Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Interview with Cbeebies presenter Katy Ashworth

If you don't have young kids - or aren't a preschooler yourself - the name Katy Ashworth is unlikely to mean much. But to millions of youngsters, this bubbly 25-year-old is as A-list as they come.
Any regular viewers of CBeebies will know Katy as one of the channel's link presenters, and host of the hugely popular show I Can Cook. And in a couple of weeks she'll be bounding onto the stage at the Broadway Theatre in Catford in her one-woman show.
Speaking to me ahead of the gig on October 26, she proves every bit as chatty, full of beans, enthusiastic and bouncy as she is on the small screen.
"I'm so at home on stage entertaining kids," she says. "I think it's where I'm meant to be, so it's great to be back doing what I love best."
Talking 19-to-the-dozen and with an infectious laugh, it's no wonder Katy has endeared herself to an army of young fans. And the appreciation seems to be mutual as she admits she has the "best job in the world".
"I've always loved messing about with kids and making them laugh," she says, "and I've been an entertainer for kids' parties on and off for eight years.
"I really do have the best job. Sometimes it feels a bit unreal though - I've been very lucky."
Katy won her sought-after position almost straight out of university, and was as surprised as anyone to get it.
Laughing loudly, she says: "I did a drama degree at Exeter University and when I graduated I saw a job in the Stage newspaper for a CBeebies presenter. I sent in a show reel of me and my niece messing about and having a laugh in the kitchen. A couple of weeks later I got the job. How random is that!"
The job, presenting I Can Cook, involves Katy helping kids to knock up an easy and tasty recipe from scratch in the CBeebies kitchen. Its considerable success (a new series is currently being recorded) is largely down to her easy going and friendly manner - and the fact she's just a total natural with kids.
I tell her my three-year-old son now loves to cook, having been inspired by her.
She roars with laughter: "A lot of people tell me that. But do you know what? I'm actually not much of a chef. I do enjoy cooking though, and it's fantastic creating fun and imaginative dishes with the kids on the show.
"I think it's a great life skill, so it makes me feel touched and proud when people say their kids love to cook because of seeing the show. It's lovely!"
Perhaps surprisingly, the show she's currently touring with has nothing to do with cooking. According to Katy, she entertains the audience with songs, nursery rhymes, dancing and games, and basically tries to stage a big kids' party.
"Being on CBeebies is amazing, but it made me miss theatre and performing in front of a live audience, so it's been great to do this," she says. "We did a spring tour of the show and it was awesome - the kids really got into it. It was such good fun I wanted to do some more dates, so here I am!"
Aimed at ages six and under, the show is highly interactive and, according to Katy, "an absolute riot".
"It's so cool, I absolutely love it," she says with a giggle. "All the songs are familiar but they will be done with a twist. Most of the time it'll just be me on stage with my guitar and magic suitcase, but I do have my special guest, Monty the Monkey, who is great fun and the kids love him.
"It's just a simple, yet fun show which I'm hoping the parents will love as much as the kids."
Looking to the future, Katy says she definitely wants to carry on working with youngsters.
"I've got a lot of ideas up my sleeve for kids' shows, theatre shows and musical theatre, so we'll have to see what turns up," she says.
"For the time being, I'm loving doing CBeebies and I'm going to be doing a panto of Peter Pan in Chatham this Christmas - with Vanilla Ice, which is totally random!"

Katy Ashworth's Meet, Greet, Sing & Play Roadshow is at The Broadway Theatre, Catford on October 26. Visit http://www.broadwaytheatre.org.uk/ or call 020 8690 0002.