After teaching a recent TV presenting course I was asked by a thirty something if he was too old to be a children’s TV presenter.
It depends how you connect with your viewers and which target audience you are aiming for.
Some wonderful TV shows for younger viewers feature more mature casting including James Bolam in Grandpa in my Pocket, and Lynda Baron in Come Outside – both shown on CBeebies.
CBeebies is the channel for viewers under 6 years, their presenters tend to be maternal, paternal, aunt or uncle figures who can reassure the viewers whilst entertaining them. Popular and long-lasting CBeebies presenters include Justin Fletcher (Mr Tumble) Chris Jarvis and Pui Fan Lee who are all mid-forties and have presented children’s programmes for around 20 years. Justin Fletcher was made MBE in 2008 for services to children’s broadcasting, and won a BAFTA Award for Children’s Presenter in 2012. Currently he presents Something Special and Justin’s House, and Chris Jarvis and Pui Fan Lee present Show Me Show Me.
CBBC is aimed at children from 6 to 12 years, although older children watch the shows. Their presenters tend to be youthful, sometimes looking like teenagers themselves. Current popular presenters include Blue Peter’s Lindsey Russell, Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes from Sam and Mark’s Big Friday Wind-Up, Scrambled’s London Hughes, Arielle Free, Luke Franks and Sam Homewood, and Katie Thistleton from CBBC presentation.
Children’s TV presenter Gemma Hunt demonstrates how to move successfully between the different children’s channels. Gemma studied Media Performance at the University of Bedfordshire and as soon as she graduated she started presenting with CBBC – her many credits there include Xchange, Barney’s Barrier Reef and Bamzooki. In 2013 almost 10 years after joining CBBC, Gemma moved to CBeebies to present Swashbuckle the pirate themed pre-school game show. In 2015 Swashbuckle received a BAFTA for Best Entertainment show at the Children’s Awards and filming has just finished on the fourth series. As a young presenter, fresh out of University CBBC was the natural home for Gemma, and as she matured her style was ideal for CBeebies.
Different audiences demand different presenting styles, as ever, it’s about knowing your brand. So, my answer to the question, am I too old to be a children’s presenter? You’re never too old to be a children’s TV presenter!