When news happens text pix and video to 80360. Start your message with BE then leave a space.
Keeping the children happy - meet Chris Jarvis
It isn’t every day a TV presenter offers to buy you breakfast, but here I am in a Bournemouth hotel, being plied with all sorts of goodies by CBeebies’ Chris Jarvis. He’s up and down to the buffet, grabbing me this and that, despite me insisting I have already eaten.
Surrounded by food he is in his element.
“I’d be the size of a house if I didn’t go to the gym every day,” he confesses with a voice wracked with mock scandal.
“Some people eat to live, I live to eat!”
Chris, who lives on Bournemouth’s East Cliff, has been a stalwart of CBeebies since its launch in 2002, alongside current Show Me Show Me copresenter Pui Fan Lee.
Kids love the TV show with its magical playroom filled with toys, while adults approve as it gives more than a slight nod to the Play School of their own childhoods.
“Some of the people working on Show Me Show Me were involved in the original Play School,” says Chris. “The people working there are like walking encyclopaedias. All that knowledge!”
Chris and Pui bring their roadshow to Bournemouth’s Pavilion on August 26.
Pre-schoolers can expect all the usual Show Me Show Me toys, together with plenty of sketches, songs, rhymes and audience participation.
“It’s going really well,” says Chris. “It’s like the TV show but on stage. We’ve taken it all around the country but it will be special bringing it to Bournemouth – to my home town.”
Chris talks about his co-presenter Pui with real affection and respect. As well as a good working relationship he is godfather to one of her sons.
“We work well together because she is a trained actress and I’m a variety artist,” he explains. “We also have a different approach to things.
“She is understated, I’m a bit more boingy. She is Pooh to my Tigger....”
So what exactly is behind that boingy exterior? Well, a boingy interior. I was half expecting to be spoken to like a pre-schooler, but with a genuine interest in others, a broad cultural intelligence and wicked sense of humour, Chris Jarvis is just about as good company as anyone could wish for.
He would be the first to say otherwise.
“I’m quite boring really,” he says, back again now with coffee and pastries. “In my spare time I like to do a bit of DIY or gardening or walking. I go to fetes whenever I can. If I wasn’t so busy I’d love to have more opportunity to explore the New Forest and become a He’s mad on Art Deco, is obsessed with food and would love to be a twitcher. Ahead of his Bournemouth show for little ones, Maria Court asks – please Show Me Show Me the real Chris Jarvis feature Keeping the children HAPPY twitcher. I’m a member of the National Trust, I love nosing around properties.
I’m obsessed with Art Deco. Your Daily Echo building in Bournemouth is one of the best examples in the country.
“And did you know that the Pavilion theatre was really ahead of its time with a centralised vacuum system...”
Despite the dusty topic, Chris is anything but. For starters, break him in half and you’d see the word comedy running right through him.
From a young age he wanted to make people laugh, to entertain. Romfordborn Chris used to work at Butlins. “I was there before they improved everything. It was all fag stains and dart boards – but the sites are good now.”
He was always in pantos as a kid, always impersonating teachers.
Nowadays he watches a lot of TV comedy, his favourite shows being The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family.
“Technology changes, fashion changes, but children have always engaged with comedy,” he says. “Pre-schoolers are hilarious. They are great comedians.”
With Show Me Show Me Chris feels he is more of a teacher than an entertainer (following in the footsteps of his mother who was was a pre-school teacher).
“We have curriculum bibles. Everything is balanced subject-wise.”
The 43-year-old presenter is as busy behind the scenes as he is in front of the camera and has been the brains – and the pen – behind many a CBeebies song and script. One of these – Old Jack’s Boat, starring Bernard Cribbins – was inspired by a ‘fantastic walk around Hengistbury Head’.
Currently, his notepad is filled with ideas and musings about this year’s Panto, Aladdin, at Bournemouth’s Pavilion Theatre in which he stars and directs.
“I feel a fraud when I say I’m writing it,”
he laughs. “Some of the jokes are about 100 years old. It has been done a lot but I want to come up with the best script, so I’m tweaking it.”
Starring alongside him will be Bobby Crush as Widow Twankey and Eastenders’ (and Strictly’s) Scott Maslen as the evil Abanazer.
“As well as a great set, the actors know their stuff. It’s important to pick people who like Bournemouth, as a panto reflects the area. I have to make sure everyone wants to be here.”
That Chris himself wants to be here there is no doubt. He fell in love with Dorset after being brought to the area on visits to his granny in Salisbury, and a stint at the Pavilion Theatre.
“My uncle moved down in the mid-’80s and it was a case of all roads leading to Bournemouth. With so many happy memories it was a no-brainer and I have lived here for 10 years very happily.
“I’m really lucky to be doing what I do. I love my job, I love the audiences and I love Bournemouth.”
Chris has a bit of advice for children.
“Don’t follow the herd. Be your own person. I was never the cool kid, and I think it’s important for youngsters not to try to be.”
He stares longingly at my pastry and asks: “I’m sorry, but did I just take a bite out of that?
Comments are closed on this article.