Anyone with a child under 10 will need no introduction to Katy Ashworth – she's about as A-list as it gets for pre-schoolers and primary school kids. But for the uninitiated, Katy is the 27-year-old Cbeebies presenter who serves up song and dance alongside a hearty dollop of charm on I Can Cook - the hugely popular kids' cooking show.
In April, Katy is off on tour as part of Cbeebies Live! The Big Band, where she'll be singing, dancing and generally having a riot on stage, before racing home to baby Charlie, who was born in October 2013.
"The Big Band is my first 'proper' thing since having Charlie last year," Katy tells us while the little guy in question chuckles quietly to himself in the background. "I've done the odd show and personal appearance but nothing major. I'm feeling pretty good about getting back to it and being on stage again.
"It helps that Charlie is now taking a bottle so I'm not too worried about leaving him for bits and bobs.
I love my work and it makes me very happy, which will make Charlie happy, too.
So what can we expect when the Cbeebies Live crew – featuring Katy, Mr Tumble and Mister Maker, to name a few – takes to the stage over the Easter holidays?
"The theme is Big Band so it will be music and everything that comes with – singalongs, dancing and huge amounts of fun," says Katy. "Being on stage is completely different to filming shows. I love them both but the energy and reaction from children when you're performing live is amazing."
Being off our screens on maternity leave might mean that she's not in the corner of our living rooms at the moment, but that doesn't stop little – and big! - fans recognising her.
"I've always had children – and sometimes their parents – recognise me, but what's strange is that they also know Charlie because of my appearances!
"I hear 'Mum, there's Katy and baby Charlie!' when I'm out and about. It's really strange to walk down the street and someone knows you and your son – especially when he's only four months old! Some of the smaller children really look and stare hard, and you can see they are trying to work out where they 'know' me from.
"The other day Charlie and I were in the library and a little girl, about four, just stared and stared with wide eyes and I could see her trying to work it out. It's very cute."
Katy's worked with children for years, and was a kids' entertainer before starting out presenting I Can Cook in 2009. So how does having a child compare to being around other people's?
"I do feel more connected to parents since I've had Charlie.
I now understand why they get so excited when they meet me - I make their children happy. There is no better feeling than seeing your child happy and contented, and no nicer noise than hearing a child laugh.
"I can empathise with parents more now I am one. Before I was a woman leaping around on stage with boundless energy making their children laugh - without actually having a child of my own. I can imagine that was pretty annoying to watch!
It sounds like Katy has lucked out with Charlie – 'I don't like the word but 'good' does sum him up, he sleeps, eats and is pretty content' – but like us all, she's pretty knackered.
"One word sums up first few months: exhausting!" says Katy. "Thank god for make-up, that's all I can say. I do love it, though.
"I think I sort of prepared myself for the worst, and for motherhood to be a struggle. Because I had that in my head, I'm pleased to say I've found it slightly easier than I imagined. Being a mum is so rewarding.
My favourite thing is just waking up and seeing his face - this hilarious little munchkin grinning back at me.
"Tiredness is the toughest bit. Charlie sleeps well but he is up to feed in the night so I have broken sleep. It's not the actual nights but the knock-on effect of not being able to concentrate."
Katy's a child of the 80s and 90s, and grew up with children's TV. Her favourites were cartoons (Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys) and of course, Blue Peter. Was television always a pull?
"I changed what I wanted to do countless times growing up, but there was always a bit of a theme. When I was younger I used to make videos in my loft, then when I was doing a drama degree I was going to be an acrobat. I then auditioned for I Can Cook, and the rest is history..."
Compared to the shows she grew up with, children's TV and specifically their production values have moved on massively. "On some shows we have the same effects and props as they use in films," Katy explains. "The technology is amazing and the shows are a lot more diverse and ambitious than when I was a child. What I love most is that kids' TV is going down an educational route.
"There's an underlying message of inspiring children to grow up with good morals and to care about the world we live in. Even on I Can Cook we teach kids to care about where their food comes from and how it is cooked.
"Kids' TV is doing great work, which is exactly why I do it."
CBeebies Live! The Big Band is touring UK arenas from 5-19 April. Visit Cbeebieslive.com for more details.
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