You’re working with Persil to promote their free play initiative. What made you decide to get involved?

I’m one of those mothers who feels like for years I’ve been told I should be doing things like Einstein videos and going to this class or that class with my kids and it’s just been hectic, but this new research that has come out has shown that the best thing for their development emotionally and socially as well as their vocabulary and raising their self-confidence is actually when you just let them play.

Free play encourages them to use their imagination and be creative, it’s almost like going back to basics because that’s what we did when we were kids, things like climbing trees and building dens, and this helps them develop much, much more as well as making for much less stressed parents!

What kind of things should parents get their children to do then?

Giving them permission to relax as children as well as giving them un-structured things to do is great. Get them to paint pictures or make things with dried pasta. Also, sending them out into the garden and saying; “Right, I want you to make me a cake for four goblins,” really get’s their imagination going.

What were your favourite games when you were younger?

Despite the fact that a lot of people assume I liked doing shows as a kid, because of my job these days, I actually loved playing games such as ‘Famous Five’ and going down to the park and going down the slide and that slide led to another time and so you had to jump onto the climbing frame which was a forest. There was a lot of role-play when I was younger, mainly pretending to we explorers. I wasn’t a massive drawer because I wasn’t very good at it!

The initiative places a lot of emphasis on letting children be children, do you think parents are too over-bearing these days?

I think they are and I don’t think it’s mean or anything like that but it feels like there are so many dangers out there and the last thing you want is for them to get hurt and I think that parents need to realise that they are going to get hurt but you cant wrap them up in cotton wool and stop them from getting hurt but that arming them with information and skills to prevent them from getting hurt is much better.

There is so much scary stuff out there at the moment that we are scared of letting them out when we just need to relax a bit more; as long as children are supervised you can take a lot of harm out of the situations. Obviously don’t let them climb up a 14ft tree but do let them explore a lot more and maybe climb smaller trees so they can see what it’s like to be a bird up there but I think parents these days, because of their business and because of all the different dangers out there, have become a lot more over-bearing and I think we could all do with relaxing a little bit and realising that children need a little more space and unstructured playtime.

As a mother, what do you think is the best way to let your children play?

I just let them get on with it, even though it is quite hard not to say; “No, the rules must be….” but I think that by giving children a few leading questions or a few items it helps them along, so you’re helping them play, but not necessarily telling them what they can and can’t do.

So if you’re in the garden and they’re saying; “Mummy, I’m bored, I’m bored!” then you could say to them; “Why don’t you go and work out what the goblins at the end of the garden want for their tea?” then get them to go and collect lots of things and make a big feast up for them, that leaves them to go and wander and then perhaps come up with other games, such as how many worms they can get in a bucket, and I think that by giving them leading questions and taking yourselves out of the situations, you can really let their imaginations run wild.

Do you think the lifestyles that children are getting used to such as watching TV and playing computer games are having an impact on their health and communication skills?

I think that research that has already been done supports that claim I personally think that every activity has a time and place, and that children shouldn’t necessarily be banned from watching television because there is some educational stuff on there. The difference between good and bad is when they’re watching TV, or playing computer games for half an hour on an evening to when they’re doing it from morning till night on a weekend because mum and dad are too busy with household chores.

I think the best way to develop social skills is by being social, and I know from experience that my little girl would much rather play with her friends than watch telly. If I was to ask her whether she wanted to watch TV or invite her friends over to play, she would choose her friends every time. The problem with the TV is that it’s an easy way to occupy your kids, you flick a switch and you have them quiet for hours whilst they’re glued to the screen.

With the free play initiative, it encourages as well as advises how to let children just have a hour a day to themselves to play and learn the skills they need for their lives, it does them the world of good.

You have just finished filming your latest TV role for Boy Meets Girl; what is that about?

It sounds odd but watch it anyway! A girl and a guy get electrocuted and swap bodies, it’s got Martin Freeman and Rachael Stirling in it as well as myself and Marshall Lancaster. Martin Freeman’s character goes missing and we set out to find him. It’s a comedy drama which is fun as well as being fantastic! The director also directed Spooks, so it’s very clever and something well worth watching out for.

Do you ever miss being part of a long-running series or soap such as Holby City or Corrie?

I suppose I do but it seems that every part I play goes on for years! Boy Meets Girl is probably one of the shortest ones. Cutting it went on for five series and I’m also going back to Waterloo Road, you feel like you become part of the company and stay with them for quite a while.

