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Last Updated: Thursday February 02 2006 15:07 GMT

The life of a storyteller

Storyteller Tim Bowley has travelled the world telling people stories - from the UK to Spain, India to Colombia, Switzerland to America and back again.

He tells Newsround how stories can become like friends and why listening to a good tale is always better than watching TV!

How did you first get into storytelling?

I was part of a group who went around festivals drumming and chanting. We were due to perform the following night and one of the group said: "Let's do something different. Let's tell a story!"

Now, I'm a poor drummer and a terrible singer so I said: "Great! I'll tell the story and you all play the music to it." The next day we put the music to the story and that night we performed in a large marquee.

It was a huge success and I knew that I had found what I wanted to do in life. From that moment I have dedicated myself to storytelling.

What's the atmosphere like when you're telling a story?

The atmosphere is different every time and there is never any way of knowing how it will be. Sometimes humour is the most important bit, sometimes it's quieter, more serious stories that want to be told.

Do you ever get bored of telling the same stories?

No, because I only tell stories that I really like, stories that say something to me. They're like friends and, just like friends, they keep growing and changing, sometimes in the most surprising ways.

There are many stories that I have told literally thousands of times and I can honestly say that they remain as fresh and vibrant as they have ever been.

If I ever stop feeling that freshness and enjoyment with a particular story then I stop telling it until I feel I really want to tell it again.

Have you ever forgotten the ending to a story while you've been telling it - what happened?

This has happened just once, I'm pleased to say, and on that occasion someone in the audience knew the bit that I had forgotten so, together, we got to the end!

What do you get from listening to stories that you can't get from watching television?

A huge amount!!! Television is showing you exactly what is happening and so it requires no imagination on your part. When you listen to stories, however, a large part of what is happening is in your imagination.

If I say: "Once there was a king..." then everyone listening will see their own king, whereas with TV everyone will see the same king.

What's been your best reaction to a story?

Sometimes people laugh, sometimes they cry, sometimes they just enjoy themselves.

What skills do you need to be a good storyteller?

First of all you need to have really good stories, ones that you want to tell and others want to listen to.

It helps a lot to have a voice that is pleasant to listen to and lets you express the different characters in the story clearly so people know who everybody is.

I like to tell the bare bones of the story without putting in too much detail so people can use their imaginations.

You obviously also have to enjoy being in front of other people and sharing the stories with them.

What elements are needed to make a good story?

For me a good story has to have characters you can relate to. It also has to keep moving, so that you always want to know what is going to happen next.

I like stories that help me learn about myself and life, stories that can help me in difficult moments, so I can say: "This is just like in such and such a story and so what I need to do is this..."

Finally, what's your favourite story and who's your favourite character?

I really can't answer that question as all the stories I tell are like my best friends. All the characters in my stories are good fun to be around - even the 'baddies'!