Tom MacRae is an English screenwriter, author and playwright. He is the creator of Comedy Central’s Threesome, has written for Marple and Lewis for ITV, and Casualty, Doctor Who and Bonekickers for the BBC.
Tom’s earliest brush with the world of entertainment was becoming a magician. He was taken to the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry to see a magic show. Afterwards, he met one of the magicians who had become a designer and maker of magic tricks. He visited his workshop and was shown several tricks, one being levitation.Tom decided to make this effect for his GCSE in Design Technology for which he won a Midlands award! The school wanted to submit his design for a national award but Tom decided to withdraw because he did not want to offend the Magic Circle. Locally word got around and so lots of Saturdays and Sundays his lucky father had the role of magician’s assistant driving the entertainer to birthday parties with all his kit and bringing him home!
Now for university
Tom left school at 16 and joined Daventry Tertiary College for two years. During that time he made a couple of short films and learnt what was to become the most important skill for a writer – touch typing. Now for university. But which one and what subject to study? Many unrealistic discussions took place during which Oxford was rejected at the time, considered to lack sufficient egalitarianism. Informed advice was sought and an old friend, a professor of modern linguistics remarked that “as long as the area demanded intellectual vigour, any would do.” Anthropology at Goldsmiths was the answer. Tom is a very social and considerate person who has a sincere and successful manner with people. These qualities combined with enormous creativity and high motivation is the basis of his success. His three years’ experience at London University was very positive. Before London he decided to go on his own to India for six months. This was in the time before mobile phones. His parents could not believe it. Was this their boy who rather than go to the South of France preferred to stay at home with his grandmother? When he came home he was ‘grown up’.
Runner to writer
He remained living in London and started looking for work. He became a ‘runner.’ “What’s a runner?” asked his parents. Someone who works in TV or film productions and is a general dogs body, does anything & everything they were told. While working on a TV production made both in Italy and England he found himself flying to Italy and back every day for two weeks. After the first day he asked the producer if, whilst on the plane could he have something to do. Every day she received a pile of stories and scripts from would be writers, and asked Tom to read and precis them. She enquired about Toms own work.The result was ‘Schools Out’ broadcast by Channel 4. It was nominated for a BAFTA award!
Dr Who ?
One day Tom was walking down Charing Cross Road and noticed in Foyles a book signing by Russell T Davis. It was lunch time, the queue of people nearly gone. Russell looked up, Tom said that he didn’t have the book but very much admired Russells’ work. “Let’s have lunch” said Russell and they have been friends ever since. Tom was delighted that his first project with Dr Who (his favourite programme as a child) was the Cybermen. Work came thick and fast. He wrote a “Lewis” story (and got his mother a part as an extra) followed by a Miss Marple episode. Comedy Central commissioned Tom to write a comedy “Threesome,” it was a big success. For Sky he wrote a new story for Fungus the Bogeyman by Raymond Briggs which went out at Xmas. Meanwhile Tom together with a friend of his, Dan Gillespie Sells leader of The Feeling, decided to write a musical. Later they met Jonathan Butterell who had seen a BBC documentary about a 16 year old school boy who wanted to go to his school prom dressed as a girl. Tom and Dan liked the idea and the result is ‘Everbody is Talking about Jamie’ now packing them in at Londons’ West End. The show was first produced at The CrucibleTheatre, Sheffield.
Tom, now living in Los Angeles is working on his third contract as writer/producer for the very popular TV sci-fi series “ The Librarians” and has just been invited to attend the New York party celebrating 30 years of Andrew Lloyd Webbers’ “ Phantom of the Opera”.
Not bad for a boy from Weedon who wanted to be a magician!