This Christmas Grimsby Auditorium has a very special effect as part of their production of Snow White – CBeebies superstar Justin Fletcher appears via a special pre-recorded video projection as the Magic Mirror.
We caught up with Justin to have a chat about his role as the Magic Mirror and his career in general.
How did your appearance as the Magic Mirror Come About?
I have had links with Imagine Theatre for many years and worked on a number of shows with them and when they approached me a couple of years back about filming the Magic Mirror sequence I jumped at the chance.
The Magic Mirror is one of the most famous objects from the world of fairytale and I loved being able to give my cheeky interpretation of it!
How’s the filming for CBeebies going?
We’ve just finished filming a new series of Something Special at the moment and it’s going really well. It’s the 10th series of the programme this year and that makes it extra special!
How did you get into children’s television? What was it that appealed?
I used to love watching Philip Schofield the Broom Cupboard with Gordon the Gopher when I was younger and realized that I wanted to be in children’s television. I went to drama school in Guildford and when I finished there I was lucky enough to land my first job in a programme called Fun Song Factory.
You’ve worked on so many high profile kids shows, Shaun the Sheep, The Tweenies and obviously, your own incredibly popular programmes. I imagine it’s a competitive genre of TV to be part of. Is it hard work ‘making it’?
Well it is quite exhausting when we are filming a new series but I really enjoy it so that carries me through!
Mr Tumble, he’s a legend. Where did the idea for him come from and, the opportunity to develop this character?
The idea for Mr Tumble came from a producer at the BBC called Allan Johnston. He wanted to make a programme using the Makaton signing system for children with learning difficulties. I jumped at the chance to present it and the rest is history!
It’s impressive how many characters you can play, with such individual voices. Where do you get the ideas from?
Some of my Gigglebiz characters are very old – developed when I was at drama school years ago. It’s wonderful seeing them come to fruition all these years later.
Do you ever get mixed up between them, particularly when it comes to playing The Tumble family?
No I know all my characters really well. When I have my costumes and the make-up on I can get into the zone of each character!
Who’s your favourite character? And the most popular?
That’s a tricky one as they are all wonderful characters to play. But I would have to say Mr Tumble is my favourite as he brings so much joy to so many children.
Working alongside children with special needs, using sign language and breaking down the barriers between able bodied and disabled children, is an integral part of your work. Is this something that was particularly important to you and why?
I had never worked with children with special needs before I started Something Special. I did a crash course in Makaton and still learn more words every new series. I was very excited to be involved in a new programme that reached out to all children. The children I have met and worked with all over the country are truly inspirational and are the real stars. It has been a fantastic twelve years working on the programme and with the children.
How did it feel to be awarded an MBE and what was it like receiving it?
Well it was a real honour and a wonderful day at Windsor Castle with my family.
What do you do to relax?
I don’t get a lot of spare time but when I do I like to be outside, taking my dog for a walk, fishing with my Dad or spending time on the river.
Is there anyone in the business you admire or are/were inspired by?
I’m a big fan of slapstick comedy and Laurel and Hardy have inspired me over the years. And my absolute acting hero is probably David Jason. He’s just brilliant.
What are your ambitions and plans for the future?
Who knows what the future holds but for now I am very happy doing what I am doing.