Leyland’s Oscar-nominated film writer has drawn on his past to pen a new drama for a prime-time TV spot.
Tom Bidwell, 28, has now moved back to his beloved home town and is nervously waiting for his new TV show to air on E4 in January.
The former Balshaw’s High School pupil, who has lived in Leeds for a few years, says he used his own adolescent experiences to write the script for the top channel’s new series, My Fat Mad Teenage Diary.
“I’ve written it all, and it has been quite a challenge,” Tom admitted.
“It’s an adaptation of a real diary from an obese 16-year-old girl who lives in Australia.
“I spoke to her on the phone and Skype to get some ideas, but I also knew what she was going through to some extent.”
Tom, who is enjoying life in his new home in Towngate, suffered from a cancer called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was just 14, and underwent months of chemotherapy.
The former Runshaw College student can relate to the girl’s struggle to have a normal teenage life while battling with health problems.
“Everyone struggles with something,” he said. “But people just want to be normal, especially at that age.
“It’s also set in the 1990s, which is when I was growing up, so I can relate to a lot of things about the show.
“The character is quite normal really though, and I think people will be able to take something from it.
“It’s got a good message.”
He added: “It’s quite a dark drama, but it has a comedy edge and is quite similar to the TV show Skins.
“I think Skins was quite euphoric, with lots of parties, but this is more realistic.”
It’s not the first time Tom has used his own hardships to write something brilliant.
In 2011 he was nominated for an Academy Award for his short film, Wish 143, about a young cancer patient who is granted one wish before he dies.
But only now is he starting to feel the pressure of writing something for a mainstream audience.
He was approached to write the six hour-long episodes for My Fat Mad Teenage Diary, and spent six months working on the project.
“I stayed up until the early hours on quite a few occasions working on it,” he said.
“I was given quite a lot of freedom to write it, which is really great, but it’s also frightening.
“I will be nervous to see the final work, but this is my job and I love it.
“This last year has been a dream come true. I’ve really felt like I’m working on something important.”
Tom, who enjoys hanging out in Bean Drinking on Hough Lane and showing his girlfriend, Lorraine Metz, around Worden Park, added: “I’d be happy doing TV, film, radio or plays, as long as there was a good story to base it on.
“I also wrote a feature length film for the BBC in 2012 about two teenagers who try to get revenge on their teacher by sleeping with his wife, so that was a bit different!”
Speaking about why he wanted to come back to his roots, Tom said: “This is my home, where my family and friends are.
“A lot of people ask me why I don’t move to London because of my job, but I can’t imagine living there.
“I like to visit London, but it’s not where I’m from, so it’s not where I want to be.
“It’s good to be back home.”
- My Fat Mad Teenage Diary starts on E4 on January 14, at 9pm.