Mister Maker's jam packed schedule round the world before Sheffield panto
Phil Gallagher has a lot to pack in before he is back in Sheffield to appear in the Christmas pantomime at the Lyceum.
The man better known as CBeebies’ Mister Maker will appear alongside Strictly Come Dancing star Joanne Clifton and Lyceum regular Damian Williams in Cinderella.
But he will be warming up over the summer by going to festivals with a live version of his interactive show which teaches arts and crafts to pre-school kids with the help of some animated shapes which do a song and dance.
The other week he was at Camp Bestival in Dorset. He was on the main stage at 11am on the Saturday while you might imagine most festival-goers would be sleeping off the night before. “No, it’s a family festival and I discovered last year there was a huge audience for it,” he insists
“There’s also a CBeebies story tent where we tell a bedtime story.”But the festival is mostly music, of course. “Last year I did the sound check just before the headliners Madness so I like to think I was the support act for Madness.”
Next he is headlining the Gloworm Festival at Thoresby Park, Nottinghamshire, on Sunday August 18.
All the while he is preparing a live show for fellow CBeebies presenter Andy Day (who was in the Lyceum panto in 2014) which will be touring to Australia in September.
“I am preparing, writing, producing and directing it,” he explains. “It’s called Andy’s Amazing Adventures and will be a taste of everything he does.
“It will be a nine-venue tour and I will be appearing in the show as various characters and doing a bit of puppetry. It’s the same co-producers as the Mister Maker tour, Live Nation and the BBC, and they asked me to do the same.”
He has taken the live Mister Maker show around the world since 2012, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea and Hong Kong.
As to his CBeebies commitments, “We record in batches of 26 episodes. The long-form episodes don’t happen as much as they used to. But the Mister Maker YouTube channel is really popular.”
Phil Gallagher says his ambition since he was a kid was to be a TV children’s presenter. “I would put on shows in my front room with cuddly toys and puppets and I used to make programmes for them.“My mum reckoned by seven or eight I had already turned into a producer and performer.”
He also developed his arts and crafts skills “I made things with my grand-dad and I still have some of them, one of which found its way into the live show, “ he reflects.
But it was the performing that appealed. “I had this dream but didn’t know how I could realise it so I went and did a radio, film and TV degree and started interning at BBC Radio Kent and became a broadcasting assistant going out to local football matches on Saturday afternoons”, says the loyal long-suffering Gillingham supporter.
Eventually he began working as a performer and puppeteer on the Disney Channel and from 2003-5 was a presenter on GMTV kids show Diggin’ It. Then in 2007 he became Mister Maker and two years later earned a BAFTA Children's Award nomination for Best Presenter.
It also gave him a profile which has got him performing in panto every year since, linking up with Paul Hendy and Emily Wood’s Evolution Productions in 2011 .
“I played Buttons in Cinderella last year in Canterbury and loved it,” he says. “There’s a bit of pathos in there. It’s a lovely part to play. You come out and be a friend to the audience. Then there is the relationship between Buttons and Cinderella. There’s a bit of sadness in places and a lot of humour. It will make people smile. Paul’s script is so clever.
“There will be quite a few changes from last year, for one thing because the cast is different. Evolution cater for who is in the cast. I imagine there will be dancing with Joanne being in it. I expect I will have to learn a few steps.”
There’s always one other winter assignment too. “We will be preparing for the CBeebies Christmas show. I don’t know what that will be. It’s always a secret.”
Cinderella, also featuring Ben Thornton (People Just Do Nothing) as Dandini, Evelyn Hoskins (This Is My Family, Sheffield Lyceum and UK tour) as Cinderella and Oliver Watton (Wicked, West End) as Prince Charming and Damian Williams and Matt Daines (The Go Go Go Show), as the Ugly Sisters. is at the Sheffield Lyceum from from December 6.