THE stage version of the bestselling Tom Gates books is to have a four-night Swindon run at the end of the month.

It’s a new departure for the schoolboy character whose series of adventures has so far sold 8m copies - and for author Liz Pichon, pictured.

Her Tom Gates series, with distinctive scrapbook-style collections of diary entries, lyrics, musings and doodles, has sold about 8m copies and been translated into more than 40 languages.

She said: “I think one of the things that children like about the books is that they see themselves in there, they can recognise elements of what Tom’s about, and I hope this will also be the case with the stage show.

“I’d love to get children into the theatre who maybe wouldn’t have come to the theatre before to see something different.

“But they don’t need to know my books or Tom Gates at all beforehand. They will love the show anyway.

“I can’t wait for everyone to dip their toe into the world of Tom Gates.

“Making it a real world, and making it something completely different in the theatre, is so exciting - it gives another element which I can’t do in the books.”

This is the first stage version.

“Birmingham Stage Company contacted me,” said Liz.

“They were aware of the Tom Gates books and I was aware they had done shows such as Horrible Histories and David Walliams Gangster Granny and Awful Auntie.

“I met BSC actor-manager Neal Foster and designer Jackie Trousdale and they gave me a rough idea of how they worked and the ideas they had for the show - and I really liked their ideas.”

Matthew Chase, pictures on our cover with co-stars Ashley Cousins and Harry Sutherland, stars as Tom, who is worried that if he gets another sad face on the school achievement chart he won’t be allowed on the school trip.

Familiar characters including grumpy sister Delia and friend Derek are featured, and some technical wizardry brings Liz’ illustrations to life.

The story is completely new rather than being based on one of the books.

Liz said: “Not all of the books have a very, very strong plotline, and the nature of the way I’ve written them is that you can very much dip in and out so you don’t have to read them in order.

“There are some things which happen in every book to do with the different characters, and it felt like it would be great to take some of the main themes and work them into a new story which would work better as a theatre show.

“This also allows us to do different things with the different characters which I might not always have had them doing in the books.

“I absolutely loved the process. It’s very much Neal and I sitting in a room and coming up with the plotlines, and then pushing those boundaries - asking, ‘What else can happen?’”

Liz did not anticipate her work finding its way to the stage, but is delighted that it has happened.

“I think you always hope it will happen but I see my job as writing the very best book I can with the best drawings, and that is the core of what I do.

“So I don’t think when you;re writing it you’re thinking beyond that.

The show will be at the Wyvern Theatre from Wednesday to Saturday, November 27-30, with four evening performances and three matinees.

Tickets cost from £17.50 to £21.50, with a variety of concessions and group discounts available, and the box office can be contacted on 01793 524481 and via