Comedians and children’s TV. It might not, on the face of it, be a marriage made in heaven – comics often use their routines to tackle some pretty controversial topics using the type of language you wouldn’t want your little ones listening to.
But the makers of kids’ television seem to see it very differently, and there’s no shortage of examples of them turning to stand-ups and comedy writers for their voiceovers. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means – do let us know if we’ve missed any that you particularly love!
Alexander Armstrong in Hey Duggee
Alexander Armstrong (perhaps now most famous for hosting TV quiz show Pointless with Richard Osman) has, with his comedy partner Ben Miller, been on the UK comedy scene for years. The sketch show Armstrong and Miller ran for four series on TV, and Armstrong pops up regularly on comedy panel shows. Here he is narrating kids’ show Hey Duggee, which is pretty funny in its own right.
John Sparkes (and more) in Peppa Pig
Welsh comic John Sparkes is another example of children’s TV makers asking a comedian to narrate their show. Peppa Pig, in case you don’t know, is huge. Kids love it. Parents love it. Before landing this role, Sparkes was known in Wales as Barry Welsh, hapless chat show host and main character in long-running comedy Barry Welsh is Coming, and also starred in BBC Scotland’s Naked Video – not to mention his starring role in legendary British sketch show Absolutely. Here he is at work on Peppa Pig.
There are more comedians who have appeared in Peppa Pig too. Panel show regular and writer of Outnumbered, Andy Hamilton, plays Dr Elephant, and Morwenna Banks, who plays Mummy Pig, has starred along side Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer in their sketch series and sitcom, Catterick, and also appeared in Absolutely, The Thick of It, Ruddy Hell! It’s Harry and Paul and Steve Coogan’s Saxondale.
Marcus Brigstocke (and more) in Sorry, I’ve Got No Head
Okay, so no big surprises here. Sorry, I’ve Got No Head is a sketch comedy show for children, so you’d expect to encounter some comedians. Stand-up and TV panel show regular Marcus Brigstocke is one, James Bachman from That Mitchell and Webb Look and, again, Saxondale, is another. Justin Edwards, Anna Crilly, Mel Giedroyc from Mel and Sue…there’s a list here.
Miles Jupp in Balamory
You might know Miles Jupp from his many appearances on just about every comedy panel show. He’s also been on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, and appears as Nigel in the BBC sitcom Rev. However, if you’ve a child under 10, then you probably first encountered him in a fictional Scottish town known as Balamory. Here he is singing a song.
Jackanory (and CBeebies Bedtime Stories)
Ah, Jackanory. Since the 1960s, celebrities have been reading children’s books on television to stimulate kids’ interest in reading. Good on them, we say. The list of comedians who have taken part is huge as you might expect. Angus Deayton, Lenny Henry, Paul Merton, Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Victoria Wood to name but six. Here’s one of our favourites – the wonderful Rik Mayall.
Nowadays, there’s a show in a very similar vein on UK children’s TV channel CBeebies. It’s called CBeebies Bedtime Stories, and it also has its fair share of comic actors and performers. They include Rob Brydon, Mackenzie Crook and, in this video, Michael McIntyre.
Photo by frankie.baldo