Kids’ TV presenter Chris Jarvis on what he loves about Surrey

Chris Jarvis

Chris Jarvis - Credit: Archant

Children’s TV presenter Chris Jarvis tells Simone Hellyer about his new radio show for kids and what he loves about living in the county

What is your earliest Surrey memory?

Visiting my cousins in Cranleigh back in the 1970s. At that time, before the M25, we lived in Essex and the journey took the best part of three hours. Although, I’m sure it can still take three hours on a bad day today!

My parents were smart drivers and – in the days before sat navs – used a compass and map to veer off congested roads and dodge the many traffic jams.

It also meant we saw more of the countryside. I remember how green Surrey was compared to Essex and how there is a clear Green Belt between London and the county

You’ve been part of CBeebies since it started – what do you love about kids’ TV?

I started work for the BBC in 1993 and since then I’ve presented for all ages including Playdays and Show Me Show Me for pre-schoolers, as well as Jungle Run and Fully Booked for older children and teenagers.

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What is your latest project on the channel?

In a few weeks’ time we shall be in the Bard’s county rehearsing the next CBeebies Shakespeare play. We’ve already filmed The Tempest and Midsummer Night’s Dream – I take my hat off to the writers and producers who adapt these for the preschool audience.

As well as being entertaining, they help blow away the cobwebs and make Shakespeare’s work relevant and accessible.

And you also present a show on Little Radio – what can listeners expect from your show?

Little Radio is a brand new station for families and young children. Our main aim is to introduce young ears to all kinds of music and present both new and traditional British nursery rhymes, stories and songs.

I pop up in the morning but other well-known voices from the world of children’s TV appear on the station too. It’s a not-for-profit service and is free to use online or via a brilliant dedicated app.

You did your most recent panto in Swindon – what keeps you taking to the stage year after year?

I absolutely adore pantomime and I cannot imagine Christmas without it! My family is extremely kind allowing me to do it every single year. Like CBeebies, it’s the variety of entertainment within a panto that appeals most; I get to sing, dance, act and play the comic.

My first professional panto was at the old Civic Hall in Guildford with Jack Douglas, Bernie Nolan and Clare Buckfield and Richard Gibson. Richard and I became great mates and were back together in panto last year in Poole.

Where do you go to unwind in Surrey?

I’m a bit of a foodie so any great restaurant, and fortunately there are loads around here. However my cousin, Joss, is the world’s greatest cook so lunch or dinner round her house in Guildford trumps even the finest eatery.

Favourite place to spend time with the family in Surrey?

Most definitely visiting Wisley. We never tire of strolling around this paradise; visiting the butterflies in spring, the craft shows and all the innovative events staged throughout the year.

It’s incredible watching all the new areas being planted – and the new entrance building and café is perfect.

Where is the one place in Surrey that you recommend to friends?

The Rural Life Centre, near Farnham. There’s so much to see and it’s perfect for every age. I’d also recommend visiting the Silent Pool gin distillery. It’s not very big and there’s not a lot to see, but the storyteller who guided us through the process was fantastic. Plus you get to try the gin!

I’m never happier than when I’m…

Asleep. Or in the garden with friends and family, having a lazy afternoon or evening (both if it’s going well).

When all my family was in good health I used to hold a party every summer. I urge everyone to do the same and create lots of happy memories. Don’t wait for weddings or, worse, funerals to get everyone together.


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