CBeebies’ Rebecca Keatley to see other side of screen with baby due

2 hours ago
About sharing

Rebecca Keatley and her partner Jim, pictured in Worthing, are expecting their first child in December
By Natalie Grice
BBC News

For parents across the land, Rebecca Keatley is one of those magical people who can give them a quick breather while she entertains their little ones through the screen.

But soon the CBeebies presenter of 11 years will be viewing the process from the other side, as she prepares to give birth to her first child this winter.

The actress from Port Talbot, who now lives in Manchester where CBeebies is filmed, has seen from “this side of the fence” how important shows like Let’s Play can become to families.

Keatley was interested in working in children and youth television from a young age.

She had an early brush as a teenager, getting down to the final three and a presenting trial after an audition for The Disney Club, which was eventually won by Fearne Cotton.

Rebecca Keatley with CBeebies’s Mr Maker, Mr Bloom and Basil Brush at an event in the summer

She first caught the acting bug from a group of drama students “down the back of the bus” who were “so much fun” on journeys to Gorseinon College in Swansea, where she signed up to do A-levels.

She quickly persuaded her parents to let her also take a BTEC in performing arts, and from there went on to study acting at Mountview drama school in London.

Her move to CBeebies came after a number of years working in theatre, TV dramas and promotions when her friend, CBeebies presenter Andy Day, said she should audition for a new show being made for the channel.

Despite being “a bit late” getting in touch, the producers let her come in and read for the part and she ended up getting the role to work alongside Sid Sloane on Let’s Play, and presenting on the CBeebies House.

Working in children’s television meant adapting to a different way of working for Keatley.

“Before, I would have said the worst thing is that there’s no preparation time,” she said. “It’s low budget, it’s quick content, they want to get stuff out as fast as they can.”

Rebecca, pictured on a cruise to Norway, studied acting in London after leaving Port Talbot

“I used to get very nervous about that because I’d think ‘I need to prepare’,” she said.

“Whereas now, I find it a blessing, because not having time to think and just being spontaneous, quite often you get your best stuff.

“You’re not so precious, and I think that’s something I’m really glad that children’s television has given me.”

The prospect of becoming a parent has given her a different view on the work she produces.

She explained: “Talking to the other cast members who’ve already got children, you know how important it is.

“[They have talked] about how they really treasure the shows and the characters, and how they become part of your family life, so I will have that to look forward to.

“I do obviously get that from being in the business. Meeting families, meeting children, I do get that when I meet them because it is special to be on this side of the fence, and I think I’m going to really, really be thankful for CBeebies when my child comes along.”

Rebecca doing the Halloween CBeebies House with Evie Pickerill

Pregnancy is often a time for food aversions and exhaustion, but for Keatley the opposite has been true.

She has an auto-immune condition which can be triggered by various things, including the make-up needed for television work.

“I’ve got lots of chemical sensitivities, so your body’s having a reaction to lots of foods and chemicals,” she said.

“That was a real issue with the first series of Let’s Play because of glues, moustaches, make-up. It was really hard because I was having all these issues,” she said.

She manages the condition by being very careful about the foods she eats.

Like some others with auto-immune conditions, her symptoms eased with pregnancy.

“The first trimester was amazing, because actually I felt really energised and I was able to eat and drink everything. I felt really good,” she said.

She has had immunotherapy, which involves exposing her to very small amounts of substances she has a reaction to in order to desensitise her system.

Fellow CBeebies presenter Joanna Adeyinka-Burford with Rebecca at the CBeebies Robin Hood panto wrap party, after filming in Llandudno finished

It is an area which has “piqued her interest” for future years.

“I’ve read so many books on it and I’ve been fascinated by gut health for the past 15 years really, how diet affects our well-being and our health and our mental health as well,” she said.

“That’s a path I would like to explore a bit more, for my child’s health and future generations as well.”

With a bookcase “full of books about gut health”, she would consider taking a nutrition course in the future in order to deepen her understanding of the topic.

So, is Rebecca Keatley Investigates the Gut a programme viewers should look out for in a few years?

She laughed, but added: “I am genuinely fascinated by it all, because it’s about helping yourself – that’s where it starts and then before you know it you’re like, this is amazing.

“The human body is incredible and there’s so little we know about it.”

Related Topics

More on this story

25 May 2012
7 February 2022
5 June
6 May 2022
20 August

Around the BBC