He’s the TV hero of millions of pre-school children worldwide as Mister Maker but Phil Gallagher can walk down the street unrecognised.
Phil’s starring in the live version of Mister Maker and The Shapes in Sheffield this week.
He said: “Mostly when I’m out and about, if I’m not wearing the spotty waistcoat and Mister Maker jacket, it’ll be parents who spot me.
“The great thing is that the children really believe the show and see Mister Maker as their friend, so they won’t expect to see me outside the theatre or watching the TV show.
“Sometimes they’ll ask ‘how did you get out of the TV?’ I normally say it’s a bit of Mister Maker magic.
“Once, when I was in Hong Kong, the children asked me that. At the end of the performance, one child grabbed me by the hand and led me to the back of the room towards a TV, saying ‘get back in’!”
Phil said that the show started in 2007 on CBeebies to inspire little ones to get creative. “The whole idea was to have a central character that was entertaining, funny and colourful.”
The result was Mister Maker, starring Phil and featuring the popular dancing Shapes.
Phil has been working on the seventh series that will be seen early next year. He said: “The show has taken off across the UK on the CBeebies channel and is shown in 100 countries around the world.
“We wanted to do the live show to bring everything kids enjoy about watching Mister Maker to the stage. Everything is bigger and there is a lot of music and songs and dance.
“We do a lot of things never seen before and there’s a fantastic cast on stage. There’s lot of children’s songs and pop songs and we’re putting our Mister Maker spin on them.”
Phil said that the Shapes have been a phenomenal success. “They’re a small part of the TV show, they only feature for two minutes in every episode, but they get a lot more time on the live show.
“You can see the kids can’t believe that they’re there.”
He added: “We’re trying to do things that haven’t been done before, like getting children and grown-ups up on stage. There is a panto feeling to the show and every single person who comes will be asked to contribute towards a big picture we make on stage. ”
The show is produced by Evolution, the company behind the popular Lyceum pantos, run by former TV presenter Paul Hendy and his wife Emily. Paul also directs.
Phil said: “I love kids’ TV and I’m passionate about making it and children’s theatre. If I work until I’m 65 in kids’ TV, I’ll consider myself very lucky.”
Mister Maker is at the Crucible tomorrow and Saturday. Box office: at the venue, call 0114 249 6000 or go online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk.