Chidren from Berkshire in Cartoonito’s “BallooniVille”

Interview with David Crofts ‘Mr Baloonie’ from Windsor and Zoe Spurden, the new stars of the latest hugely popular Cartoonito’s children show.

I met David and Zoe in Windsor for a coffee. I knew David very well and was quite used to his jokey ways but Zoe I only met couple of times. She came with her usual warm smile and I was relieved to notice she was just as fun and relaxed off camera as in front of it. I’d met her before as I had been present at a couple of filming days, once at White Waltham airfield and also later on Shepperton Studios. I remember how much the children loved playing with Zoe and making things with David. There was a sense of fun and adventure each time. Today I met the pair to talk about the show itself.

B.W. – Hi David, Hi Zoe! Thanks for agreeing to speak to Berkshire Woman. What great news about BallooniVille, and right here in Windsor, David, you are Mr Baloonie? Tell us a bit about Mr Baloonie and the programme. What is it all about?

David – Well, Mr Balloonie is a magician and a balloon modeller. He also writes and sings songs, they’re usually quite silly, but most of all he’s a balloon modeller getting through over a hundred balloons a day.

David and Zoe

B.W. – David, who came up with ‘BallooniVille’? It’s a great name.

David – Thank you, well the BallooniVille is a place, think of it like a wonderland where everything’s made from balloons, from everyday objects to the aeroplanes in the sky, farm animals, the cars, the bikes, the toys, you name it, they’re all balloons – that’s why it’s BallooniVille.

B.W. – Zoe what is your role in the show?

Zoe – I’m Mr Balloonie’s assistant. I help the children make simplified versions of Mr Balloonie’s balloon creations. Each show has a different theme and I also get to take the children out to many different fascinating locations, relevant to the theme of the show.

B.W. – Who created this show? Whose idea was it?

David – It’s been years in the thinking and the making and the planning, I hope you do all enjoy it and it has been worthwhile! It’s been tremendous teamwork, myself and my partner Snezana Danilovic worked together on this with 2sidestv, our wonderful production company, headed by our producer Catherine Robins.

B.W. – David, tell us a bit more about the technology employed to make the balloon characters speak and play?

David – That’s right, as well as the live action parts of the show there are stories told with animation. Puppet shows and animation are of course nothing new but this is ‘Balloonimation’ – animated balloons – in the past we developed some techniques to allow the balloon models to move effectively as puppets, with the help of Talk to the Hand Productions. From then on, the characters were brought to life, including the voices, by a fantastic, experienced and dedicated team of puppeteers led by Francis Wright, Rebecca Nagan and Sheila Clark.

David and some Berkshire children

B.W. – The children seemed to have had great fun making the show. Tell us a bit about what they learned in the course of the first series and what are the young viewers likely to learn from watching it?

David – The young audience will learn all sorts of things about the world around them as seen through balloons and balloon models, they’ll also develop their art and craft skills, particularly (but not only) balloon art! They’ll learn about planets, the circus, underwater life and much more, we cover so many topics throughout the series. They’ll also learn a new song everytime!

ZOE – BallooniVille is a colourful and exciting way to learn and have fun at the same time! Each show has a theme e.g. pirates, so as well as getting to be creative with the balloons themselves we also went to visit a real pirate ship where we learnt all about how pirates lived! BallooniVille is such a great way to stimulate a child’s imagination and creative skills as well as them learning without even realising!

B.W. – The big news for us here in Berkshire is that you had lots of children from Windsor in the show, is this true?

David – That is correct and that is indeed the big news here – we had hundreds of wonderful helpers on the show, all children from Windsor and surrounding areas, they are the true stars of the show and were brilliant to work with; they did a great job learning balloon modelling which is not easy at the best of times let alone under the bright lights of the studio and in front of the camera. Zoe is a great helper for them, encouraging them and showing them what to do.

Zoe and some balloon fruit

B.W. – How many shows have you made so far?

David – This is our first series, we’ve made 26 episodes so far – hopefully we’ll make many more

B.W. – Where can we see the show? Which channels and what part of the day is it usually screened?

David – The show has been aired during March and April on Cartoonito, that’s Sky 619 and Virgin 706. It will be appearing again so look out for it in the listings and with lots of repeats so no excuse for not picking up our expert balloon modelling instructions and having a go yourselves at home.

B.W. – Can Berkshire Woman report when you start making the next series? Will we be invited to interview the participants?

David – You certainly can and I hope to get some balloon modelling top tips and instructions to you in the meantime.

B.W. – Thanks David, I think I might need it!

To see BallooniVille go to Sky 619 and Virgin 706.

(by Billie Krstovic)

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