Webchat with Doodle-do presenter Chris Corcoran
This is an edited transcript of a sponsored live webchat with comedian and Doodle Do presenter Chris Corcoran on 10 July 2009. To celebrate Children's Art Week, Chris had designed a series of exclusive creative children's masterclasses for Haliborange Shiny School - and he came on Mumsnet to have a bit of a natter and give us some creative ideas for things to do with our children over the summer.
Vitamins | Stick, songs and Rob Brydon | Doodle Do and CBeebies | Stand-up, scripts and spiders
Washersaurus: My question is.....Am I missing the connection between crafts and Haliborange Shiny School's nutritional advice?
ChrisCorcoran: Not at all. Crafts creative, nutrition creative. You need loads of ingredients to make a cup and ball game and you need a load of ingredients to make stuff to stop everything tasting of chicken.
Notwavingjustironing: So Chris, to sum up, this is what you need to know: there are probably about 20 MNers lusting after you (apologies if I have missed anyone); technically, we are not interested in spiders, paint, vitamins or glue, and... oh, go on then, I'll ask a sensible question. Do you genuinely think that children benefit from taking vitamins such as Haliborange (I admit to giving them to my children) and, more importantly, why do I spend half an hour getting the "craft" things out, covering half the kitchen with newspaper and shower curtains, only to have them spending precisely two minutes making an absolute mess and professing to be "finished" and "bored". Can you suggest what I am doing wrong? More input from me or less needed do you think? And apologies for my inappropriate comments. It's very hot round here at the moment. Thanks.
ChrisCorcoran: My mum swears by vitamins, especially vitamin C when she has a cold! Saying that, she has no medical qualification whatsoever. I think it doesn't do any harm and, if it gets kids thinking more healthily generally, then I reckon that's a good thing. As for craft projects: more input, definitely, but don't do it for them. Give them heavier things to play with – might not solve the problem but might help with the throwing around.
Stick, songs and Rob Brydon
Dumbledoresgirl: Chris, you made me so happy with your off-the-wall comments on Doodle Do in the days when I watched it (the children could never understand why Mum was so keen to watch the same episode twice in one day!), I would like to ask you if you ever had ambitions to be a singer as your Elvis impersonation was one I will never forget.
ChrisCorcoran: Ha, Dumbledoresgirl! I love singing but I would say that I can hold a note rather than sing – so I reckon my ambition ends at the shower, long journeys and Panto! I love [the Doodle Do puppets] all like they were my own children. No problems with Stick on my leg. There is a fair chance he will grow up to be gay but that's cool; puppets are very chilled out about that kind of thing.
AitchTwoOh: Chris, do you think that Rob Brydon's a bit of a whinge, really? He's very funny and a snappy dresser but you were, like, his nan or something on that Welsh programme. He should give you a job on his next thing. You were very sweet and kind to him (despite the fact that some people might have wanted you to shake him strongly by the lapels and tell him to get over it, he's Welsh and should be proud). Anyway, more grown-up comedy for you? if you don't do it now, you might have to do a Kristen and threaten to get your top off.
ChrisCorcoran: Hi AitchTwoOh. Na, Rob's a great bloke and genuinely is proud of being Welsh. Good fun, that programme. And, yes, more grown up comedy for me – doing a tour of Wales soon with the What Goes On Tour Stays On Tour tour, regularly do Chris Corcoran's Committee Meeting show in Pontypridd and writing a second series of my sitcom Those That Can't for BBC Radio Wales now. Well, not right now - I'm doing this. Didn't watch Kirsten's top-off show – seen them too many times before! It's how she says hello.
RealityisMyOnlyDelusion: Chris, which one of the puppets is your favourite? It's Stick, isn't it?
ChrisCorcoran: Yep, Stick is a star.
Doodle Do and CBeebies
Grumpyoldcaaaaaaa: Were you always into arty stuff or did you feign interest to get a job working with spider puppets (it must have been a very tempting prospect, having your leg felt by puppets)? What was the draw with Doodle-Do - the puppets, the attic or the chance to encourage children to get 'doing stuff'? Do you think there is sufficient arts teaching going on in schools or has it rather fallen by the wayside, along with PE? Were you envious that Rhod Gilbert was chosen to be the face of Wales in those Wales Holidays adverts? He got to go mountain biking and everything.
ChrisCorcoran: Hi Grumpyoldcaaaaaaa (great name!!!!!). Got GCSE Art grade B - feigned interest from that point on... No not enough art being taught. Or drama, history, PE, politics, philosophy - too much pointless Maths! And, na, Rhod's my mate and only he can look that stupid in a wet suit!
Mildmanneredjanitor: Is Sarah Jane a terrible slut?
ChrisCorcoran: Sarah Jane is a true lady in the Victorian sense of the word!
Morningpaper: I noticed on your Facebook page that you have a picture of the entire Doodle Do crew, who appear to be on some sort of mountaineering jaunt on the top of a mountain. The programme is surely filmed in some sort of student flat in Epping and does not really need global trekking. What was that about then?
ChrisCorcoran: We had budget left over, so they flew us to The Alps to do a Winter Special, where we made a snow-covered mountain out of card, paint and glitter. The resemblance was uncanny. The model was so realistic at one stage, an Austrian tried to ski down it.
Morningpaper: 1. Are you gay? This is important. Lie if necessary.
2. Do you have a girlfriend?
3. Are you interested at all in slightly portly middle-aged women who look a bit like Ronnie Corbett but with yellow hair? (I would prefer a lie here too if needed.)
4. OK, CHILDREN and CRAFT. This is a funny sort of specialist subject for a stand-up comedian. Can you tell me a bit about the day when some chappie or other came up to you and said: "Look, we've got this great idea for a programme, where you live in this house and there are spiders in the attic that do craft activities for children and you go into the attic and play crafts with the spiders"?