What else do you have planned for the future?

I’m going back to Waterloo Road in August and I’m also doing a play at the Grand Theatre in Leeds for a week which is a play of monologues with Prunella Scales and I am absolutely terrified, but that’s essentially why I wanted to do it because it’s so rare to get a job now which makes you really nervous!

We ask everyone we interview to come up with a question for the next person we interview....and Finley Quay wants to know who your favourite painter is?

My favourite painter would be my daughter Tallulah.

What would your question be for the next celebrity we speak to?

If you were to subscribe to a magazine, what would it be?

Find out what MTV's Rickie Haywood Williams would like to subscribe to here

FemaleFirst - Ruth Harrison

Probably better known for her roles in Corrie or Cutting it; Angela Griffin is now seeking to promote a new way to let kids play.FemaleFirst caught up with the lovable actress to chat about kids, making hit television series, and best of all; Goblins at the bottom of the garden.
You’re working with Persil to promote their free play initiative. What made you decide to get involved?

I’m one of those mothers who feels like for years I’ve been told I should be doing things like Einstein videos and going to this class or that class with my kids and it’s just been hectic, but this new research that has come out has shown that the best thing for their development emotionally and socially as well as their vocabulary and raising their self-confidence is actually when you just let them play.

Free play encourages them to use their imagination and be creative, it’s almost like going back to basics because that’s what we did when we were kids, things like climbing trees and building dens, and this helps them develop much, much more as well as making for much less stressed parents!

What kind of things should parents get their children to do then?

Giving them permission to relax as children as well as giving them un-structured things to do is great. Get them to paint pictures or make things with dried pasta. Also, sending them out into the garden and saying; “Right, I want you to make me a cake for four goblins,” really get’s their imagination going.

What were your favourite games when you were younger?

Despite the fact that a lot of people assume I liked doing shows as a kid, because of my job these days, I actually loved playing games such as ‘Famous Five’ and going down to the park and going down the slide and that slide led to another time and so you had to jump onto the climbing frame which was a forest. There was a lot of role-play when I was younger, mainly pretending to we explorers. I wasn’t a massive drawer because I wasn’t very good at it!

The initiative places a lot of emphasis on letting children be children, do you think parents are too over-bearing these days?

I think they are and I don’t think it’s mean or anything like that but it feels like there are so many dangers out there and the last thing you want is for them to get hurt and I think that parents need to realise that they are going to get hurt but you cant wrap them up in cotton wool and stop them from getting hurt but that arming them with information and skills to prevent them from getting hurt is much better.

There is so much scary stuff out there at the moment that we are scared of letting them out when we just need to relax a bit more; as long as children are supervised you can take a lot of harm out of the situations. Obviously don’t let them climb up a 14ft tree but do let them explore a lot more and maybe climb smaller trees so they can see what it’s like to be a bird up there but I think parents these days, because of their business and because of all the different dangers out there, have become a lot more over-bearing and I think we could all do with relaxing a little bit and realising that children need a little more space and unstructured playtime.

As a mother, what do you think is the best way to let your children play?

I just let them get on with it, even though it is quite hard not to say; “No, the rules must be….” but I think that by giving children a few leading questions or a few items it helps them along, so you’re helping them play, but not necessarily telling them what they can and can’t do.

So if you’re in the garden and they’re saying; “Mummy, I’m bored, I’m bored!” then you could say to them; “Why don’t you go and work out what the goblins at the end of the garden want for their tea?” then get them to go and collect lots of things and make a big feast up for them, that leaves them to go and wander and then perhaps come up with other games, such as how many worms they can get in a bucket, and I think that by giving them leading questions and taking yourselves out of the situations, you can really let their imaginations run wild.

Do you think the lifestyles that children are getting used to such as watching TV and playing computer games are having an impact on their health and communication skills?

I think that research that has already been done supports that claim I personally think that every activity has a time and place, and that children shouldn’t necessarily be banned from watching television because there is some educational stuff on there. The difference between good and bad is when they’re watching TV, or playing computer games for half an hour on an evening to when they’re doing it from morning till night on a weekend because mum and dad are too busy with household chores.

I think the best way to develop social skills is by being social, and I know from experience that my little girl would much rather play with her friends than watch telly. If I was to ask her whether she wanted to watch TV or invite her friends over to play, she would choose her friends every time. The problem with the TV is that it’s an easy way to occupy your kids, you flick a switch and you have them quiet for hours whilst they’re glued to the screen.