Top 5: Artists lending their talents to children's TV voice-overs
Featuring Derek Jacobi, Stephen Fry, Arthur Lowe and more
Who would envy the life of the serious actor? All that serious acting they have to do; all the line learning, the getting into character, the understanding and channelling of the character's emotional vulnerabilities and personality traits. It's enough to drive a person mad. Like, heath-wandering-in-a-thunderstorm King Lear mad. So it's no surprise that some of our most respected, classically trained and actors find alternative outlets for their less earnest urges. In honour of Derek Jacobi's upcoming role as King Lear this spring, here's a Top 5 esteemed performers who have also forayed into the world of children's TV voice-overs.
Derek Jacobi – In The Night Garden
With a career spanning more than half a century, and with over 400 performances of Hamlet under his belt, Jacobi, at the age of 72, finally feels he is ready to take on the role of King Lear. Now that he is nearing Lear's textual age, he believes he can connect more deeply with the character, understanding better the effects and consequences of ageing. Fortunately, he had no such reservations about introducing us to the likes of Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy, Makka Pakka, and the Tombliboos in 2007. From 'To be or not to be' to 'Makka Pakka akka wakka mikka makka moo', the best way from Hamlet to Lear is definitely aboard the Ninky-Nonk.
Stephen Fry – Pocoyo
The multi-talented Fry is an actor, playwright, author, poet, journalist, television presenter, Twitterer extraordinaire, and an English language passionista. While at university, his performances with the (now-infamous) Cambridge Footlights troupe propelled him to television success with partner in crime Hugh Laurie. His insatiable curiosity and astonishing memory made him the perfect choice to host smarty-pants comedy quiz show QI, while his wit, charm, and loveable nature have earned him national treasure status. His genuine-sounding laugh and apparently real desire to help the struggling Pocoyo succeed only serve to strengthen his standing as Britain's most loved proper gentleman.
Arthur Lowe – Mister Men
Famous for his role as the snobby, pompous, and blundering Captain Mainwaring in the much-loved Dad's Army, Lowe is the grand-daddy of this voice-over trend, having lent his voice to the Mister Men cartoon series beginning in 1975. He created not one, but two enduring legacies, with Dad's Army being repeated regularly even today and the Mister Men books and cartoons still in full flow and a feature of most people's childhoods.
Derek Griffiths – Mio Mao
Griffiths is an actor, singer, musician, narrator, and director. His many talents have seen him star in adult's TV series, films as both a voice and an actor, on stage in Twelfth Night and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and in several adverts for major companies like Disneyland and Hasbro. The majority of his career was spent working on children's TV shows, first appearing in 1960 on the legendary Play School. He composed the music for the characters from Bod, and voiced Super Ted in the early 80s, before targeting the younger demographic with the claymation Mio Mao.
Ringo Starr – Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends
For some, Ringo's career may start and end with The Beatles. But with the death of John Lennon and now George Harrison putting paid to any chance of a reunion, things must have been looking pretty hairy for Ringo's career, right? Not so. Rather than going down the aged rocker route, as so beautifully demonstrated by one Sir Paul, Ringo made the unusual move of becoming a talking train. And what's not to love about 'Octopus's Garden'?