SMILING Sid Sloane is one of the first faces many toddlers gets used to watching on their parents’ TV.
Now the Cbeebies presenter is in Sheffield starring as Jangles, the story-telling jester in The Lyceum’s wonderful Sleeping Beauty panto offering.
Sid admits it’ll be a slightly different Christmas to the one he spent in the city before his BBC career when he was at the other end of the television food chain.
“Back in the days when cable television was the big thing there was a company based in Sheffield who were going round to towns and cities where they had existing British Telecom communications cables on which they piped in cable,” he explains.
“This company would suss out where the areas were and send these guys to go knocking on doors and deliver the product. I’d be the guy knocking on the door selling the package.
“It was the puppy dog approach, give them the product and then take it away and then they really want it. Now I’m selling it from the channel point of view.”
And Sid enjoyed his time working in Sheffield so much he spent Christmas with one of his colleagues.
“I ended up staying in Sheffield for a year because the lads were so friendly. I was footloose and fancy free so I ended up staying for Christmas at one of the lad’s houses, not far from Meadowhall. They took me in as a family member. I had a brilliant time.”
Since then Sid has become a kids TV favourite and previously been back to Sheffield in the noughties appearing in a touring production of Roald Dahl’s The Twits.
He was asked to appear in Sleeping Beauty back in March, having starred as Robin in Robin Hood in Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre last year, another production by Evolution Pantomimes who handle the Lyceum’s panto fixture.
“This outfit is much more bling than the outfit I was wearing last year. It’s bright and happy with gold boots; I think it suits me well,” says Sid, a south Londoner who now lives in Brighton where he windsurfs with his 13-year-old son Josh.
“I’m good inland as long as I know I’m going to get back to the seaside. I didn’t realise how much of a draw the sea is for me in my life. It’s probably because I’ve got such a mad head – it’s a nice calming influence.”
There’s little that is calm about his role in Sleeping Beauty. His third panto, as well being the glue for the story, Sid is responsible for drawing the audience into the action so it often gets to be as loud and funky as his costume.
“I was the slave of the ring once, the genie in the lamp character in Aladdin, and I’m borrowing from that for this part. I’m very interactive in this show. It is me taking the show to the audience and getting them involved.
“That is the buzz. I do personal appearances and go to events and do get to meet viewers all the time and I’m always getting stopped in the street. So I know how well I am being responded to. And, of course, the BBC are very clever at doing their audience research and I get fed back some of the information.
“But there’s nothing like live theatre, as far as I’m concerned. I love the adrenaline and the instantaneousness of being a live performer. That moment; it’s captured and it’s gone.
“Okay I’m saying the same lines or doing the same sort of thing, but the reaction is different because it’s a different audience every time. That’s what I love about it.
“You can never grow out of panto really.
“Every time you get a different show. There’s always something else you find funny.
“And if it’s not a very good show... you can’t fool the kids. If it ain’t good, they aren’t gonna like it. You can’t force them to like a show. That’s what I love about children, they’re so honest in their appraisal.”
Storytelling comes naturally to Sid
IT’S easy to understand why younger viewers warm to Sid Sloane.
His enthusiasm is tangible and he has a demeanour that makes you feel at ease.
But the presenter says CBeebies wasn’t on his radar when he trained to be an actor.
“My dream when I left drama school... I was going to make a few films for six million and spend the rest of my life doing theatre.
“Theatre’s what I love doing but it doesn’t pay a great deal of money – not enough to live off.
“If someone came up to me and offered me a brilliant part with a really good script I could really get myself into and there was no pay, I would probably do it if I could make it work.
“I did that a few years ago with a show in Brighton and it was wonderful thing to do.
“That’s what I went to drama school for.
“But being a presenter is a really cool job because I get paid to be me.
“I’m talking to children and there’s something in there for the grown-ups as well.
“Obviously I’m a grown-up so I’m coming from a grown-up level but I recognise my audience is children.”
And having done it for a while Sid says he is often stopped and asked to sign stuff for some unlikely people.
“There are kids who have grown up watching me to a certain point and still remember me.
“A lot have younger siblings so they watched me for longer than they perhaps would have.
“So I get recognised by teenagers – although it’s really odd, my son’s friends asking me for my autograph.
“I think they’re winding me up, but they’re not.”
In Sleeping Beauty he’s both Sid the storyteller as Jangles and Sid from CBeebies the storyteller.
“They’re getting the Sid they know,” he says.
“I love the element of actually getting to be me.
“It’s weird because I don’t really see myself as a children’s TV presenter, or as an entertainer, I see myself as an actor.
“Luckily I don’t take any of it too seriously.”
YOU may have heard Sid’s dulcets doing voiceovers on Radio 4 BBC schools radio and trailers for BBC shows.
SID has written performance poetry for kids and adults and has performed at festivals, libraries, schools and workshops, and even for a group of MPs.
Sid has performed Shakespeare and in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
HE has a first album out now – a CD of stories available via his website.