Julian Clary can barely contain his excitement about our kids cover comp!

“It’s all about being fun and creative – both things children are naturally brilliant at”

We have launched our Christmas Kids Cover Competition and already drawings, paintings and digital designs are being sent from children across the country. This year’s theme is ‘Together’ and we are sure the bright and jolly artwork children are creating is just what we need to unite us all in time for Christmas. Apart from the winning design being on the cover of The Big Issue, selling hundreds of thousands of copies, there will also be a prize for the best group entry. So tell your friends, teachers and youth workers to get involved!

Joining this year’s judging panel is the comedian and author of the fabulous Bolds books for children, Julian Clary, who is having trouble hiding his excitement…

The Big Issue: Just how excited are you to be one of the judges of The Big Issue’s Christmas Kids Cover Competition?

Julian Clary: Moderately. I am excited, but not so excited that I need to put my newspaper down or anything like that. As a judge I fully intend to be kind and fair. More Darcey Bussell that Craig Revell Whateverhisnameis.

What kind of entries are you hoping to see?

It’s all about being fun and creative – both things children are naturally brilliant at. I am drawn to humour in all areas of life, so a picture that makes me smile or laugh will get extra marks from me.

The topical theme of this year’s competition is ‘Together’. How do you think society can be united again?

Blimey. Uniting society isn’t my field of expertise, sadly. I’m just a camp comic and renowned homosexual. We could try holding hands? Eating more chocolate? I’m keen on random acts of kindness, too. Mainly towards dogs and old ladies who wear a lot of make-up.

How might you convey that via a festive illustration?

With great difficulty.

You work with the illustrator David Roberts for the Bolds books. What are you hoping he adds to your stories?

Pictures, mainly. A book without illustrations is like John Barrowman without teeth.

What makes him a good illustrator to work with?

He’s clean and cheerful, which is a boon, and he speaks with a cheery northern accent. David has brought the Bolds to life better than anyone else could. All of the characters are just as I imagined them to be. I recently travelled from Edinburgh to London on the train with David. Would you like to know how many gin and tonics he had? Four! I was shocked. But it doesn’t make him a bad person.

What are your top tips for kids who want to be creative?

Whatever you enjoy, be it writing, drawing, dancing or making people laugh – try to do it every day. The more you practise, the better you become. Try to lose yourself in the creative process and don’t worry about what anyone else is going to think of it. Get nice and messy, if you’re painting. Chuck paint up the walls and on the carpet.

The Bolds are a family of hyenas living undercover in suburban Teddington. What could we learn from them?

Kindness, tolerance and the importance of having a laugh as often as possible.

The stories are based on something you imagined as a child. How do we keep hold of childhood creativity and imagination throughout our lives?

There is a thing called your inner child. However old or grown-up we become, there is still a part of our psyche that is forever young – we just need to locate and nurture it. Comedians have a particularly well-developed inner child, as it helps in our line of business.

Mr Bold writes Christmas cracker jokes, so can you give us a couple of… crackers?

If I must…

What did the policeman say to his tummy? You are under a vest.

What did the earwig say as he fell over the cliff? Ear we go.

As well as conveying togetherness, we’re hoping the competition entries blow us away with Christmas cheer. What says Christmas to you?

It’s hard to escape it from early September these days. Every shop window and supermarket is screaming ‘CHRISTMAS!’ I find it quite stressful. Not that I don’t enjoy it, but it’s only one day, really. When I was a child the tree and decorations were put up on Christmas Eve, after we’d gone to bed. Christmas morning was very exciting. Nowadays I get Christmas fatigue, I’m sorry to say, round about Guy Fawkes night.

Are you in pantomime this year?

This year I am giving my Ringmaster in Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the London Palladium.

The Bolds’ Christmas Cracker by Julian Clary and David Roberts (Andersen Press, £6.99) is out now. Julian Clary is touring Born to Mince April 25-May 23, 2020, julianclary.com