Friday 15 July 2011

Our exclusive interview with Nick Jr. presenter Helena Dowling

I was just telling you (here) our exciting news here at The Madhouse that we've been picked to be Nick Jr ambassadors - cue much excitement ! Well, our first extremely exciting mission was to interview Nick Jr. presenter Helena Dowling, who is one of the judges for the fabulous Help Dora Help Campaign, which will see one nursery or pre-school awarded a grant of up to £20,000. The closing date for nominations is 22nd July so don't miss out - click through on the Dora badge at the top of my sidebar. For more information, read my blogpost here.

Now, let me get my journalist hat on. Here comes our exclusive interview with the lovely Helena !


Hi Helena, I've already told my readers about the Help Dora Help campaign and encouraged them to get their nurseries and pre-schools signed up but how has it all been going behind the scenes ? Have you been busy ?

Yes I have been really busy and involved from the beginning of the campaign which started in May. I had a lot of fun producing the promo which aired on Nick Jr. channel and website and radio advertisements promoting the campaign. This week I have been talking to regional radio stations and mummy bloggers, like yourself, to get the word out about the campaign and encourage more pre-schools to enter.

A highlight for me was visiting a nursery in Westminster with Dora. The kids loved her and had a great time putting things into her backpack. They really enjoyed doing the activities from the Help Dora Help activity pack too. It was great to see them having lots of fun playing and being creative.

We have had lots of really fantastic entries from nurseries, playgroups and pre-schools so far, I am looking forward to judging them on the panel in a few weeks time. There is still time to enter. Entries close on the 22nd July, so get your nursery to visit and register.

As a member of the judging panel, can you give us a sneaky idea of what you'll be looking for ? What do you think makes a great pre-school environment?

We will be looking for entries that are creative and that show us the children have been really involved in. We will also be looking at the award bids to see if the staff and children will gain genuine advantage by the improvements suggested and also if these improvements provide a greater opportunity for development and learning.

What are your best and worst memories of pre-school and infant school when you were small?
I remember a lovely trip I went on at nursery to a farm. We all got eggs to take home. I cooked the egg at home with my mum and I remember it being the best scrambled egg I had ever tasted!

The worst memory I have was catching chicken pox!

All three of my kids have been huge Dora the Explorer fans. What do you think makes her such a popular character? And why do you think she was picked as the role model for this campaign?

Dora is a loved and trusted character for pre-schoolers and their parents across the country. Pre-school children relate to Dora and love to play along with her and her friends. Her key characteristics of observation, exploration, problem-solving and adventure with her friends are well placed for providing early years support in pre-school settings. The Help Dora Help programme has been created by educational specialists to tie in with the teaching of Early Years Foundation syllabus bring exploration and creativity to life in nursery and pre-school settings and the activities in the pack encourage children to use their imaginations, solve problems and go on an adventure, they can even learn Spanish, just like Dora!

I went into a nursery in Westminster with our life-size Dora character and the kids loved her. They really enjoyed doing the activities too from the Help Dora Help pack. It was great to see them having lots of fun playing and being creative with the activities. I hope loads more pre-schools register for Help Dora Help so they can have fun with the free activities too, and also get a chance to be awarded funds of upto £20,000 to use in their nursery or pre-school.

Dora wasn't around when we were growing up so what were your favourite kids TV programmes when you were little?

I really liked Rugrats on Nickelodeon, and also Button Moon and Through the Dragon’s Eye. I also like Hart Beat with Tony Hart, especially the gallery bit where they showed the pictures kids had sent in.

Being a presenter on Nick Jr. sounds like a dream job. What's that like ? Is it something you always wanted to do?

Yes it is a dream come true for me. There are so many parts of being a presenter on Nick Jr. that I love. I really enjoy the shoots for Wake Up World and being able to present information to kids in a fun and informative way. The Nick Jr. team are great fun, we have a really good time when shooting and I am able to bring in my experiences of dancing, singing onto set and join in the creative process of shaping the script. I really enjoy working people who have the same focus as me – creating some amazing shows for kids. I also spend a lot of time with children, especially my little cousins who I can play for days with (I am still in touch with my inner child) and I love to see their reactions to the programmes and the work I do.

Thanks !

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