Meet Nanny Plum
You may not know her face, but many mums (and tots) will know her cheeky voice. We catch up with Sarah Ann Kennedy, aka Nanny Plum and Miss Rabbit!
How did you become Nanny Plum and Miss Rabbit?
A while back I created Crapston Villas, an animated TV series, so knew people who were producing Peppa Pig, and they were looking for someone to voice Miss Rabbit. At first it was just one or two lines, but the writers kept putting her in more episodes. The same people wrote Ben and Holly and I tried out for a few characters with them and got Nanny Plum.
Who do you prefer playing?
I like both. I don't change my voice for either of them, but I change my acting. Miss Rabbit is a bit more gung-ho, she's a give-it-a-go type of character, even if she gets things slightly wrong. She's also very enthusiastic about her many jobs, which I quite like. Nanny Plum, on the other hand, is quite rude, more like an older sister than an adult, and she can be a bit naughty. I like the sophisticated humour of her character. She's a rebel, a bit anti-authority and even sulks, but is very loyal to Holly. I like that.
Are you similar to them?
I think if you play any character you draw from experiences in your own life. I've had lots of jobs where I think 'I'll give it a go' like Miss Rabbit, and I was a bit rebellious and naughty at school – I had a twinkle in my eye – just like Nanny Plum.
Has your voice ever been recognised?
It has, actually! I used to take my daughter to ballet and the teacher took me aside one day to tell me I sounded just like Nanny Plum. She was so shocked when I told her I was Nanny Plum – mainly because she thought I should be living in Hollywood rather than taking my daughter to ballet class.
Does your daughter like hearing you as Nanny Plum and Miss Rabbit?
She loves it, and in fact she does a little voice in Peppa Pig too – she does the 'goo goo ga ga' sounds of Miss Rabbit's children. She loved seeing her name in the credits at the end.
Did you ever realise how big Peppa Pig would become?
Peppa is huge! I wrote a bit of it and I remember all of the team having Champagne when we'd finished the first series, as we were really excited it was getting off the ground. But we never thought it would do so well, would be so massive, and would appeal to so many children.
Why do you think Peppa is so successful?
The writers always said from the beginning that they wanted it to be like a soap opera for children, with subjects that children can relate too. When Peppa falls out with her best friend, children understand what is happening. The writers get that kids' lives don't have the complications of adult lives, so the small stuff becomes really important. Of course everything is told with a sense of humour – and they are brilliant storytellers.
Which kids' TV programmes do you remember from when you were a child?
I'm quite old so my favourite was a programme called Mary, Mungo and Midge, which no one else ever remembers! It was all set in a tower block with a brilliant view, which I thought was amazing because I grew up in a leafy part of Stratford-Upon-Avon.
It is true that you created Peggy Mitchell for EastEnders too?
Yes! Many moons ago, I worked for EastEnders, researching and writing scripts. They wanted another character, a protective mother of two thugs. I said I'd write it as I thought it was really interesting to have this loud, powerful figure who her thug sons were a bit scared of. I put in a bit of my mum (who I'm also a bit scared of!) and added a bit of flirtatiousness, and Peggy Mitchell was created. We always wanted Barbara Windsor to play the part, so I was really pleased when it happened.
What's new in Ben and Holly's Kingdom?
There's a new, free app – Ben and Holly's Elf and Fairy Party – that might just help over Christmas, especially if you're travelling with little ones. It's inspired by familiar episodes of Ben and Holly, and children can design their own wands, horns or hats and conduct the elf band to get everyone in a party mood. There are lots of fun surprises and even jelly floods to watch out for. The DVD has ten new episodes including one where Lucy (a little girl) has an elf and fairy big party and Ben and Holly are mistaken for toys...
How will you be celebrating Christmas?
I'll be at home with my family. We're having everyone at ours, which is exhausting, but lovely, too. I can never quite manage to serve the Christmas dinner at 1pm like my mum wants; it's always more like 3pm when we eat...