If you feel frazzled when dealing with small children or grand-children as bedtime approaches, help is at hand - and it could even come from a Hollywood A-lister. Cbeebies' regular bedtime story slot is gaining huge audiences as a roster of famous names settles down in the Cbeebies comfy chair and lulls the nation's children to sleep with a story. From actors and rock stars to sportspeople and scientists, there have been some eye-opening celebrity readers in recent years. Olympic athlete Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, singers Josh Homme, Dolly Parton and Elton John, astronaut Tim Peake (who read from space), actors Eddie Redmayne, Emily Watson and Ewan McGregor, and TV chef Nadiya Hussain have all put their own spin on the bedtime story. The readers are allowed to choose their own favourites or pick stories that may inspire children; Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, for example, read The Frog Olympics by Brian Moses - and wore her gold medal while she did it.
The regular 6.45pm slot has gained audiences of up to 600,000 - with many parents joining their children for a relaxing moment together. While the children may not know who the readers are, the parents certainly do."The children are soothed by a story that marks the end of their day and the grown-ups are wowed and amazed at seeing their favourite celebrity or hero doing something so unlikely," says Producer Claire Taylor. The CBeebies team tries to pick "a strong mix of male and female role models" who'll be entertaining and engaging. And now the slot has become so well known that celebrities are queuing up to be allowed to read, and many are donating their earnings to charity. Tom Hardy, famous for appearances in Star Trek and The Revenant, asked to appear because he "really wanted to be in something his children could watch, enjoy and remember".