - the Oscar-winning director, writer and actor - should a film studio commission a production of Super Gran.

"I was matched with Ken while on a mentoring scheme because I was a writer and director like him," he recalled.

Thor director Kenneth Branagh
Keri was helped by top actor and director Kenneth Branagh through a scheme called Guiding Lights

"At the time, he was directing Thor, a massive budget, action-adventure, superhero movie, and Super Gran is a similar superhero adventure story."

Branagh shared career advice and guidance on scripts and invited Keri to the filming of Thor in Los Angeles - where he got some of his "best advice" from another Hollywood A-lister, the actress Rene Russo.

"It was my last day on set and Rene's birthday," Keri recalled.

"She came over to me and said, 'Whatever you do, never give it up, keep trying - it's a hard business but you've got to keep going'."

Rene Russo
Keri says he'll never forget his career pep-talk from former Lethal Weapon and The Thomas Crown Affair star Rene Russo

"She didn't really need to do that as we hadn't really spoken before, so to give me that little pep talk was incredible and so generous.

"Maybe if Super Gran does get made, it should be her that plays Super Gran."

Some 22 judges on the Brit List - made up of top industry executives and designed to showcase emerging screenwriting talent - recently recommended Super Gran, resulting in it topping 2023's pick of unproduced scripts.

Keri Collins in the Convenience set
Keri's debut feature Convenience was shot in a petrol station in south Wales and is now on Netflix

Oscar winners The King's Speech, The Favourite and Academy Award-nominated Lion and The Danish Girl are among the 82 scripts that have gone on to be produced after Brit List nominations since its inception in 2007 - as well as box office sensation Paddington.

"The list draws projects to the attention of the wider industry and many of those who pay attention to it are actually in America," added Keri.

"They look at the list as they search for new writers, projects and scripts, so this accolade gives the project lots of kudos and momentum.

"Hopefully it will get seen more widely because I know there are people reading it right now who wouldn't have heard of it before."

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