HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THE FACT YOU HAVE SUCH A LARGE FAN BASE, YOUNG AND OLD?
I try to create shows that will appeal to everyone. The key thing for me is to make shows for the family to watch, together. I think that is vital, particularly in this age of iPads and other platforms. I like to put some comedy in there that the adults will like, as well as the kids.
WHO WERE YOUR HEROES GROWING UP?
I am a big lover of slapstick comedy. I watched a lot of Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and, of course, Laurel & Hardy when I was younger, and still do now. Those pioneering comedians are still funny to this day. Modern children will watch Laurel & Hardy and belly laugh. Slapstick is not done so much nowadays and I think I’m flying the flag for that form of comedy.
WHY DO YOU THINK MR TUMBLE IS SO POPULAR?
I think that the nation has embraced Mr Tumble, and the show is very special. It was conceived by Allan Johnston who came to me and said he wanted to do a small show and there was a character called Mr Tumble, and I thought “great” I can bring my slapstick skills to the table. It struck a chord and overnight he became very popular.
YOU’VE WORKED ON MANY SHOWS ON CBEEBIES - WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE AND WHY?
My favourite is definitely Something Special. We have been filming that for 15 years now and the feedback we get from the children, parents and teachers is just phenomenal. When you realise the impact of the show helping children learn how to communicate - it wins hands down every time.
YOU’RE TAKING YOUR SHOW AND CHARACTERS ON THE ROAD THIS SPRING IN JUSTIN & FRIENDS: MR TUMBLE’S CIRCUS. WHAT CAN FANS EXPECT FROM THE SHOWS?
We wanted to highlight Mr Tumble in this show, so we thought: what’s his background? Well he’s a clown - so why not bring the circus to town? There are speciality acts - juggling, balancing, along with a whole host of other CBeebies presenters. And we are bringing a whole plethora of my characters from all three shows, including Robert the Robot, Little Monster, Aunt Polly, Keith Fit - who’s going to be doing his workout on the stage. It’s a challenge because I’ll be running around backstage donning many costumes, but it’s going to be great fun.
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF STAYING WITH KIDS’ PROGRAMMES FOREVER, OR DO YOU HAVE AMBITIONS TO DO MORE GROWN-UP SHOWS?
I’m not going to leave children’s television because it’s what I love doing. As long as the body holds out, because I tend to throw myself about and tumble around a bit. I will always keep one foot firmly in children’s television because it’s where I started. I’ll probably come up with another format in the future, and will perhaps look at doing some adult comedy - I think that may appeal.
WHAT OTHER SHOWS HAVE YOU GOT IN THE PIPELINE?
I saw Shaun The Sheep Movie the other day and I would love to do a Justin feature-length film one day. I think that would be nice, but nothing’s been discussed just yet. That would be a dream of mine though.
YOUR NEW ALBUM JUST PARTY IS RELEASED IN MARCH. DID YOU ENJOY CHOOSING AND PERFORMING THE MUSIC ON THAT? WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PARTY TRACK?
We did the festival circuit last year and got a taste of what people like to listen to at parties. So we have a mixture there - some classics from the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties and some new stuff. We also have the new single Just Party and The Pass The Parcel Song which is designed to be sung with that game. I don’t think anyone has done that before.
AND FINALLY... WHAT’S INSIDE MR TUMBLE’S SPOTTY BAG TODAY?
Ah, good question! It’s the Tumble Tapp!
:: Justin & Friends: Mr Tumble’s Circus tours nationwide from April 1-14