Friday, 17 June 2011

Do I tell? Of course I tell!

As you may have seen, this week I interviewed Justin Fletcher for Mommatwo about his new T.V. show, Olly the Little White Van.

Well - this interview, whilst being very exciting and great fun to do - and lucky ole me - hasn't half earned me some ribbing from my friends! 

I pondered whether to share this story - but since I'm already getting the ribbing and schadenfreude is a wonderful thing I thought I'd pass on the laughs. I just hope that the lovely PR people from Truffle PR who set up the interview for me don't click around too much and see this too because I'd be ever so embarrassed if they were to send it to Justin himself! Particularly since, after the interview, he called me "sweet"!

Now, this is a while back. For the first year of Roman's life I was pretty strict about telly - he was allowed to watch it on occasions but it wasn't often. As he got bigger and got interested he was allowed to watch more. Then I was pregnant with Jasper and suddenly unable to walk or sit on the floor to play the games he was used to, and I found myself resorting to putting it on more often so he wouldn't be so upset that I couldn't play - not a great parenting technique, I admit, and one I felt a lot of guilt and pain over at the time.

I suspect it was this guilt (and the repetitive songs, the bright shiny colours and the noisy noisy noise of kids tv) that led, eventually, to me dreaming about Ceebeebies and Roary the Racing Car. Initially it was normal - ish; I had to change Roary the Racing Car's tyres, I had to help Peppa Pig to get George in the bath, I took Chris and Puy to the beach - all fine. 

Then there was That Dream. The Justin dream. I won't go into details (there are children present, after all!) but it was One Of Those dreams. You know what I mean. All I can say is that Justin was very gentle, and loving. Afterwards he took me shopping, and held my hand on the escalators because I was scared. He was a lovely dream boyfriend. 

After that dream I couldn't watch him on telly for a while without feeling like I was doing something pervy so I made out that I didn't like his shows - but Roman loves them and eventually the dream faded into distant memory and I could watch Something Special without thinking about Justin's something special (ahem) and the world was coming right again.

Today though - I spoke to him - and goodness me he's lovely - just ever so lovely. Just as lovely as when he took me shopping and held my hand on the escalators. My friends are having a field day teasing me and I spent the whole phone interview blushing purple - I suspect he could feel the heat from my face burning down the phone lines. 

You never know - tonight, Justin Fletcher might be having One Of Those Dreams about me...he did think I was sweet, after all! 

Interview with Justin Fletcher

This morning I was very lucky - and VERY excited - to have the chance to chat with Justin Fletcher about his new show Olly the Little White Van - amongst other things! It was the first time I've interviewed anyone - and to start with Justin Fletcher, the biggest superstar in Kid world, was nerve wracking to say the least! 

Luckily for me Justin is incredibly nice and put me at ease right away - he's very easy to talk to, I could have chatted to him all day, and soon forgot that I was supposed to be interviewing him because I got carried away chatting. 

Here are the questions I asked Justin and his answers.

"How involved were you in the development of the new show, Olly the Little White Van?" 

- I wasn't at all - I was brought in to test for one character and the producer of the show asked me to play Olly. I do the voice for Olly and there are some small bit parts that I've played in recording at each session - I think I'm in double figures now! 

"How different is voice over work to your usual studio stuff, and do you still 'act' it all; I know your usual work is very physical and slapstick."

- Oh completely, if anything voice over work is even more exaggerated; I embellish the performance. I think seeing that helps the animators with expression and comic timing too - they see how we move and incorporate that into the animation. I never sit down when I'm performing, I do it all standing and when I'm doing the voice over work I totally escape into Olly's world and believe I am Olly! 

"Olly is described as having a helpful nature - do you see yourself in that or do you associate at all with the personality of Olly's best friend Bazza who is described as 'a little bit naughty' in the show?"

- (laughs) I think I was totally typecast as Olly - I love high energy roles, Olly is just that, he's like a labrador puppy, always wants to be pleasing people and making people happy - I'm just like that. I think if Olly had a tail he'd be wagging it all the time, he's a lovely, happy character. 

"The show has a really catchy theme tune - as do a lot of your shows - I have a two year old and we watch you on T.V. together and I find myself (and my son) singing your songs all the time - do you find that you do the same when you get home after work?

- Oh my goodness, yes! I love catchy tunes and I love the tunes to the shows - Olly is definitely a catchy song and with all of them I definitely sing them when I'm not working! 

"You've said before that you decided at drama school that kids TV was where you wanted to work - did you expect it to go so well and did you have a back up plan?"

