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Meet one of the actors behind Disney’s latest hit show

TALENT: Ben Bailey Smith

THE HUMBLE beginnings for Ben Bailey Smith saw him hone his skills as underground rapper Doc Brown but since then he has diversified profoundly, moving into mainstream TV and Film acting, stand up, screen writing and children’s books.

Smith has a host of notable television performances under his belt including a starring role in ITV’s Law & Order, C4’s The Inbetweeners and Derek, BBC thriller Hunted, BBC comedies Rev, Miranda, Fleabag, Russell Howard’s Good News, Live at the Apollo and ITV’s Midsomer Murders, and is highly regarded for his ongoing work with Ricky Gervais.

The 41-year-old will also be appearing in Disney Channel UK’s new animation series, 101 Dalmatian Street, which premiered last week.

The exciting new series will introduce a new generation of children to the wonderful, spotty world of Dalmatians, with 101 Dalmatian Street inspired by Dodie Smith’s timeless 1956 novel and Walt Disney’s classic 1961 film, 101 Dalmatians.

Talking to The Voice about voicing Sid Squirrel, Smith also explained how he finds the voice for his characters.

Q: What is 101 Dalmatian Street about?

BBS: 101 Dalmatian Street, I guess the clue is in the name. It's inspired by the classic Dodi Smith book 101 Dalmatians, which the whole world knows about and it is a classic Disney film cartoon as well. This is an animated series that bring the story bang up to date. It’s in contemporary London and the story follows the two eldest siblings Dolly and Dylan and their 97 brothers and sisters on their exploits. and it’s really is an ongoing tale of family and friendships in contemporary London

Q: Can you describe the characters?

BBS: I provide the voice for two characters, Sid the Squirrel and Spencer the Sausage Dog. Sid is kind of a crazy, a high-energy little critter who is very athletic. He’s a bit of a parkour expert or at least fancies himself as one and he is absolutely obsessed with the hoarding and eating of nuts. In fact, nuts can make him pretty wild, he can really lose it if he gets a good selection of nuts or just in the hunt for nuts.

As well as Sid, I also play a Sausage Dog called Spencer and he is quite a sarky, snarky, snobby dog. He fancies himself as having certain airs and graces even though he’s very much the sidekick of Portia the Poodle. He’s definitely got his nose in the air, even though his belly is so close to the ground. He thinks he’s the business.

Q: What attracted you to be part of 101 Dalmatian Street?

BBS: When I was a small child, my dream was to voice cartoons and to one-day voice animated movies. It was the first thing I ever wanted to do and I never actually believed that I’d ever do it. But the way my life ended up, I have somehow given myself a great chance of doing it. It's not something that has just come out of the blue, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’d voiced a couple of cartoons before this one and done quite a bit of voice work and this was an opportunity to get right back into it what I love the most.

Q: How do you prepare to play a squirrel or a sausage dog?

BBS: The main thing when it comes to finding the voice for your characters is seeing pictures of them to begin with, that’s the very first thing. You see a picture of them and then you get a sense of whether they have a big burly voice or a little tiny voice, high pitch, low pitch and then from there you just play around. It’s important at that point to have other people in the room who can give their opinion.

So something like this, it’s a comedy, you can do various silly things and see what sticks. Also you can do one really silly voice, try it out and it's funny for a moment and you realise a hundred episodes later that it’s just really annoying. So that initial process is quite important, but it’s also one of the most fun parts as anything could work. It might not, but it might and that’s quite an exciting thing to be part of.

101 Dalmatian Street airs on Disney Channel, Monday to Thursday at 5pm

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