AS presenters on kids television channel CBBC, Sam and Mark are household faces – if, of course, your household contains children under under 16.

But Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes originally caught our attentions as wannabe pop stars – competing individually on Pop Idol where they came in second and third, respectively, behind winner Michelle McManus.

Forming a duo, they teamed up with manager Simon Fuller – the man responsible for the Spice Girls – and with a cheery cover of The Beatles’ With a Little Help from My Friends, hit the top of the charts.

No one-hit wonders though, the pair are now children’s TV royalty, winning young fans through shows Sam & Mark’s TMi Friday (replacing Dick and Dom’s In Da Bungalow), Copycats, Top of the Pops Reloaded and Sam and Mark’s Guide to Dodging Disaster.

And next week they bring their knockabout comedy to the Colchester Arts Centre with their Sam and Mark’s On The Road Show.

Mark admits a lot of people don’t realise they met on Pop Idol when the show was at its height.

“It’s brilliant,” he says. “Because we’ve been doing kids TV for so long now, the audience that we’re catering for don’t know us from Pop Idol, but their parents know us from that originally. So they’ve grown up with us in a way.

“It’s a double-edged sword, because it’s lovely but at the same time it makes us feel very old!” chips in Sam.

He says: “Parents will come up to us at festivals, with two kids in a pram saying they used to have posters of us when they were 12 years-old, and now they’ve got kids of their own. Circle of life, eh?

“It just shows that you can have longevity in the industry if you enjoy what you do, and we definitely enjoy what we do.”

Sam adds: “We’ve kept a career bubbling under constantly. For 16 years, we’ve very rarely had a massive chunk of time off. We’ve worked every year since Pop Idol and it was all down to that show, and we’re very thankful to it.”

“Yes,” says Mark. “It gave us our break into a career that we never thought we would be doing. We enjoy every single day.”

And they must be doing something right, having won two Children’s BAFTA’s for Best Children’s presenters and for Best Children’s Entertainment Show. Does that feel surreal? And where do you keep the awards?

“I think I can speak for both of us in saying that first BAFTA we won for Best Presenters is probably the highlight of our careers.” says Sam. “We’d been nominated about ten years before, and Holly Willoughby won it – and look how much she’s gone on to do!

“Then we got the nomination again years later and, just being nominated felt amazing because we were looking forward to going along to the show and having a brilliant time. And when we won it, it was unbelievable.

"I think it was because we had been recognised for something that we truly feel we do a good job at.”

Mark laughs: “It’s not like when we had a number one single – which was incredible and got us where we are now – but it was off the back of Pop Idol, so we could have brought anything out and it probably would have got to number one.

"But with the Children’s BAFTA, it felt like people thought we were actually good at what we do – which is the reason why it is our proudest moment working together."

Now with children of their own, and despite being based in different parts of the country, Mark in London, and Sam in his home town of Barnsley, the pair show no signs of stopping with their touring show going from strength to strength and just being signed up to from the return of a childhood favourite, Crackerjack, 35 years after it was last aired.

"The touring show came out of one we did for places like Butlin's and Park Resorts," Sam tells me, "which was basically a mixture of all the great television game shows we grew up with.

"We did some venues in May, and they went really well, so we're back trying it out in some new places, like Colchester."

“It’s family show full of comedy sketches and games,” says Mark. “Everyone who comes to the theatre is going to be involved in the show, which I think is what we do best. We love mingling with the audience. It’s going to be a fast-paced show – and the audience can be the stars of the show.”

Sam adds: “We like the audience to be our contestants. It’s basically a big, fun, family game show that you’re taking part in.”

So they're going to be more than ready to tackle the legendary show that was Crackerjack.

"Oh man," Sam begins, "when they asked us to do the show it was a proper dream come true."

"Bringing back a show like that," Mark says, "is just an incredible opportunity for us both. We start recording in October and I can't wait. They'll be pencils and cabbages but we are definitely bringing it up-to-date for a modern audience."

Sam and Mark on the Road is at the Colchester Arts Centre on Tuesday, August 13. Doors open at 1.30pm, with the show starting at 2pm. Tickets are £12, £10 for concessions, available from the box office on 01206 500900 or on-line at