Five minutes with Janet Ellis who talks about narrating Furry Friends on the Disney Junior channel

Janet Ellis

Janet Ellis

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Furry Friends is a great title – what’s the show about?

Lovely, isn’t it? It’s an introduction for children to real-life pet-owning because I think a lot of children nag for a pet but don’t really know what it entails. This shows what it’s really like – it’s a day in the life of the pet and the owner, including all the responsibility and all the fun.

What kind of animals can we expect to see?

You have to take the title with a pinch of salt because the series does include a stick insect, a tortoise and a chicken, but also a guide dog, a gerbil, rabbits, a cat and a really lovely donkey. It’s a really good mix.

It looks as if working on the series has been a lot of fun

It has, but I’m mostly just doing the voiceover, so my take on it is more of an overview than getting down and dirty and mucking out. But I’ve done plenty of that in my time with three children and lots of pets, so I do have plenty to offer in terms of experience.

Are you an animal lover?

Yes. We used to have two cats and a dog, but the cats were 17 when they died, which is pretty good going. So we’ve got a 10-year-old dog, and over the course of my childrens’ lives we’ve had a rabbit, a guinea pig, hamsters and gerbils.

Are you a Disney fan?

The first film I ever saw, at the age of five, was Pollyanna. I wrote a letter to Walt Disney asking him if I could be in his next film and gave it to my mother. She never sent it, but gave it back to me about 30 years ago, so I’ve wanted to work for Disney for all that time, and finally it’s happened!

You started out as an actress, so how did you end up presenting?

I went to drama school and I started work in theatre straight away, which is really lucky. In fact, I did some children’s TV because I was in something called Jackanory Playhouse and a show called Jigsaw for the BBC. My then agent said there was a job coming up on Blue Peter. Initially I thought, ‘Oh no – I’m acting’. But there was something about presenting that was close to theatre back then because we didn’t have autocue, we had to learn a script.

Sometimes you hear horror stories about working on Blue Peter, about how difficult it was...

I think I was really lucky because I became very good friends with the other presenters. I was closest of all to Caron Keating. I still see Mark Curry, Simon Groom and Peter Duncan regularly. I had the programme to thank for that, and even 10 million years later we’re still friends.

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