Mister Maker: The CBeebies Presenter Talks Arts, Crafts And Waistcoats

I feel a bit silly calling Phil Gallagher by his actual name, given he's known to millions of children as 'Mister Maker'. "I get that a lot," he assures me. "I answer to both!"

Phil, 37, will probably need no introduction given that he practically bursts out of the TV screen every time his hit CBeebies show airs. But if you haven't seen him and his (meant to be) lopsided waistcoat in action, here's the gist: Phil plays the title character in the BAFTA-nominated kids' show Mister Maker, where he draws, doodles and folds his way through art projects, all of which he does himself - there's no faking when he's making. In April, Phil is packing up his paint box and collecting his craft materials ready for CBeebies Live the Big Band Show, which is touring the UK over the Easter holidays.

Phil will be appearing alongside other kids' favourites including Katy Ashworth, Mr Bloom and Mr Tumble, which is half the fun, given that he describes the CBeebies gang as 'one big family'.

His answer to who would win in a fight between himself and Mr Tumble is met with mock horror and 'we'd NEVER fight – but he does get more attention from the mums than me!'

"I can't wait to get out on tour," Phil tells us. "We start rehearsals next week where we all meet up and learn the scripts and dance moves. The theme is Big Band so there's lots of singing and dancing.


I have to say I do love the dancing – not that it comes naturally! I love doing live shows and seeing the reaction of the kids - and the grown-ups! We really value our audience, and what's great about the tour is that children and their parents can enjoy it as there really is something for everyone.


"The show takes the character traits of the CBeebies presenters - in my case arts and crafts - and puts them all together under one theme. This time it's music so we will be 'making' a band and instruments. There's audience participation and lots of fun. The shows normally start with character introduction followed by a big ensemble number."

Talking to Phil it's clear that he really is living his dream by working in kids' TV. His energy is infectious, even when he's not in Mister Maker mode. We want some of what he's having!

"I loved kids' TV as a child," he explains. "My idol was Phillip Schofield – who I recently met which was a dream come true! - and I really wanted to do what he did during the broom cupboard years. When I was younger I made up shows and acted them out, then worked as a runner and in production before getting in kids' TV presenting.

"It's such a dream to be on children's TV and to be at the BBC."

Phil is the first to admit he isn't a trained artist, but then with his enthusiasm that really isn't an issue. And it appears his skills behind the camera are as impressive as they are in front of it – he writes the scripts for Mister Maker as well as making the projects.

"I'm not 'trained' in arts but I loved crafts as a child. Mister Maker is a great mix of art and slapstick comedy, which is perfect for me. I write the scripts for the show and then we work with a fantastic art and production team to help shape the activities. When we have a rough plan of the show I lock myself in a room to practise and practise and practise."

And what about when he's not performing - does he get asked to pull a craft out of the bag when out and about and not in Maker mode?

"I occasionally get noticed by children, but mainly it's the parents who clock me. Kids don't tend to recognise me when I'm not wearing the waistcoat and don't have my hair spiked. I'm also 6ft and kids are usually amazed at how tall I am!


The funny thing is that children don't expect me to be out of the television. One the most popular questions I get is 'How did you get out of the TV?!' My response? 'Using a spot of Mister Maker magic!'


"When I was in Hong Kong filming Mister Maker Around The World, a little girl asked me that at a show. After we had finished filming she came up, grabbed my arm and tried to pull me towards a screen, as if she was saying 'get back!'"

They say never work with children or animals, but what about paint, glue and glitter?

"The worst thing that's happened was when we were filming in Hong Kong. Everything was planned to the minute time wise, and we were at a harbour filming a segment. We had to get the shot as the light was fading, but it was the windiest place in the world! And what were we making? Tissue paper pictures.

"The stuff went everywhere! I spent most of the time running around scooping up the materials as we had only brought enough for one take. We had a little boy with us who was finding it hilarious!


The most nerve-wracking thing we do is the Minute Make - it's high stress but great fun.


With time for one last question I ask about THAT waistcoat. Why doesn't he ever straighten it up?!

"It's most certainly meant to be like that!" he assures me. "It was an informed choice by the costume department. The original idea what that everything on set - and everything Mister Maker wears - was made by Mister Maker. So it's homemade!"

Hmmm, we'll let that one slide.

CBeebies Live! The Big Band is touring UK arenas from 5-19 April. Visit Cbeebieslive.com for more details.