Professor Green – real name Stephen Manderson – 35, is the first of programme’s famous faces. We caught up with him to find out what filming the series was like and the challenges he thinks parents face in the 21st century.
Tell us about the children you look after in My Famous Babysitter…
“They lived in the Cotswolds. There was mum Caroline, dad Andy, then there was James who was the eldest at 17, Alex, 15, who had Down’s syndrome, and William who was 12. I’d never encountered a child or adult with Down’s before, so that was something that I had to learn about very quickly.
“Caroline and Andy are doing the best thing by him, raising him to be somebody who’s independent and able to live independently. They want to give him a life as normal as possible, and why shouldn’t they?
“But I had to learn how to best communicate with him, when I needed to push and when he needed space. The last thing I wanted to do was walk in and upset everyone. Although inevitably there were some tears! The youngest son William was a real character. I could see him ending up in performing arts somewhere. He’s got a brilliant little personality.”
The family live on a farm – what was that like for you?
“I had to worm sheep which obviously doesn’t happen on a council estate in Hackney! It’s like, ‘What the hell?’. We had to get the eggs out of the hen house and that was a really brilliant moment with William… That was one of his jobs he felt comfortable with, so he took control and he really came to life.
“He knew what he was doing, I didn’t have a bloody clue. One of the chickens had thrush. I was like, ‘Get me out of here. I didn’t know chickens could get thrush!’. I didn’t want chicken thrush.”
What habits would you say you instilled in the boys?
“I’m a believer of tidy room, tidy mind. You have to engage children. If you just tell them to get up and do the washing up, what a horrible way to talk to someone. But saying, ‘Can you help me?’ was my way of getting them to do things. They’re nice kids, they don’t want to not help. Given the opportunity, if you talk to kids using the right language, you get results. I don’t think it always has to be as difficult as people make out.”
Is fatherhood something you’ve always wanted in life?
“Yes, children is something that definitely I would like to do in my life. Children are something that I would humour the idea of. Well, I think start with a child. Just the one, see how you do, see how it comes out!”
How do you think your childhood has impacted the way you view family?
“I think it’s impacted how I see family in a really positive sense because I was the only child that my mum and dad had together. I wasn’t raised with any of the kids that they had away from each other. So I was brought up by my grandmother and great-grandmother, which gave me a different set of values and morals, which I’m very, very grateful for.
“It took me a while to get to where I am. There’s a lot of baggage that I carried from what I experienced growing up, and I never want to pass that on to a child, should I have one. So I spent a lot of time working on myself.
“I feel like I’m in a place where if I were to have a child I wouldn’t be burdening that child with all the things that I was burdened with growing up. Therefore they’d have a much greater start than what I had. And despite all that I went through as a child, I’ve not ended up that bad.”
Do you think screen time is a problem with children?
“I think that’s a real common challenge for parents nowadays. That’s something that I don’t want to give my kid. Listen, there’s an argument for and an argument against. You don’t want your child to be technologically inept, but I really don’t foresee, if I had a child, me just palming them off with an iPad so I can get on with what I’m doing.
“I think that’s the other thing, sometimes people want kids and they want their entire life back. They expect their life to not change, they just want to have kids because they want to have kids, but they also want to have everything else.”
What do you hope viewers will take away from watching your episode?
“I don’t ever want to inform opinions. I think it’s the same with my music, I think explanation kills art. I just want people to take whatever they take from it. I didn’t wear a mask, I never do, I was exactly who I am, as I am in everything that I do. So, I’m happy for people to take from it whatever they wish.”
My Famous Babysitter starts on W on Monday, October 21.