Let’s meet the four British children who performed the voices of Boj’s buddies, Rupa, Mia, Gavin and Denzil!
All the children are from Sussex, where Pesky, the production company behind Boj, are based.
When it came to casting, director Claire Underwood spent many months listening out in the school playground and around town for the right voices to fit her distinctive characters. She wanted to find children with personalities that matched each buddy. The clearly defined characters are based on established personality archetypes, recognised the world over, so she was looking for those particular traits.
Claire’s own daughter Poppy Hodgson was a perfect fit for Rupa. She’s an analytical child, conscientious and organised and like her cartoon double, she loves gymnastics! Whereas her school friend Sophie Goldstein was an ‘expressive’, excitable and giggly, with a small delicate build, great for a little mouse!
Sophie and Poppy were both six when they recorded the pilot, but by the time the series started production they were eight and Sophie’s voice was deeper than it once was – so rather than replace her it was decided she would be pitched up!
Claire approached Jack Gardner’s mum after seeing his brother perform in a school Christmas play. Although Jack’s younger brother was the more theatrical, his mum felt that Jack fitted the ‘driver’ role much better. Jack is a brilliant young athlete, very confident and competitive. His clear voice with straight-forward delivery was perfect for Gavin.
The longest search was to find Denzil. But when Claire saw Angelo Illsley morris dancing at a May Day event in Lewes, and heard his adorable husky voice, she knew he was the one! After a slightly embarrassed introduction with his mum, they arranged an audition, and it was there that all could see how gentle, polite and kind Angelo was – an ‘amiable’ just like Denzil.
The children went to the Lewes based recording studio around 20 times over the course of the 18 month production. The sound-proofed booth had an odd atmosphere as its walls are carpeted and there are no windows, so has a very dead ambiance which took a bit of getting used to.
Rather than read from a script, they repeated lines read by Claire, with the same intonation and delivery. None of the children had any previous acting experience or training. Poppy was so shy, she would dread even standing up in assembly let alone being able to act on a stage. But in the studio none of that mattered, they were just being themselves, unaware of the audience of millions their voices would eventually be heard by!
It was hard for the children to comprehend that what they were doing would become an animation on TV. So when the show finally aired on CBeebies they were very excited to see their characters come alive. Their families, school mates and teachers started to talk about it and they enjoyed their little taste of fame!
Find out more about the voice of Boj – Ziggy Badans – click here.