- Oh goodness, yes, I was very focused at drama school, I decided that was where I wanted to work and I got my sister to help me do a showreel and I was very lucky that two months later I got my first work. I certainly didn't expect to be so lucky - I thought maybe I'd get work for a couple of years, but I've been doing it sixteen years now. I didn't expect involvement in so many projects but it just keeps growing and I love it, absolutely love it. I think the key is constant reinvention - I love creating new characters and trying them out, and I love working with the kids, the kids are brilliant - I just love what I do. 

"Do you think that the appeal of kids T.V. is the chance to be an eternal child?"

- (laughs) definitely - it keeps you young, the kids keep me enthused, it's like a Peter Pan complex. We go on location a lot, out to meet the kids, and to schools, it's great - we go to the schools to record Gigglebiz and the kids tell their jokes, they tell them all themselves and they are their own jokes, and they're just amazing. It's great to work with kids. 

"Do you find that being from a large family (Justin has four siblings) means that there's a lot of kids around and does that help with your work?"

- oh goodness, yes, it keeps it interesting; my siblings all have kids now and I always test out new characters or new things on my neices and nephews and my cousins - it's great. Having a big family means lots of support and feedback. I get a lot of feedback from the audience too, I get a lot of great letters and you hear a lot of wonderful stories, particularly from the kids watching 'Something Special' - I love hearing the stories of kids learning to communicate with makaton and love hearing that it's helped or made someone happy, it's great.

"You were awarded an MBE for your work on T.V. for kids with special needs - congratulations for that - you're a great influence in that world and a great success - do you have more plans in that direction?"

- definitely, yes. We're in the 8th year of 'Something Special now and I'm just staggered how popular and successful it's been. It was intended as an educational show and I thought it was going to be going out in the early morning, because it was intended as educational to be shown in schools, but the BBC put it on in the prime time and now we're on the 7th series and I'm staggered! It's a great show - it's so simple, and the makaton is so simple and it helps so many people; it's so great to see it relieving the frustration and helping kids to communicate - you know, there are some children, they can't talk but they can use this to communicate - they can tap their elbows and you know they want a biscuit or a drink, they can tell you what they want and it relieves so much frustration.
It's had a really big impact ('Something Special') and it's totally unique, and means such a lot to the kids. We decided three years ago to take it out of the studio and shoot on location with the kids and it's been amazing. The children are the stars - they never cease to amaze me. They teach me something every time I'm out with them - they can do so much sign language and I'm learning all the time.

"It must be great as well to be out working as yourself and as Mister Tumble - I know my son thinks they're two separate people!" 

- (laughs) oh goodness, yes, I get that a lot - lots of children think that Mister Tumble is a separate person and I think that's great - it shows how well it's done and that just that costume can make the difference, and it shows how much the kids love Mister Tumble - it's great to have a character that's so well loved. (Justin has told a story about going out with his niece; a child shouted "Mister Tumble!" and Justin's niece said "oh is Mister Tumble here? Can I meet him!?") 

"Going back to Olly, and to animated work - is it much different working in voice over work to working in the studio?"

- oh, yes, very - animation is very individual, and recording Olly was very high energised, very upbeat, he's very happy - I said before he's like a labrador puppy, it's great fun. There are a lot of characters, they're all great friends - it's like one big happy family, a big circle of friends.

"Do you do voice work all together with the rest of the cast or do you do it alone?"

- no, it's all done alone, on an individual basis - I had a lot of time constraints because I'm working on so many projects at once and travelling to location a lot so I recorded my parts alone, but the director was there and it's very well directed, we had a lot of discussion and I was given a lot of guidance and I also got to bring my own ideas as we were recording and we worked together. It's a great show, a great team. 

"My last question is that you are always very busy, you're involved in a lot of projects - do you ever have a day off and just stay in your jim jams and relax?"

- (laughs) I get asked this a lot - the answer's no! I never stop - I work a lot, I'm doing a lot of different things. I am planning a holiday for next year! (Laughs again) I'm very busy, you have to take work when you can and I always think it's going to get quiet and then it doesn't, it just gets busier but I love it too much! 
A lot of people use kids T.V. as a stepping stone but I'm happy where I am - it's where I always wanted to be and it's where I want to stay. I am planning some down time though, we all need to recharge at some point! I plan it - but then more comes up - and I really do love it! 

I really, really enjoyed chatting to Justin - he is so nice, genuinely nice, and whilst I think a lot of people in the showbiz industry put nice on to do interviews Justin was really enjoying his day. Just before my interview started I could hear Justin talking to someone and he was laughing and joking and having a great time - when he says he loves what he does, it seems he really means it - and he really does love the kids and the happiness his work brings.
I particularly loved how many times Justin laughed, and said "oh goodness, yes!"  

