Time travel just isn’t what it used to be. That’s the view of comedian and writer David Baddiel, who chatted to Ray D’Arcy about their shared love of time travel and David’s sci-fi novel for kids, Future Friends. Neither Ray nor David made serious claims to be Time Lords, but you get the feeling that, given the chance, they’d have a go. The truth is, Baddiel could claim to have predicted the pandemic. He started work on the Future Friends in January, well before lockdowns were a certainty. The book describes the world of 3020, in which everyone is trapped inside because of deadly viruses:
“Here’s the thing: I imagined, not very originally in some ways, 3020 where she lives, as this world that’s kind of dystopian and people live in tall towers. And because of climate change and indeed because of mutant viruses, no-one goes outside. So she’s never been outside.”
David says any similarities to actual events are coincidental, but the evolving pandemic did make him tweak his original idea. The main character, Pip, grows up in a world which is completely locked down, and she’s supposed to land in a world of complete freedom when she travels down a time tunnel to 2020:
“The idea was that she comes back to now, and has a great time. She can go out, she can party, she can meet people, go to school. And suddenly she couldn’t. I got to like, March of this year when I was writing and I thought, she can’t do any of this! So I fixed it quite easily by making her come back to 2019.”
There follows a discussion about the merits or otherwise of “messing” with the past in order to change the future, and Ray and David seemed to come from opposing schools of thought on that one. Baddiel claims that the stage play version of Harry Potter has been a game-changer when it comes to the evolution of time travel in children’s fiction. David says he comes down on the side of characters trying to improve the past, if it’s in their power to do so:
“I think if you are, and the universe you come from is dystopian, then, without actually giving anything away, you might try and do something in the past that might fix a few things in the future.”
Both men agreed (just about) that time travel was only possible in fiction, but Ray asked David anyway if he’d take up the opportunity, if it arose? Baddiel admitted that it hadn’t come up, not yet anyway:
“I haven’t done it, I’ve got to be honest.”
David Baddiel also talks about how a successful comedy career is no defence against the disdain of his teenage offspring and his TV series Trolls not Dolls and more in the full interview with Ray D’Arcy here.
David Baddiel’s latest kids’ book Future Friend is published by Harper Collins Children’s Books.
Ray D’Arcy travels through time (for real) this weekend as he reprises his role on The Den. Grab your zogabongs and join Ray, Zig and Zag on RTÉ One at 6.30 on Sunday.
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