Magic Hands

A groundbreaking poetry series from CBeebies

Interview with Ashley Kendall

Besides there being nothing else like [Magic Hands] on television, it is playful and engaging, and most importantly, educational. I want everyone across the UK to recognise our language and its rich history..."Ashley Kendall
Category: CBeebies; Learning
Magic Hands presenter Ashley Kendall was born in Chester but spent his early years in Thirsk, Yorkshire, before moving to Derby. He now lives in London.

Tell us a little about yourself

I was born and raised in a deaf family. Throughout my childhood I moved around the UK a lot and have experienced a few different deaf schools in my time. This all showed me two career areas I absolutely love now and want to pursue fully: property development and media. At the moment I am working at Remark!, which made Magic Hands. I have learned first hand what it is like to be in a media environment; it has been an invaluable experience.

How did you become involved in Magic Hands?

I have presented for Remark! a few times and saw that they were auditioning for a presenter. I just grabbed the opportunity! Fortunately, having had some presenting experience meant I felt comfortable in front of the camera, so I guess that was that!

What have you enjoyed most about working on the show?

The wonderful creativity and imagination involved in working with these poems and translating them into BSL, and also adapting them for children. The benefits of exposing children to both good literature and creative signing at such a young age can't be understated. I've worked with such a brilliant team - hats off to them all. It's been a huge challenge at times, and we all felt quite daunted, but having seen the final product I know my confidence in the team was spot-on. It looks absolutely brilliant.

What do think about a programme being shown on CBeebies that is entirely in BSL?

BSL is a British language. It is so important for all kids, deaf and hearing, to grow up knowing that. To know that all children around the UK will have full access to this programme, and to know that it's a mainstream show airing on CBeebies is wonderful. It's a true breakthrough to see signing in action this way, which will get kids asking questions and opening their minds.

What do you think children will get out of the programme: those who are deaf and those who are hearing?

For hearing kids, it will really open up their eyes. They will learn about sign language, they will see it being used to tell some great stories, and they will hopefully feel confident around deaf children they might meet. The show can easily start a conversation between kids: as we know kids love new and different visual input and will be keen to see it in real life. For deaf children, the benefits are obvious. A show in their own language increases their confidence and feeling of identity when using sign-language, and it also has English captions so they can see how the words become signs.

Why do you think shows such as Magic Hands are important?

Besides there being nothing else like it on television, it is playful and engaging, and most importantly, educational. I want everyone across the UK to recognise our language and its rich history, and this show is an absolutely perfect way to start.

What are you doing next?

I’m focusing on increasing my media experience. I am also climbing up the ranks in professional construction and am now very interested in property development. I also hope to carry on my love of travelling!