Meet the maker - Mister Maker
Mister Maker, aka Phil Gallagher, finds time in between touring his show and moving house to chat to Nifa McLaughlin about his new live show, Mister Maker & The Shapes Live!
How did you become Mister Maker?
I was doing work experience at the Disney Channel as a live studio runner. They had an audition for a new arts and crafts show with a character performer, so I auditioned. I had always done shows for my mum and dad – you know, behind the sofa with cuddly toys – and this was my chance to do it as a job!
Who was your inspiration?
My granddad was the original Mister Maker; he was an amazing carpenter, calligrapher and artist. I remember us going to the art shop together. I think that as a child I'd have loved Mister Maker, and when we come up with ideas I think, 'What would the seven-year-old me like?'
Do you travel a lot as Mister Maker?
The last series, Mister Maker Around The World, meant I did lots of travelling. Mister Maker has really taken off across Asia, and it's televised to over 100 countries. We were in Indonesia doing a live show in a shopping centre, and it was the first time we'd been to Jakarta so we weren't sure how many people would turn up. When I got there, 10,000 were waiting for me!
Tell us about your new live show...
The tour is a fresh take on the Mister Maker format, but will surprise people. Everything's bigger, but it's still reminiscent of the TV show. The core audience is still pre-schoolers, but we wanted the show to appeal to parents, brothers and sisters, and grandparents. I've written the script with jokes in it for adults!
Are you glad The Shapes are in the show?
Everyone loves The Shapes! We did an amazing show at the Sydney Opera House – every time they came on stage the reaction from the kids was enough to lift the roof off! They look vibrant, funny and yet so simple. You get goosebumps when you see hundreds of kids' faces light up watching a live performance, and 100 mobile phones flashing as grown-ups take selfies – that's a sign of the times!
What's the best thing you've made on the show?
The Pom Pom Bug – I first made the bug with my Granddad, so it's really special to me and even makes an appearance in the live show. It symbolises what Mister Maker is all about: it's easy to make and doesn't need loads of materials, just card and wool and of course googly eyes! One of my most memorable shows was when I made a splat picture – I dipped a tennis ball in gloopy glue and bounced it on paper. Gloopy fun and loads of mess – brilliant!
Do people recognise you when you go out?
I do get recognised, and people are always really nice to me. If I'm out of costume it's often the parents who stop me first, then they tell their children that I'm Mister Maker!
Mister Maker & The Shapes Live! is at theatres across the UK from September. Visit mistermakerlive.co.uk