Grown-ups without small children probably have little or no understanding of the enormous popularity enjoyed by actor Justin Fletcher, eponymous star of the TV show, Justin’s House.
Anyone who has the pleasure of sharing their lives with little ones, however, is very likely to be extremely familiar with this much loved CBeebies in-house production and the crazy onscreen capers of Justin, Robert the Robot and Little Monster.
EC Creative Services built Justin’s original ‘house’ back in 2011 and have revamped and updated the set each year since, including recent significant changes such as the addition of an internal staircase (previously off camera).
The set is a two-storey house which has a lounge and kitchen downstairs and a bedroom and roof terrace on a mezzanine floor upstairs. It includes working doors, windows (all at peculiar angles), trapdoors and a fully functioning sink plus a bed that’s actually a giant cradle which rocks from side to side. As the show includes the use of puppets (the aforementioned Little Monster) the set is higher than usual to allow access runs for the puppeteers below the set and the sofa is hollow to provide a hidey-hole too.
Working to a brief to create a ‘theatre-style’ set with an almost pantomime feel this colourful, quirky ‘set and strike’ build has two floors and is on wheels to enable a swift ‘get out’ each week. (When Justin’s House isn’t recording this same studio is used throughout the week to make other programmes including Match of the Day). EC provides an engineer to supervise the weekly re-set and to test that the installation is in perfect working order in line with HSE guidelines on the use of temporary structures.
As well as appealing visually to children the set has to be robust enough to enable this amount of shifting and everything about it needs to be right-first time – the last thing a television director needs with a live audience of two hundred children is any technical hitches that could interrupt filming.
Originally the seats for the studio audience were intended to be standard ‘auditorium seating’ where the individual seats lift upwards to provide a walkway between rows. Two days before recording, though, a sharp-eared (is there such a thing?) sound engineer realised the issue this would cause when the studio was full of wriggly five year olds banging their seats up and down. At the eleventh hour then, EC was asked to create tiered bespoke benches to provide a safe, comfortable yet significantly quieter seating solution for filming. These were turned around just-in-time for the first Justin’s House studio audience…and relax.
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