As one of the regular presenters on children’s channel CBeebies, Katy Ashworth is a familiar face to pre-school viewers.

Her role on the flagship series I Can Cook has helped introduce a generation of children to the joys of growing, cooking, eating and understanding the full cycle of food.

Now the bubbly star is coming to Medway to take on the title role in The Central Theatre’s production of Peter Pan, opposite Vanilla Ice as villainous pirate Captain Hook.

We caught up with Katy as she prepares for a hectic summer schedule, all good preparation for pantomime rehearsals in Chatham later this year.

Are you looking forward to the show?
Yes, absolutely, and especially working with Vanilla Ice. We’re such different characters – a US rap star and Katy from CBeebies! It’s going to be brilliant fun. I didn’t know he was playing Hook when I signed up but now everyone I tell thinks it sounds crazy and cool. I understand he’s a lovely bloke. I’m looking forward to meeting him and working with him.

How do you get ready for a new role?
Peter Pan is a physically demanding role so I need to be fit. But it’s an amazing role too because I get to do stunts, fly and of course sing. There’s some great musical numbers that I can really belt out. Last year I tried to ad lib in a joke, ‘I can hook’ when I was fighting Captain Hook but it went down like a lead balloon so I might not try that again this year.

I might take some more singing lessons as flying and singing at the same time is challenging. I’ll also need plenty of sleep. I’m staying with my best friend’s mum in Beckenham so I won’t have to travel too far.

What do you like about this story and character?
I love Peter Pan. He’s such a free spirit and it’s a great story, full of imagination. It’s so well-rounded because it has everything – pirates, princesses and something for adults too.

I liked the way I played Peter Pan last Christmas (in St Albans) so I’ll probably play it similar this year too but maybe a bit more girly and with a bit more pazzazz. What’s so great about Peter Pan is that he’s the saviour of the story. It’s great to be the hero of the show.

How will you spend your summer?
I’ve just started filming the third series of I Can Cook and this time we’re travelling around the country filming, so that’s fun. After that finishes, I’m planning a camping holiday and maybe even a music festival, and of course just chilling out in the sunshine, hopefully.

Aside from panto, what other projects are you doing later this year?
Every weekend throughout the September, October and November, I’ll be touring with my one-woman show Meet, Greet, Sing & Play with Katy from CBeebies. It’s a 45-minute show and a great dress rehearsal for panto because it includes slap-stick comedy and singing.

I’ll also be filming some more links as a presenter for CBeebies. I love working on I Can Cook but I also need new challenges so the link presenting role keeps me on my toes, it’s an amazing experience. I’ve been presenting since the beginning of this year and it’s a real laugh, plus I get to go to work in the Blue Peter garden. I love what I do and I love children. I believe in everything CBeebies stands for, so it’s great to be more involved with the channel, it’s awesome.

In the new year, I’m climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for charity so I need to be fit for that. I’ll probably start training by going jogging and dancing. Playing Peter Pan gives me a good excuse to start training early. I fancy trying my hand at acrobatics too so that when I’m fighting Hook at the end of the show I can do an aerial flip when I’m flying. That would be amazing.

· Tickets are already on sale for Peter Pan, which opens on Thursday, 8 December and runs until 31 December. Tickets start from £15 for adults and £11 for children. For tickets and show times phone the box office on 01634 338338