A Radlett mum has become somewhat of an icon for kids in the village and beyond with her interactive TV show, Stories With Sparkles.
When lockdown first began, Natalie Austin, who is a vocal coach and children’s entertainer, started uploading videos of herself playing a character called Sparkles, and reading children’s stories to viewers via her Facebook page every weekday at 6.30pm.
Two months on, Sparkles episodes average more than a thousand views per night. What started as a local phenomenon has now swept the UK and Natalie is also getting views in America, Spain and Italy.
She said: “When lockdown started, I felt so sorry for all the kids. Also, as I have a three and six-year-old, I felt sorry for the parents! I was trying to find a way to help, and thought, ‘What time of day are parents all really done in?’
“I decided bedtime was where I could make a real difference, so every night from Monday to Friday, I began posting 20-minute videos where I read stories in character, and also have puppets like P-Ringles, Freddie the Frog and Colin the Monkey to help.
“I do birthday shout-outs for the kids viewing and also do competitions with prizes over the weekend – the response has been totally overwhelming. Parents have told me Sparkles has become a part of the daily routine for their kids, which is amazing.”
The show’s become such a hit that a management company has got in touch with Natalie and wants to make Sparkles a multi-platform programme – a YouTube channel has already been made.
To watch Sparkles now, search ‘Stories With Sparkles’ on Facebook.