Immediately bursting into a jolly melody, it’s hard to shake off the ridiculously catchy opening theme song to Mister Maker. Known to be a shapes enthusiast with a specific talent in arts and crafts, Mister Maker turns anything he makes into gold. The man behind the wonderful craftsman, Phil Gallagher, has a genuine love for his role and it’s clear that he won’t be giving up his paint and glue anytime soon. In this interview, Gallagher speaks to us more about his work on the show, how he maintains his energy for his crazy touring schedule and his secret into being the ultimate arts and crafts hero.
So Phil, we’d like to find out a little bit about your project Mister Maker, and how you became the ultimate arts and crafts hero for kids…
Oh, that’s very kind of you to say. I feel really lucky and proud to be doing what I do for my job. It always sounds like a bit of a cliché, but it’s always been my dream to be a kid’s TV presenter. When I was little, I used to watch children’s television and I loved watching the presenters. I always wanted to do that and as I grew up, I loved performing. Even at home I used to make up puppet shows with my cuddly toys and I wrote little plays, skits and performances for my family. Now, thirty odd years later, I’m doing it for real which is amazing.
That’s great to hear! What initially made Mister Maker an interesting character for you?
When the casting call came out for Mister Maker, it spoke about arts and crafts which is something I have always loved. To be able to create a character that would bring arts and crafts to life in a very comfortable and comical way was a dream come true. These were all the things that I loved and the things that I was interested in, and I think it’s quite unusual for an arts and crafts show as you wouldn’t normally get that kind of comedic side.
That’s absolutely true. You seem so natural in front of the screen. How do feel creating art in front of the camera?
Well, it’s something I personally got used to over the years, yet I’ve always found it quite nerve-wracking. When it comes to arts and crafts, you don’t actually know what’s going to happen [laughs]. I think despite how much you prepare, things don’t go quite how you want them to so there’s always that element with arts and crafts.
I totally agree with that. Could you tell us what’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to make?
That is a really good question because quite often I get ‘what’s my favourite thing?’ or ‘the messiest thing’ [laughs]. We made a painty, sandy mixture in one of the early episodes of Mister Maker. We put paint on to some cardboard to make a picture of a beach and the way that I did it was almost like I was icing a cake but instead of the icing, it was this special mixture made up of paint and play sand; that was one of the hardest things I’ve had to make. Certainly in a TV studio, you have to move so quickly and it’s quite difficult to get the picture to look right under the lights and the studio just gets so hot and I had to make sure everything didn’t melt before I finished, so I had to move really quickly.
Wow. Personally, we love the fake cake and we can’t wait to make that. But, we were always going to ask, what is your favourite thing to make [laughs]?
My favourite thing to make is the pom pom bug. It’s quite special to me and it’s been passed around in our live shows recently. It started off as a minute-make in one of the Mister Maker shows and the idea came about from something I made with my grandad many years ago, but they were slightly different as I made them with cardboard and wool. My grandad taught me how to do that and we used to go to the art shop to buy googly eyes for them and we’d make feet for the bugs and little tails for them. I would put that as my favourite all-time make because it’s so special to me and it reminds me of the lovely times I shared with my grandad.
That’s so sweet. So, what’s the most rewarding aspects of being a children’s presenter?
When I was given the opportunity to become Mister Maker, I would say it was the best day of my life. Being able to travel around the world to do the theatre shows is just beyond my wildest dreams. The fact that so many people come to see the shows makes me and our small Mister Maker team incredibly proud. Whether it’s before or after the show, meeting people who watch Mister Maker and finding out what they enjoy watching and learning about their different experiences is a real pleasure.
So, do you ever have to improvise on the show?
Oh definitely. Some of it has to be pre-recorded so the paint and glue can dry but we try to keep it as real as possible. I practise hard before the start of the series. In terms of the live shows, improvisation is the main part of the show. It’s very interactive and we get to have people take part in it. We normally have a plan for each show but it’s always slightly different because of the lovely audience members that come up and help us.
You’re coming out to Australia in late June and your schedule is back to back. How do you keep up your energy levels for this gruelling and busy schedule?
Believe it or not, it is actually quite a slight schedule compared to some of the schedules we have done in the past. I’m quite used to three show days now. They’re very tough, but to be part of an entertainment show and to be able to go out and perform in front of people is a real privilege. It’s all about the preparation. I just try and keep fit, eat as healthy as possible and drink lots and lots of water.
What’s the weirdest thing a fan has ever done for you?
There was something that happened the other day which has never happened before. At the end of one of the live shows in the UK, a mother actually ran up on stage to give me a kiss on the cheek and then she waved and took a bow and ran off. It’s the sort of thing that you know, you’d expect to see at a One Direction or Michael
Bublé concert [laughs].
So, is there a Mrs Maker?
No, there’s not a Mrs. Maker at the moment [laughs].
How do you juggle having a professional and personal life?
It’s very tricky at the moment, I don’t have much of a social life. I don’t mind putting everything into my professional life. I have to get up early, work long hours and tour around the world but I love it and wouldn’t want it any other way.
Where can My Child readers find out more about you and your show?
Well there’s the Mister Maker website which is the best place for that: www.mistermaker.com There’s also an official Mister Maker Facebook page which will have all the details of all the different shows that we’re doing around the world.