Wacaday star Timmy Mallett swaps mallet for palette and art show in Plymouth
THE colourful world of Timmy Mallett used to burst into living rooms on children's TV. Now it hangs on the lounge wall.
The former presenter is more often in front of an easel than a camera now.
To the generation that grew up watching children's telly in the 1980s and early 1990s he will always be the man with the loud shirts, wacky glasses and big pink foam mallet, on the Wide Awake Club and Wacaday; actually, even to many who are younger.
"I was walking through the Barbican and about 25 people in ten minutes came up to say hello," he says of his experience in Plymouth on a visit to promote his next exhibition.
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"I was in a restaurant on the Hoe and three of the waiters asked me to pose in a photo. It's 22 or 23 years since Wacaday and two of them couldn't have been more than 20."
Timmy comes across as if he is not long removed from his own childhood.
At 57, he has a boyish enthusiasm for painting. The canvases on show at the Royal William Yard over Easter are uncomplicated, bright and breezy, in Impressionist style, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the start of the art movement.
They include his interpretations of great works with some commissioned pieces of local interest and others from his UK and overseas travels.
"I don't have any formal art training," he says. "I have painted since I was a kid and I did an art history course as part of my degree. When we were filming for Wacaday I'd do drawings while I was away and occasionally they would film me.
"If you do it right and the viewer gradually sees the painting come together, it's fun."
More time away from TV allowed Timmy to develop his painting further. Last year he won the Fine Art Trade Guild Best Up And Coming Artist award and his works have been bought by collectors and investors across the UK. Originals go for up to £7,000.
He likes to work in the open if he can and West Country scenes are a favourite. Plymouth Sound is "just extraordinary" and the railway route along the south Devon coast at Dawlish and Teignmouth is "fantastic".
He speaks from experience as a regular visitor to the region – his brother, Paul, lives in Coads Green, near Callington.
Despite the hefty price tags his works can command, he doesn't feel the pressure.
"I'd say to anybody, 'have a go'. Start with acrylics. They are forgiving. They dry quickly and can be painted over.
"And when you get it right it's like planting something and seeing it grow – magic."
Timmy Mallett's exhibition is in Residence No 1, Royal William Yardfrom March 23 to April 3.