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James May’s Toy Stories

James May's Toy StoriesJames May delves deep into his
  childhood to take some of the world’s
  best-loved toys of yesterday and
  bring them up to date in a very big way
  in James May
s Toy Stories...”

EVERYTHING IN JAMES MAY'S WORLD becomes even bigger. Having expanded his television presence from his best-known role in Top Gear, the thoroughly entertaining and likeable James May takes up the challenge to reintroduce the most popular toys of yesterday to the 21st Century — with the emphasis on Fun.

Challenge is James' middle name and in James May's Toy Stories he takes on some madcap toy adventures designed to lure children away from their bedrooms and playstations and to tempt parents into discovering the child within.

James seeks to pit Computer Games against Old Fashioned Toys liberated from the toy cupboard to be supersized. While finding their true potential, James harnesses the Great British team spirit. "For too long now," he says, "we have regarded the great toys as merely playthings. It's time to use them to bring people together and achieve greatness. And I bet it'll be a right laugh as well."

So what happens when you bring an Airfix kit to a bunch of today's teenagers? James gets a chilly reception at the Thomas Telford School, but the youngsters soon find out that Airfix kits, the brainchild of Hungarian Nicholas Kove, can be cool — especially when you can build a life-sized model of the beautiful Spitfire. Challenging, yes. Impossible, no. The result is the world's biggest-ever model aeroplane spanning 11 m, 8.8m long and 3.3m tall. It comes complete with a pilot who looks eerily familiar. James also gets to achieve a dream and fly an historic Spitfire himself.

The second challenge is to produce the world's first garden made entirely out of Plasticine. William Harbutt, who invented Plasticine in 1897, would have been as amazed as James by the inventiveness and creativity of the volunteers. With 1365 kilograms of Plasticine and in twenty-four different colours, Paradise in Plasticine includes poppies created by Chelsea Pensioners and becomes the first ever non-organic exhibit to appear at the prestigious RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Not only is James given a surprise award but he also earns himself an accolade from the lovely Susan Hampshire and a kiss from the beautiful Joanna Lumley!

Having successfully tested the strength of a Meccano crane on his beloved Porsche 911, James has a challenge to benefit the people of Liverpool. Liverpudlian office clerk Frank Hornby invented Meccano in 1901 and James is going for an innovative, 21st Century footbridge to cross the canal in front of the Liver Building, made entirely out of Meccano and another world first. With a host of engineers, architects and students from the University of Liverpool's Engineering Department, will he meet this challenge?

James May's fourth challenge is to run a Scalextric track along the original course of the Brooklands race circuit. The world's first racetrack opened in Weybridge in 1907 but much of the track has disappeared beneath roads and buildings and only about half survives. With the help from 350 local volunteers and finding himself in places others fear to tread, James wants to see cars racing — albeit in miniature — around the complete track for the first time since 1939. Tiff Needell cameos as James' trackside reporter.

Next it's off to Devon to build the world's longest model railway with inspiration from Germany's Minatur Wunderland in Hamburg. James enlists the help of Boy Scouts as he lays 16km of toy track along the old Barnstaple to Bideford seaside route.

Teaming up with Oz Clarke, James meets Felton Vowler who runs the Bideford Railway Heritage Centre from an old carriage and is thwarted by the wrong kind of rain as well as dirt and leaves on the track. The model trains include Hornby's new model of the Hitachi High-Speed Bullet Train from Japan, Oz's ACE and a Great Western Region diesel.

Finally, James experiences what it is like to build in the real world with Lego as he oversees the construction of the world's first full-sized, two-storey house built entirely of a mind-boggling 3.4 million Lego pieces on a site at Denbies Vineyard near Dorking, Surrey. With radical architect Barnaby Gunning, James visits an ultra-modern German Huf Haus built from a kit and finally agrees a design before, working around the clock, 1,200 volunteers produce bricks in Lego colours.

James "moves in" and has a house party in spite of some very serious flaws regarding practicality and usability. He entertains guests Gerald Scarfe, Britain's best-loved caricaturist and his charming wife Jane Asher, Oz Clarke and Christina Fallah — who was responsible for the perfectly-designed Lego furniture.

The six episodes feature extraordinary feats of engineering as James takes time out with some of Britain's best-loved toys. Putting generations of families at the heart of some ludicrously ambitious undertakings, James reminds us of the precious joys of creativity, quality family entertainment and education. He takes on the biggest toy challenges of all time without a second thought. Well, would you expect anything less? Only the British could do it!

Written and Presented by James May who, with Will Daws and Stuart Cabb, devised the series, James May's Toy Stories is Produced and Directed by Graham Strong / Paul Buller / Alex Dunlop.

James May's Toy Stories is released exclusively by 4DVD on 7 December 2009. Just in time for Christmas! Running Time: 348 Minutes Approx | Catalogue Number: C4DVD10300.

Extras

Deleted Scenes: Model Railway Madness; Peter Snow's Attic | Plasticine Garden: Flower-Arranging | Lego House: Legoland Vault | Interview With James May.

"James May's Toy Stories the thoroughly entertaining and likeable James May takes up the challenge to reintroduce the most popular toys of yesterday to the 21st Century with the emphasis on Fun" — Maggie Woods, MotorBar