14/08/2014 16:51 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

CBeebies' Alex Winters Talks Festivals, Auditioning As A Tomato And Party Entertaining

CBeebies' Alex Winter talks festivals, auditioning as a tomato and party entertaining

CBeebies presenter Alex Winters will be the compere on the main stage at this year's LolliBop, the UK's only festival just for children.

The TV star and dad-of-three talked to us about his love of festivals, the joys and pitfalls of being a children's favourite and how life has changed from being a picture framer five years ago to a household name today.

Here at Parentdish we are very proud to have partnered with LolliBop. Look out for more interviews, news and competitions.

What do you love about LolliBop?

Alex: This is my third LolliBop and it's like a Glastonbury for kids. I love festivals – in fact I'm taking my eldest two, Grace, who's six, and George, who's four, to Glastonbury this year. My wife will stay at home with the baby.

We'll be camping - it's going to be hilarious, although I might end up crying!

A few years ago I saw a poster on the tube for LolliBop with Jarvis Cocker on the bill and I'm a total muso so I thought 'wow' and I was scrambling to find out what it was. Now in its fourth year, I love it, it's totally brilliant.

There's no camping, the line-up is the same every day but even if you went more than once you'd still get a different experience, you can't see it all in one day.

CBeebies' Alex Winter talks festivals, auditioning as a tomato and party entertaining

For the sceptics who might think a kids' fest sounds a nightmare, how would you reassure them?

It's at the Olympic Park this year which is fantastic, an open space where you can do what you want – you don't have to say to your kids 'get off that', it's not a situation where yours is the only child embarrassing you!

There's so much to do and it's all aimed at them, with every age catered for from 0 to 10. The main stage will have Dick and Dom, there's the Big Tent, walk-about entertainment, live music, sport, dancing, interactive demos, workshops and once you get in, apart from food and little pocket money things to buy, everything is free. My kids blimming love it!

How has life changed for you since you became a CBeebies presenter?

Nearly five years ago I was a picture framer in Taffs Well, Cardiff, and I just cannot believe the acquaintances and contacts and friends I've made. I mean, I've got Simon Pegg's number on my mobile phone! And the other night I was out with Clint Boon from the Inspiral Carpets! I'm also an ambassador for the Caudwell Children charity and I've rubbed shoulders with Bruce Forsyth and Rod Stewart.

I compered a ball once when Robbie Williams was playing and I'd thought before 'what a plonker' but oh man, he was one of the nicest men I've ever met.

Life is amazing but I appreciate it because underneath it all I'm just Alex from Fairwater in Cardiff.

How did you get your big break on CBeebies?
I have a drama background and studied it at university. But a few years back it was getting harder to find paid work and I was married and we'd just had Grace so I made the decision that I didn't want my wife and kid to be living on baked beans.

I became a picture framer because I have a load of sports and music memorabilia so I fell into it. Then a friend of mine's sister told me CBeebies was advertising for a presenter and I've always loved children's TV.


I used to pretend to be behind the camera with a loo roll on Why Don't You and Blue Peter!


My wife told me to go for it so I did - not expecting to get it. I just thought if I went for it, it would be something I could say when I was a granddad, that I'd had a go but it didn't work out.

I had been an extra on Doctor Who and Torchwood but that had been it. Then at my final interview in London I passed out – dressed as a tomato - because I had pneumonia and pleurisy and the next memory I have is waking up in hospital in Cardiff.

But two days later, I got the call and heard I'd got the job.

CBeebies' Alex Winter talks festivals, auditioning as a tomato and party entertaining

Do you put CBeebies on when you've got a hangover, like the rest of us?

No because I'm not a drinker! But I do put it on for a break, if I'm trying to eat my breakfast in peace.

Do parents expect you to entertain their kids?

Totally, yes they do. It's quite sad really. I'm not saying it in an arrogant way but it does happen because of what I do. I've stopped going to things because people expect it.


My kids get invited to every party going, there's been a marked rise in invites since I started CBeebies, and I generally don't go to them because in the past parents will say 'while you're here, do you mind doing this or that' and it's like a busman's holiday.


What do your kids think of you being on CBeebies?

They're pretty blasé about it! When my first link was on TV my wife invited loads of people over to watch it and we videoed Grace to see her reaction when I came on; she just stared when I appeared, then when I introduced Ballymory she cheered. It was the biggest anti-climax ever!

She did used to get upset seeing me saying goodnight on the bedtime hour if I wasn't there and that used to upset me. Their favourite is our new presenter Cat, and they like Andy Day because he sleeps on our floor when he's in Manchester!

Do you let them watch any channel other than CBeebies?

Until we came to Manchester, we only had Freeview but to be honest they've only really watched CBeebies because it has no adverts. We don't allow lots of TV but they do like to play on the CBeebies website a lot. Having said that, my son loves Spiderman on Nick Jr and he pretends he's into Ben 10! Grace would rather read though.

If you had the choice, would you appear in Strictly, Big Brother or I'm A Celebrity?

Strictly, every time! I'd give my left leg to go on it, I love it and I'd love to see if I can dance. And it'd make my mum so proud – her and dad were ballroom dancers and I remember before I went to school she would teach me how to waltz.

Has anything about your job changed in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal?

Nothing has changed for me because we've always been very careful, as children's presenters. Things have been tightened up at the BBC but we have always been cautious and remain so. It's painfully sad. We love being round kids, I have three of my own, and it's very difficult when people are asking you for photos with their babies and when you see the kids' faces light up, you remember you're their heroes.

I remember idolising Floella Benjamin and Derek Griffiths when I was small and if I'd met them I'd have wanted to explode.

But it's difficult when someone's grabbing my leg in Tesco and I look down and it's not one of my kids. I have met Floella and even now I wanted to hug her!


The three-day festival takes place in London from August 16 – 18 at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London.

The line-up includes Cbeebies superstar Justin Fletcher (Saturday and Sunday only), Dick and Dom, Skylanders SWAP Force, Shaun The Sheep Championsheeps, Peppa Pig, Science Museum Live, Postman Pat, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Transformers, Poppy Cat, Rastamouse (Friday only) and Cloudbabies.

LolliBop's live theatre tent – The Lollipalladiam - showcases performances from pioneering and internationally renowned companies and artists.

Tween Town is especially for older kids, with cool activities like DJ workshops, movie editing and beatboxing masterclasses.

Imagination Stations are situated throughout the festival for 3-10 year olds to get crafty. There's also a 3ft and under zone for pre-schoolers.

The Enchanted Forest will host reading and stories, and there's also a brand new Discovery Zone, Meadows area, Lolli Promenade and much more.

LolliBop offers all the fun of a festival without the hassle of camping and all activity is programmed for the under 10s. For information, go to

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