I have never seen a television episode of Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom. But I do have two pre -school age grandchildren, May aged 3 and Solomon aged 4. As an Easter treat for them, I had the perfect reviewers with me to find out more. I enjoy children’s shows, mainly, because they are fiendishly difficult to pull off. If it is not up to scratch, little voices start to enquire, “ When will this finish?” ( I have felt this during several adult productions),or declare that they need the toilet – urgently. If the show is good, they sit captivated.
At curtain up, I learned that: “Somewhere, hidden amongst the thorny brambles is a little kingdom where everyone is very, very small…”
A programme skim reveals the creators of the show to be BAFTA award winners Neville Astley and Mark Baker from Entertainment One who were also responsible for Peppa Pig. The company is Fiery Light Productions, the original music by Julian Nott, who also wrote the scores for Wallace and Gromit and Peppa Pig. Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom can be found on television on Nickelodeon Junior, and 5’s “Milkshake”.
Adults should come prepared with plenty of cash to buy show merchandise such as Ben & Holly’s wands. There is no escape.
All the essential elements of a children’s show are present, including games, giggling, songs, communal singing, dancing, audience participation, and a game of hide and seek . The masked actors and colourful costumes make for a vibrant spectacle, as elves and princesses do what elves and princesses do, in neat, brief, episodic form in two half hour slots broken by an interval.
The fun unfolds in the Little Kingdom where the flowers and grass are big. The eponymous Holly, a young Fairy Princess, is learning how to fly, not always without incident, alongside her best friend Ben the Elf. Ben can’t fly so hitches a lift on the back of Gaston the Ladybird, who was a firm favourite with the children whose messy, smelly, cave delighted them. The highlight was the jelly flood at the Kings feast at the end, any parents about to serve jelly in the near future, beware.
Professionally produced, and skilfully put to together, a song and dance was never far away, and our two children were enthralled from start to finish. This is an ideal “first show” for any pre school child, and a perfect gateway to introduce them to theatre before their first pantomime. Highly recommended entertainment for little people.