Next month Justin will be doing a few live shows at Paulton's Park in Hampshire and we're hoping to be able to go - I would love another chance to speak to Justin and introduce my son, who would be beside himself.

In the meantime check out my post about the new show Justin chatted to me to promote - Olly the Little White Van - here, it looks amazing and Roman is already very excited about it - I foresee a house filled with Olly merchandise very soon! 

Olly the Little White Van

Got kids? Then you know who this guy is!

This is Justin Fletcher; known to parents and preschoolers across the nation. 
Justin has been working in kids TV for a number of years and has played a huge number of characters over the span of his career, entertaining and enthralling millions of children; coming soon is a new and incredibly exciting edition to that collection - Olly the Little White Van

Meet Olly - a little van with a big, bubbly personality! (Just like Justin!) 

According to the press release Olly is described as fun and cheeky with a lovely heart. There's a whole fun cast of new characters for your children to love and they have lots of adventures and each episode has a song and dance - so it seems that Olly the Little White Van ticks every box for my boys.

In the process of writing this blog post I watched a clip of Olly and my son Roman (the 2 year old) came running over when he heard the *very* catchy theme song and watched the clip with me. Then we watched it again. Then again. And again. Immediately Roman loves Olly; he loves the singing, the action, the characters, he wanted to see every part of the website over and over. As I write this he's peeping over the top of my laptop and asking for "Olly little and white!" and my husband is humming the theme song as he runs the bath. A hit! 

Olly the Little White Van starts on CITV on Sunday 26th of June at 6.25am - I might even let my husband have the Sunday lie in for once so I can watch it!

To see the rest of the characters and some clips look at the website here and see the facebook page here  to find out more information. 

This morning I was lucky enough to interview Justin Fletcher about Olly (amongst other things!) See the interview here.  

Monday, 13 June 2011

ERIC campaign

So it's now just less than two weeks until the Cybermummy conference - eeeeeeeeeeep I'm excited! Excited and nervous; a big conference full of the 'proper' Mummy bloggers, and just full of, you know, people, is quite daunting! It goes totally against my natural instinct for being a reclusive loner. I'm excited though because it makes me realise that I'm a proper grown up, who is good at something! 

(The something is writing - in case it's not obvious to my readers! If it's not, just don't tell me, I'm delicate!) 

If you missed my first couple of posts about it, I'm being sponsored to go to cybermummy by ERIC and they just launched a REALLY excellent campaign - please click the link and check it out; it's about conquering bedwetting and childhood incontenence and the campaign is called "Dry and Mighty" - there are some BIG names involved and it's very exciting that I've been chosen (thanks to the wonderful Lena for passing on my details) to represent them at Cybermummy. 

Today I received a great big parcel from ERIC with some posters and leaflets about their Dry and Mighty campaign - and a really rather spiffy t-shirt for me to wear at Cybermummy; I'm really looking forward to being able to pass out some leaflets and spread the word about Dry and Mighty - if you have kids their continence and potty training is a steep learning curve and ERIC have all kinds of great advice on where, when and how to start and what problems might arise - kids of all ages can have continence problems and ERIC can help you to help your children through them.

They have a pretty awesome shop too - we're getting some of their books to help Roman with his potty training (which is still a way off in case anyone's wondering; he still gets off the potty and pees somewhere else in the room!) so check it out and if you want to help raise awareness of the campaign get in touch with ERIC - they can send you some posters and leaflets to disribute in schools or groups you go to.

Lynda Bellingham

The lovely Linda Bellingham with an ERIC Dry and Mighty campaign t-shirt; I like to think it's the EXACT one that I got in my parcel today! 

Sunday, 12 June 2011

A whole, entire year?!

Today is our first ever, proper for real wedding anniversary; A WHOLE YEAR!

June 12th, 2010 Alex and I became Mr and Mrs - a really, truly glorious day followed by the joy of knowing that I'm his ACTUAL wife. I love being married - being married is so different to, and so much better than, simply being boyfriend and girlfriend. Having a family is much nicer than "having a child with my boyfriend" (not that there's anything wrong with that - I was perfectly happy when that was us - I just like being able to say "my husband" haha!) 

When anyone calls me "Mrs" I still get a little thrill - every time someone refers to my husband I still get butterflies and grin. 

He's my husband, and he's the best husband that ever there was. He never does the dishes, but he always empties the bins. He never cleans the toilet, but he's the one who pulls my hair out the plug when I've had a shower. We balance each other out in every way and bumble along together - however much we can drive each other mad it's still each other we turn to for happy news, sad news, funny news - we're each other's sounding board, best friend and guidance for tricky situations.

Thank you to my husband for loving me back and thank you for my family, my home and my life. I love you. Always and all ways.