Mister Maker, alias Phil Gallagher, is leaping off the small screen and on to the big stage with a spectacular live show
Children know him as Mister Maker, the cheery chap on telly who shows them how to make all sorts of things and sings silly songs, along with four colourful dancing characters known as The Shapes.
And now Mister Maker, alias Phil Gallagher, is leaping off the small screen and on to the big stage, including theatres in Family magazine territory, with a spectacular live show.
So what can his fans, both young on grown-up, expect from Mister Maker on the road?
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for such a long time,” says Phil. “I didn’t want to do it until I could do it right. I really wanted to take the spirit, the themes and the catchphrases, some of things from the TV show that the kids would recognise, and make it into a live spectacular theatre show that hopefully would exceed people’s expectations.
“What we’ve done is created a Mister Maker live show that will be enjoyed by all the family, not just the little ones that watch CBeebies, but older children as well who used to watch Mister Maker and still watch it with their younger brothers and sisters, and also the grown-ups as well.
“Grown-ups are part of our audience, who quite often watch the show with their children and enjoy coming to the theatre to see the show and make it something the whole family can enjoy.
“The core audience on CBeebies in general is up to about six or seven, but for the Mister Maker live show we’ve had much older children coming to the show, and we’ve had lots of teenagers and even students, which has been lovely.”
The Mister Maker tour began in September, took a break from November to February, and by the time it ends in June he’ll have done nearly 100 shows nationwide.
“I’m working with a great company called Evolution Productions. They’re the company that I do my pantomimes with every year, and that’s what I wanted to infuse into the show, the pantomime spirit.
“I wanted it to be a show that the audience would feel involved in, a very interactive show, one that they feel they can come and jump up and shout and sing and come up on stage as well. We get people up on stage, kids and grown-ups as well. Even though we’ve got a plan and we’ve got script, every show is different.”
On the TV shows, Mister Maker shows youngsters how to make things from everyday items, in the tradition of children’s TV favourites such as Tony Hart and Neil Buchanan, with the camera going in close. So how does that translate to a big stage in a big auditorium?
“When I sat down to plan the show that was my main challenge,” Phil says. “Mister Maker on TV is very carefully produced and very carefully directed with a lot of beautifully shot close-ups that tell the story of how to make quite small-scale things to quite young viewers. We have a camera operator on stage and have a big screen at the back of the stage, which is in a fantastic great big frame like a picture frame.
“When I make something small during the show the cameraman zooms down and it gets on to the big screen. We also wanted to make everything bigger, make everything more spectacular and give it a live interactive feel so we’ve filled; the show with lots more music and dancing than there is in the TV show. I’ve put a lot more in to give it a real feel of variety as well. I wanted to exceed people’s expectations.”
Phil opens his show with a Mister Maker version of a Take That song, These Days, “It’s a song from their new album about looking back but looking forward as well. It’s a nice one for me because it’s a nice happy song and also it reminds me of when I was a child as well.”
When Phil was a child growing up in Kent, his dream was to be a children’s TV presenter, and he loved “making things and being arty.” “I loved watching Tony Hart, and I loved watching Art Attack with Neil Buchanan. My first heroes were the Broom Cupboard presenters from the BBC with Phillip Schofield, Andi Peters, Gordon the Gopher and Edd the Duck. Then there was Roland Rat on TVam. I loved all those characters.
“I’m 38 now but I’m such a big kid and I enjoy my job so much. My mum and dad always come to my pantomimes five or six times a year. They laugh because they know me as their 38-year-old son, and they see me on stage as a seven or eight-year-old.”