In 2015 we had a really exciting summer. We not only moved house from West Sussex to Kent/Greater London, we also ended up on T.V!
You can watch the episode here:
My son Ben, had seen an advert for a new CBBC show called Dengineers. It sounded fantastic and they were looking for kids to take part. They wanted imaginative kids to design their own den and then they would come and build it for you.
So, Ben filled in the application. The advert said that we would hear if they were interested within four weeks. After four weeks passed, I told Ben that I was sorry, but they hadn’t rung, never mind! The very next day, the phone rang and a nice guy said he was from CBBC, I freaked out. They had a chat with Ben on the phone and there began several stages of the process to work out whether he would be on the series. At each stage, I was impressed with the care shown for Ben and the careful handling of his expectations.
A part of the process was to film us as a family in our new home, where the Den would be built.
It was great fun, but I felt hugely camera shy. During the filming we sat on camping chairs in a bare lounge and answered questions about our family life. This was when Archie (usually the more reflective child) chose to speak . He explained (with great enthusiasm) how we liked to get drunk… Which perhaps, if it had been the truth would’ve been o.k. The fact that we don’t drink a whole lot and that Neil had just accepted the post of Vicar here, sent us into a mild panic (Archie explained later that he was making a joke).
Fortunately, CBBC has not televised any outtakes!
After this spot of filming they told Neil and I that Ben had been selected, however we were not allowed to tell Ben! We managed to keep it a secret for a whole month.
On the morning of the surprise, they asked us to send Ben out with Neil. So off they went to the Library, whilst back at home things got exciting. I opened the back door to a stream of people and a huge amount of equipment. Mark Wright and Lauren Layfield walked in and we shook hands politely (whilst I tried to pretend I was cool and hide my inner freak out).
They set up hidden camera’s all over the house and garden and then set a tent up behind the tree’s. I was miked up and we concocted a lie to get Ben in the garden. I was to say “Quick Ben, there is a fox in the garden” and he would rush out and ‘Surprise’!
We had a whole week with the CBBC crew. They couldn’t have been a nicer bunch and we were left wishing that we could stay in touch. Mark Wright was a lovely guy and even managed to be complementary about my embarrassing attempt at making a bench ‘Pinterest Fail’. Which is now called the ‘Mark Wright Bench’… as he sat on it,
£50 to sit where Mark sat (only kidding…£100).
As for a tiny bit of celebrity gossip: Mark Wright is a lovely guy, friendly and good at catching runaway dogs.
The crew were amazing, such an fantastic bunch of people and for me one of the highlights was having a house full of lovely people. I was so impressed with the care, concern and interest they showed us as a family. I thought you might like to see a few of our ‘behind the scene’ photo’s.
We had a panel of fence removed to get the digger in… an even shorter commute to church for us then!
Then The team set up a screen. Now we were the one’s out of the loop. Only Ben was allowed behind the screen.
In the middle photo Ben had caught me watching!
Ben worked pretty hard… Barney was left puzzled by the whole event.
We got to eat bugs! YUCK!
Everyone got to be involved. Even my brother, Sister in Law and nephews: Jack and Miles over from America
We especially loved the team lunches.
And then there was the surprise day with STEVE BACKSHALL! As if this wasn’t exciting enough. What a great bloke. Thank you Steve.
We so enjoyed meeting Steve Backshall, he was super kind and a walking encyclopaedia. He shared with Ben all sorts of interesting facts, both on and off camera. I was so impressed that even though he was on a super tight schedule, he made time to chat to Ben and show him a weird fungus, a Kite’s dinner and a spiders secret hiding place.
And as for the finished Den… In Ben’s words: It’s a-mazing!
At the end of the week, we were so sad to say goodbye to our new friends. Thank you CBBC and thank you Dengineers team. You are a great bunch of people and we loved having you around.
This is us at 8:30 am gathered around the T.V, holding our breath and waiting for the first episode of The Dengineers. Ben’s Survival Den. Although everyone lived too far away to watch it that early in the morning with us, we were bombarded with texts, messages and even video’s throughout the show. I’ll never forget it!
Ben’s lego tribute to the Dengineers team:
Thank you Mark Wright for chasing Barney (our dog) down the road when he escaped (another highlight).