Wonderfully warm and witty preschool series based on the best-selling books by Rachel Bright launches January 2020
Tamsin Greig (Narrator)
I just love the beautiful paradox of a Love Monster - that he shouldn’t fit in but because of love, because of relationships, he does.Tamsin Greig
How did you get involved with Love Monster?
The good people at Love Monster sent through a breakdown of the characters and an idea of the narrative, and I was able to have a look at the Love Monster books by Rachel Bright and they just looked absolutely charming, so I thought what a perfect opportunity.
What was its appeal for you?
I love the idea of a monster existing in an environment where he doesn’t fit in. In Fluffytown everybody’s cute and has their own energy and purpose and narrative, and Love Monster is this kind of peculiar oddball. He observes the oddness of the world which he inhabits but he also has a best friend who does inhabit that world, so there’s this beautiful relationship at the heart of it about being an outsider but still being loved. I just love the beautiful paradox of a Love Monster - that he shouldn’t fit in but because of love, because of relationships, he does.
Tell us about your role as the narrator.
The narrator is a bridge between the audience and the characters, but it doesn’t just have a narrative purpose - it’s also about the bridge between the conscious and the subconscious. For children watching this it’s a little bit like having a best friend who helps you understand the situations, but also helps you understand what’s going on inside your head and heart that sometimes can be too overwhelming for children.
There is a continued hook that’s used through a lot of the episodes where the narrator says: “Love Monster was so full of feelings that all his words came out at once”, and then Love Monster blurts so everything just tumbles out. I think there’s something profoundly healthy in that acknowledgement that feelings are not foes, they’re friends, and words help children to understand those feelings and to give them shape and meaning. Then the feelings stop being monsters; the feelings can become friends that you hang out with, so the narrator helps both the children and Love Monster because the narrator is a kind of internal, interior parent to Love Monster and helps when he’s thinking: “Maybe that’s what’s going on…” The narrator knows what’s going on but is so involved with the character of Love Monster that it’s almost like the narrator is experiencing it with him - in the way parents often do, where the child’s feelings leak into the parent so the parent feels stuff that the child is feeling because they’re so rooted in that love relationship. So the narrator is a kind of parent, therapist, best buddy, compatriot, judge figure who’s always on Love Monster’s side.
What do you think children will enjoy about the show?
I think children really love characters, there are great characters, such as Bad Idea Puppy - just that as an idea, because as human beings, we’re really all Bad Idea Puppies! Tiniest Fluffiest Bunny is this bundle of energy and potential; then there’s the slightly zen character of Elder Panda; and Book Cub - any show that champions reading is a good thing in my mind. So you have this beautiful collection of characters who each have their own narrative thrust and internal energy which I think children can relate to. You’re going to identify with one of those characters, and I think every child knows that in some way they’re a Love Monster; children know that they’re supposed to be loved, love is supposed to be the ultimate driving element, and yet sometimes our monsterness can get in the way of that.
Do you have a favourite character from the series?
I’m very keen on Love Monster; I love the fact that a lot of what he does is non-verbal - it’s thoughts and ideas and responses. I think what’s really at the heart of the show is a child’s ability to respond in a situation and Love Monster totally encapsulates that - how are you going to respond to life as it is thrown at you and as you throw yourself at it - so it’s that kind of collision of experience, of what you want from life but what life is going to hit you with.
Love Monster always starts a new day with hope, he’s never defeated. Things always get difficult in each episode but because of the little community of friends that he has, and particularly his best buddy Tiniest Fluffiest Bunny, he finds a way through. So I suppose for children it’s about embracing that your ability to respond to something is your responsibility.
You work across stage, big and small screen and radio, so how does this type of voice work compare and what do you enjoy about it?
I love the voice [work] because of its intimacy, it’s a bit like when you listen to a radio play, or a podcast or audiobook, it’s almost like an internal voice so there’s something deeply intimate about it. When everything else goes away and it’s just the voice, there’s something very spare about it which means that it can express everything without interruption or distraction.
What were the books you most enjoyed reading when you were young?
I remember loving Where The Wild Things Are, which I found really thrilling but also terrifying, so I had to go towards that one with caution. I don’t remember being read to as a child because of having parents who were working, so I really started to love books when I was just reading on my own. There was an Enid Blyton book - even though Enid Blyton was really frowned upon when I was growing up - called The Magic Faraway Tree and the best thing about that was at the top of the tree there was a new world every day, so every day you could go in and investigate - but you had to get out of the tree by the end of the day otherwise you’d be trapped! I thought that was thrilling, and all the Narnia books - it’s a similar thing, by going through the wardrobe or going to the top of the tree, there is wonder out there, which really is an expression of what’s inside.
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