Photograph by Richard Budd

Cameron talks to the Daredevil CBBC Star about her Globetrotting Adventures

Naomi Wilkinson is familiar face on kids TV.  Famous for her “Milkshake Shake” and “Silly O’Clock” dance routines, she has worked with  Muppet legend Emo and travelled the world for CBBC’s Naomi’s Nightmares of Nature and BBC2’s Live ‘n’Deadly, where she comes face to face with weird, wonderful and dangerous animals.

Basically, Naomi has the coolest job in Kids TV!

I interviewed Naomi to find out how her high-flying career took off.

How did you become a children’s TV presenter?

I made a short video of myself, called a show reel, that I sent off to numerous different production companies. Thankfully I was invited for an interview and then a screen test at a digital channel called Carlton Kids. I was over the moon when I got the job.

You’re on so many shows, this must be your dream job?

It really is. I count myself extremely fortunate to do what I do for a living. I get to meet some fascinating people, travel to wonderful places and have some incredible experiences.

Have you always been adventurous, even a child?

Yes I think so. I’ve always been someone who has attempted to give it my best shot. My family used to say my catchphrase was ‘I can do it myself, can’t I?’ and I think my determined spirit hasn’t gone away as I have got older.

In CBBC’s “12 again” you said were very uncool but now you have one of the coolest jobs on kids TV! I’m 12 now and have so far wanted to be a palaeontologist, a vet, a sports teacher, scientist – or a TV presenter doing exactly the kind of things you do! Did you already know at 12 what you wanted to be?

I think if you were to follow any one of those careers you would do very well indeed. Yes, from a young age I knew that I wanted to be a children’s television presenter or a dancer. My main advice in choosing a career would be to study the things you enjoy the most and then hopefully you will end up working in a field that brings you happiness.

What was it like meeting and working with Elmo?

Fantastic! It was definitely a week to remember as I celebrated my 10 years at Milkshake and my birthday with him too. I have always been a huge Jim Henson and Muppet fan so it was an enormous treat to meet him.

When I was toddler I watched Milkshake every morning, and felt like I knew the people presenting it. You have also been a kids’ TV presenter in the USA. What’s it like being an iconic figure to young children in both the UK and America?

Ah that’s good to know, thanks for watching. It is a huge privilege to present children’s television anywhere in the world, my aim is to try and spread some cheer and hopefully provide a little inspiration. I wouldn’t call myself an iconic figure though 🙂

I’ve read that you’ve held venomous snakes, been snorkelling with black tip sharks, and met a crocodile whilst swimming under water! Which was the most dangerous experience and have you ever felt genuinely scared for your life?

Yes, I have had some pretty hair-raising/exciting experiences, haven’t I?! Some aerial activities, wing-walking and sky-diving for example, make you extremely aware of your own mortality and some of the animals I meet could kill me very easily, but we always make sure strict safety measures are in place and I have a very healthy respect for animals that could do me serious damage.

What is the most fascinating thing you’ve seen whilst filming “Naomi’s Nightmares of Nature”?

That is a very hard question to answer as almost every animal I meet blows me away with its ingenious biology. If I had to say just one, I would probably say the Hagfish as everything about it was just so bizarre!

 

 

You obviously love animals, what does it feel like getting so close to elephants and pandas?

I find getting close to wildlife extremely fulfilling. When a young male elephant on safari decided it didn’t want us nearby anymore and mock charged us my heart was beating faster than ever and yet when another elephant remembered my name, my heart skipped a beat and it made me want to cry with joy.

They say you should never work with animals and children and you do both! A couple of years ago I did some presenting as a reporter at Blackpool Zoo. The funniest part was when two lemurs jumped on my head. What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you whilst filming?

Wow you got to meet lemurs and giraffes… lucky you. Recently we have been filming series 2 of ‘Naomi’s Nightmares of Nature’ and I have had a few encounters with animals that have been quite windy (putting it politely) and that always makes me laugh.

You’ve been to a lot of exciting places, which country have you enjoyed travelling to best?

I have just returned from Belize and that is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. The Caribbean Sea was turquoise, the beaches were stunning, the sun was shining, the wildlife was fascinating and there were palm trees everywhere.

Do you like active holidays too or do you like to chill out in between your adventures?

I love going surfing. I am not the best surfer but having a go makes me so happy. However I do like to totally chill out too, when life is so hectic at work I make the most of the breaks.

 

Photograph by Richard Budd

Jedward are two of the most lively people ever to hit TV! What was it like being half of team “Jaomi” on Jedward’s Big Adventure?

It was as mad as you would expect. Despite being buried in a graveyard and being covered in gunge, they were good fun to spend time with and are really nice lads.

What’s the weirdest place you’ve been to on All Over the Place?

Probably Coober Pedy, Australia. It is a mining town in the outback, known as ‘The Opal Capital of the World’. It is a friendly place to stay but completely unique as a lot of people live in homes under the ground to escape the intense heat.

 

 

Do you have any pets?

Sadly not, I would absolutely love to have a dog, but as I am away a lot I wouldn’t be there to look after it which wouldn’t be fair.

What’s the most unusual idea that’s come up when filming “Marrying Mum & Dad”  and has it ever gone really wrong?

I think the Haunted House episode has so far been the most unusual. But we are in the middle of making series 3 right now, so watch this space as there are some cracking new themes on the horizon.

Are you excited about being the co-host of “Comic Relief Does Glee Club” and what will you be singing in it?

This year it is Sport Relief Does Glee Club and I have a great time working on this show. I get the chance to dress up with a bit of sparkle and support all the auditioning clubs as they deal with the huge pressure of singing on a live television show. I won’t be singing on this show though, much to the judges disappointment! 😉

You’ve done a lot of extreme sport, especially on CBBC’s WILD. Which did you find most exhilarating and are there any you would never do again?

WILD is so much fun, working with Tim and Radzi would put anyone in a good mood. Abseiling 127 metres down The National Life Tower in Northampton was quite frankly terrifying. But the wing-walking, I took on for Live ‘n’ Deadly, was I think the most extreeeeme. It was one of the most exhilarating, scary and brilliant things I have ever done, but no, I probably wouldn’t ever want to loop-the-loop standing on the top of a plane again.

What’s the most challenging thing you still have left to do on your bucket list?

An excellent question and one I am struggling to answer. I have certainly ticked off a fair few recently. It is probably to try and one day take my Grade 6 piano exam. Getting time with my piano to practice is the biggest challenge, (well that and mastering the actual playing), as it doesn’t fit in to my suitcase very easily!

Which is wilder? Live ‘n’ Deadly or Butlin’s?

Ha ha, a funny question, I’d have to say Live ‘n’ Deadly.

If you ever need a young apprentice for daredevil stunts and animal experiences…please can you choose me?

I want to take everyone who has your attitude along with me. Glad to hear you have that adventurous resolve, please keep it up 🙂

Thanks Naomi for talking to me, interviewing you has been a real inspiration!

Cameron, March 2014

Naomi is co-host for Marrying Mum & Dad, which is back this year, as well as Naomi’s Nightmares of Nature (CBBC) Wild (CBBC) and All Over The Place (CBBC). Visit Naomi’s website.


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