Saturday 26 May 2012

Our latest celeb interview with ... Helena Dowling !

Well, we seem to have been schmoozing with the stars a lot lately here at The Madhouse ! After posting up our interview with the grrrr-geous (!) Bear Grylls (see here if you missed it) and coming up with some questions for another mystery celeb that I'll tell you about soon, I caught up with with the lovely Helena Dowling again, who is fronting the Help Dora Help campaign (that I told you about here last week) for the second year running. (We got to ask her some questions this time last year too, that you can read here.) You can also see Helena hosting Wake Up World on Nick Jr.


Hi Helena. The fabulous Help Dora Help campaign has just kicked off for the second year running. Are you excited to be involved with that again?
Yes absolutely - it is fantastic to be involved in such a brilliant campaign. All the children have lots of fun work with the activity packs and the prize fund can make a huge difference to the nursery it is awarded to. This year’s winners have created an amazing outdoor play area which will benefit those children and the whole community massively. So yes it is great to be on board.
Last year saw some fabulous entries from nurseries and pre-schools. What do you think made the winner really stand out from the others?
Hope Nursery in Belfast won last year. Their proposal and creative entry was enough to get them to down to being one of the five finalists but it was up to the public to decide who ultimately won. What I think helped Hope was that they were able to rally the support of their community. Local media gave their application a lot of coverage and encouraged people to vote. It was wonderful that the community got behind the nursery and that support is continuing now that their outdoor play area has been built.
How did they spend their prize money?
 Hope used the award to build an outdoor play area. The funds allowed them to enhance the landscaping that was already there and also build new educational and play features such as a puppet theatre, garden, sand and water area.
The kids must have been really excited to see the life-sized Dora ! Were there any funny moments?
Yes there were, it was so sweet. The nursery staff  had warned me that some children may be a little scared as the life size Dora is pretty massive actually, especially to a three year old! But they all loved her. In fact they loved her so much that they tried to climb up on her to try and get backpack and map. That was really funny  - they sort of had a little deal with each other who would get to take  a peek in the back pack first. They also loved giving her cuddles. They did become a bit upset when she was about to leave though, so I told them that she was  going to meet Boots and she would see them later on TV. They didn't seem to mind so much then.

So what have you been up to apart from the Help Dora Help campaign? I hear you've been getting up close and personal with Take That *swoon*! That must have been an amazing experience!
I toured with Pet Shop Boys for over a year on their world tour and we were asked to support Take That on their ' Progress' tour last year. It was an incredible experience to be on that stage at Wembley in front of 80, 000 people and visiting different countries for the rest of the tour. The atmosphere is electric and everyone was waving and screaming. I loved performing the choreography and singing to such a huge audience. I am still gigging with Pet Shop Boys now after starting the tour in 2010, it is a really great show.
We hung out with Take that backstage and at the wrap party and they are genuinely down to earth and lovely guys. Robbie is particularly funny and would pop into our dressing room to say hi with his dogs.  The first few times I was star struck but he's really easy to chat to so I soon relaxed. They are just as dreamy in real life too! Jason is pretty yummy.
How long have you been dancing? 
I have been dancing for 14 years. 

What would you say if you were asked to appear on one of the TV dancing shows like Strictly? 
Yeah it would be great, I have never trained in Latin or ballroom as such so it would be lovely to learn it and the costumes look amazing. I would love it and definitely say yes!
 You're totally multi-talented - children's TV presenter, singer, dancer, actress ... Was that what you always dreamed of being when you were a child? And how did your parents and teachers react when you told them what you wanted to do?
I always dreamed of being an actress when I was a child and I joined every drama group, choir, orchestra and dance troupe I could manage. My parents weren't surprised at all as I was always putting on little 'plays' for them in the living room and making all my aunts and uncles sit through hour-long epic stories involving me and my toys and my little sister when she would join in! My teachers were great too and even coached me for my stage school auditions, Michelle Shuttleworth in particular was massively influential, she herself had been an award winning dancer and happily passed on all she knew. 
 My parents have been massively supportive and I'm really grateful to them for letting me realise my vision and not steer me towards a 'safer' career.  
I saw on your twitter feed that you were heading off to Cannes! Did you see any big celebs? You must be used to people getting starstruck and asking for autographs when they see you out and about so was it strange to go and some star-spotting yourself ?!

Cannes was amazing !! Everyone is so glamorous and people dress up all the time.  We went past the Hotel Du Cap and I thought I heard Brad shouting for me to come to dinner but can’t be sure! HAHA. It was just an amazing experience to soak up the atmosphere and aside from the two days of rain, when the sun was out it was glorious. I didn't really find it strange to be star spotting, to be honest I love a look as much as the next person! Some of the red carpet dresses the French stars were wearing were just beautiful. I'm really into fashion so it was lovely to see the girls dressed up, the men in tuxes and we had some fabulous boat parties.
When you're not busy working, what's your idea of the perfect Sunday? 
 I  am getting really into yoga and pilates recently so I try to do a class and then chilling out with family and friends over a roast. 

What else have you got planned over the next year? Any exciting new projects you can tell us about?
I have been writing some children's shows that will hopefully go into production this year although I can't say exactly what they are. It is a very exciting experience so watch this space!!!  I will also be setting up more dance classes for children around London and continuing to dance and choreograph on various projects. 

for more information about the Help Dora Help campaign, see here.

Other blogposts you may be interested in:


  1. I'm ashamed to say that I had no idea who Helena Dowling was until I read this interview and then googled her.
    Even more ashamed because I went to see Take that last year and was completely gobsmacked by the dancers with the Pet Shop Boys, in fact I spent the next few weeks telling anyone who would listen about how amazing the choreography was and how the dancers got dressed and undressed as part of the show.

    1. I'll let you off ... just this once !! LOL ;-)


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