Wednesday 26 June 2013, 16:54
The CBeebies Radio series ‘Robin & His Feathered Friends’ is an introduction to birds and birdsong for children. Philippa Forrester presents the series – she popped in to CBeebies to talk about the show and to give us some tips on getting kids into wildlife…
1. Can you tell us a bit about the ‘Robin’ radio series?
The series is based around the main character, Robin. He lives in a garden which he thinks he must protect. In each episode the garden is visited by a different bird and Robin makes friends with them. Over the series he meets the song thrush, blue tit, swallow, seagull, pigeon, duck, crow, woodpecker and tawny owl.
Through rhyming conversations he finds out about their lives, the characteristics of their species, their homes and their babies.
Swallow, for example, tries to teach Robin acrobatic flying and persuade him to come to Africa for the winter.
Pigeon, on the other hand, has come to Robin's garden by train, just for a little break from London town, and explains to Robin how wonderful the city is.
Each episode is funny but also factually correct – yes, London pigeons really do travel on trains!
2. What was your inspiration for making the show?
I realised that so few of us can identify birdsong these days, even those birds we are familiar with. I think it is a lost source of joy. Radio is the perfect vehicle for children to learn birdsong – and, of course, the bonus for parents is that it is quite relaxing too!
3. Why do you think it’s important for children to connect with nature?
I think children are already connected with nature - from a young age they are fascinated by their natural surroundings and animals of all shapes and sizes. It is our job to capitalise on that natural curiosity and teach them the facts about their own observations before any disconnection occurs in later life. I believe if a love and appreciation of nature is nurtured early on, then it will bloom in later life.
4. How did you get interested in wildlife?
I’m not really sure, it was always there. My love for natural landscapes and animals has been such a big part of who I am that I cannot imagine what it is like to be without it. For me that is the real world.
5. Have you got any tips for parents for activities they can do with their little ones to nurture an interest in wildlife?
Just get out there! It doesn’t matter if you take a walk by a canal or lift stones in the garden to check out the bugs. I think the most important thing is making the effort to get out. Lots of children, my own included, have a good moan at the idea of a walk out in the country but once the wellies and mac are on the hard part is over. They always return happy, hungry and tired - with lots of treasures like sticks and shells.
I think interaction with the natural world is a vital part of a child’s development but, as a parent, you don’t necessarily need to ‘do’ very much. If you can help them out with answers to their questions that's great, but the most important thing is enabling them to get out there.
6. How did you enjoy making the radio series?
It was really wonderful. It took a long time to write and research but I loved doing it. Recording it was hilarious. I was nervous because I’m no actor but there was just me, Martyn (technical genius) and Andrew (sound mixer) in the studio and we had such fun playing with accents. I think the characters were all so strong in my mind that it made it much easier to have fun – hopefully that is what comes across when children listen to it too.