Ten actors I didn’t expect to turn up on CBeebies

10 : Alexander Armstrong – Hey Duggee

Ok, it’s not that surprising that he turned up on a kids’ show. He’s appeared on everything else, from game shows, to sketch shows, to grotesque period farces. It just gives me an excuse to mention Hey Duggee, my favourite CBeebies show of all. The animation is superb, as is the music, and it’s genuinely funny. There are also lots of little references for the grown-ups, such as when Duggee was dressed in the style of Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic.

Hey-Duggee-The-Life-Aquatic

9 : Jason Donovan – Boj

When he was one of the biggest stars of the late 1980s, I bet he didn’t expect to find himself voicing Pops in Boj, one of the more annoying CBeebies shows.

8 : James Bolam – Grandpa in my Pocket

Best known as Terry in The Likely Lads, he’s also in one of my all time favourite films, A Kind of Loving, a bleak but brilliant kitchen sink drama from the early Sixties. Grandpa in my Pocket is somewhat different in tone, but good to know he’s still around.

7 : James Corden – Little Charley Bear

Of course, nowadays he’s too busy performing Missy Elliot songs in a car with Michelle Obama to narrate CBeebies programmes.

6 : Julian Clary – Penelope K, by the way

I didn’t expect to find a man who famously once claimed whilst presenting a BAFTA that he’d been backstage fisting Norman Lamont to find a home on children’s TV.

5 : Roger Allam – Sarah and Duck

You may recognise the face more than the name. He’s been in all kind of things from The Thick of It to Spooks to a couple of Ken Loach films. He may be the only person to have appeared both on CBeebies and in Game of Thrones, although I stand to be corrected. Sarah and Duck is up there with Hey Duggee amongst the best CBeebies shows, incidentally.

roger-allam

4 : David Tennant – Tree Fu Tom

Tree Fu Tom is pretty action packed as CBeebies shows go, but I still didn’t expect Doctor Who to crop up in it.

3 : Lauren Laverne – Tee and Mo

Lauren Laverne was lead singer of Kenickie, one the favourite bands of my teenage years. She’s since become one of the country’s better presenters, but I’ve always hoped she would return to music. Little did I suspect that when she did it would be soundtracking a CBeebies animated monkey show. Still pretty good though:

2. Brian Blessed – Peppa Pig

There’s very little that isn’t made more entertaining by the appearance of Brian Blessed, but Grampy Rabbit might just be the role he was born to play

1. Mark Rylance – Bing

Mark Rylance is generally considered one of the UK’s finest classical actors, and has also won BAFTAs, Tonys and an Oscar. So it’s hard to know what drew him to the role of Flop, a kind of soft-toy carer for Bing, a toddler rabbit. It’s also hard to know why they felt they needed quite such a distinguished actor for this part.

It was especially weird discovering Bing shortly after watching Wolf Hall, in which Rylance also stars. The relationship between Bing and Flop is remarkably similar to the relationship between Henry VIII and Rylance’s Thomas Cromwell. Henry and Bing both charge around, demanding their every whim is satisfied, with little though for the consequences. Flop and Cromwell are the sage counsels, talking them down from their mistakes and excesses.

It’s possible I may be reading too much into this of course.

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