Biff and Chip get their own TV show, 35 years after books launched

Love them or not, there’s no doubt Biff and Chip—together with their childhood pals—will be familiar twins to generations of British school children and their parents.

Launched in 1986, Oxford Reading Tree published 24 stories featuring this mischievous duo, with the aim of encouraging and improving children’s reading. Created at various levels, or ‘stages’, aimed at a variety of primary reading abilities, these books are sure to have graced classroom library shelves and been ferried in book bags between school and home, for well over a quarter of a century.

Now, in 2021, the BBC has brought their adventures to the TV screen, as Biff and Chip make their debut, Monday 13th September on the CBeebies channel.

There are over 800 books featuring Biff & Chip, and the TV series is aiming to take the spirit of their world rather than adapting particular stories for live action television.

A behind the scenes video from the BBC suggests almost an “Outnumbered” approach to filming, where there may be a script but also a lot of deviation, with the actors (both children and adults) bouncing ideas off each other and almost improvising at times.

Jack Wilkinson, who plays the dad, says, “There is a lot of laughter in the episodes and it didn’t need to be forced at any point.”

Kellie Shirley, playing mum, adds, “Yeah, because when you’re five years old like Freddie is, who plays Kipper, you know, he’s playing stuff in the moment, which makes us play stuff in the moment, and when you’re working with a puppy it just all goes crazy in a really good way. Like life is, life is like that isn’t it?”

Series one features 15 episodes and will be available on CBeebies and the BBC iPlayer. Further episodes a re planned for next year.

The cast includes:

  • Tilly Kaye, playing Biff, who has previously worked on Gentleman Jack and Last Tango in Halifax.
  • George Robinson, playing Chip.
  • Freddie James as Kipper.
  • Kellie Shirley, as mum, who has been in In The Long Run and Eastenders.
  • Jack Wilkinson, as dad, who has had roles in The Doll Maker and Doctors.

Of course, Biff and Chip are not the only ones to make the journey from print to screen. Topsy and Tim are notable twins who have done the same.