5. Do you like children?
6. Do you like craft?
7. Mixing children and craft is HORRIBLE. Have you ever really actually tried this without another grown-up clearing up after you?
8. Stand-up comedians and children's television. Like that Miles Jupp. It seems like a terribly dangerous mix. Don't you find yourself about to make nasty anal-sex gags and then realise that your front row is eight years old and expecting something with a paper plate and wool?
9. Who wrote your Wiki entry? <stern glare>
10. Do you have any idea how tight your trousers appear on that programme? Is there any reason for that or is it just to torture depressed mothers with the thought of your monstrous phallus?
Hi MP! Right then, in order...
1. Not gay.
2. Yes, girlfriend.
3. Absolutely! Bizarrely that is what my GF looks like!
4. All sounded normal to me.
5. Yes. Used to teach and always enjoyed it.
6. Prefer rugby and Sartre.
7. Never tried it, no - I see your point.
8. Of course not - in the same way I never swear in a shop for no apparent reason!
9. No idea - I'd like to know that myself.
10. Yes - all part of the plan. Sorry.
Edam: Chris, why are you the only children's TV presenter who doesn't gurn or act like an over-excited toddler? (This is A Good Thing, by the way; I wish others would follow your example.)
ChrisCorcoran: Thanks, edam. My theory is, kids are just little humans and they don’t need to be spoken too any differently. Don't know why no one else does it. Maybe it helps that I used to be a teacher!
Snice: Chris, is there a fabulous CBeebies Christmas Staff Party every year at which all the presenters get drunk and photocopy each other's bottoms? Or do you all hate each other?
ChrisCorcoran: Hi, snice. No, everyone hates each other. All kicked off last year between the Tweenies and Teletubbies – luckily, Postman Pat was there to calm everyone down by reading loads of junk mail till everyone got bored and went to the bar for Tizer. PS: it's very hard to photocopy someone else's bottom – best thing to do is do your own and then give them the copy.
Ruddynorah: What's the most rubbish make you've done so far? i'd have to say the baby wipe with a peg butterflies were pretty shite. And the best? I'd say those pigs made of milk cartons, followed by your marvellous farmyard play. Genius! Do you love seeing how the kids on the VT bit do their own version of the episode's make? And do you get to script your own voice over for it or does someone write it for you? Cos that bit is hilarious...
ChrisCorcoran: Yep, peg butterflies hands down. Yeah, I improv the commentary – I like that bit too!
JackBauer: 1. OK then, craft boy, what would you suggest for a highly excitable three-year-old and a 21-month-old who likes to chuck and eat things but is a dab hand with a crayon?
2. Why are TV crafts of the 'glue in a nice tippy-overable pot' or 'shallow tray of paint for you to throw' variety? Is it because you don't have to tidy it up?
3. Who comes up with the craft ideas? Is there some sweatshop hell of Blue Peter presenter rejects forced to design objects from the contents of the average bin bag?
ChrisCorcoran: 1. Crayon darts
2. Ha! Yeah, we had runners to do that for us.
3. A brilliant arty called Lizzie who was Mad Lizzie on that other art programme I've forgotten the name of!
Stand-up and spiders
Scrappydoo: This is the best webchat ever! Chris, do you get fed up with people recognising you from a kids TV programme, rather than as a stand-up comedian?
ChrisCorcoran: Na, not really! People are always great and come to gigs having seen Doodle Do, which is great.
Boysarelikedogs: Chris do you agree that boys are like dogs? <tries not to squeeeee with excitement>
ChrisCorcoran: I refuse to reply to someone who has such a bleak outlook towards my gender. Change your name to Dontknowwhatiddowithoutboys and we can talk
InmyheadIminParis: <finally plucks up enough courage to ask a question> Are your chats with the spiders as improv-ed as they seem? Can we cut out the crafty stuff and just have you nattering with the spiders for 20 minutes please?
ChrisCorcoran: Quite a lot was improvised. The intro to show was scripted, the make was all improvised and the performancy bit at the end was half-scripted and half-improvised. The puppeteers were brilliant. I suggested we did more of just me and them chatting on a subject improv-style, as they used to make me howl with laughter. If they did a second series, I think we would have done it.
InmyheadIminParis: WHAT DO YOU MEAN, NO SECOND SERIES?? (sorry for shouting) Surely some mistake? You can tell some of the puppeteers' comments have really tickled you (and us... but that's another story). Please tell us you're going to be doing something else for CBeebies? Or have I missed a huge part of this thread?
ChrisCorcoran: Everything Stick said off camera was funny. I've got a clip of Stick doing Eartha Kitt's song, Santa Baby. He did it off camera on VHS - it's hilarious! I'll get it onto my Facebook fan page for Christmas - if you like Doodle Do, you have to see it. I doubt I'll do anymore CBeebies but never say never.
Lissielou: So which presenter do you fancy?
ChrisCorcoran: Sophie 'posh' thingy who reads the news. And Jeremy Clarkson.
Paisleyleaf: Oh, did Stick et al not get the vitamin gig? I hope there's not been a big fallout about it.
ChrisCorcoran: Puppets don't take vitamins. Different target market.
Dumbledoresgirl: Anyone else wondering what has happens to Stick et al, now that Doodle Do has been scrapped? Are they still in the chest of drawers in your attic, or has your Auntie whoever adopted them? Please don't tell us they are in the back of a BBC props cupboard. Some of our children read over our shoulders, you know.
ChrisCorcoran: Stick got a job on the shopping channel... (ha! Just made myself laugh at that!)
ChrisCorcoran: Thanks everyone, it's been a laugh! I've enjoyed answering your questions.