Interview about how to become a Butlins Redcoat

Many young people dream of being a Butlins Redcoat and we get many requests at the website for information about how to become one.  So we thought it was about time we spoke with the Head of Entertainment at Butlins to find out all the information you need to know.

What does the job of a Redcoat involve?

There are three main Redcoat roles at each Resort:

  1. Redcoats are guest-facing at all times to the 1.3 million visitors who annually visit the three Resorts at Minehead, Bognor Regis and Skegness.They are the face of Butlins and seen as brand icons, the famous Redcoat jacket is synonymous with the Butlins brand.  The Redcoats host numerous live shows for which Butlins is so famous such as Bob the Builder, an interactive show with Bob and his friends Wendy and Spud, and they often support guest performers/entertainment such as Channel 5’s popular Milkshake kids show.  Redcoats run the various Kids Clubs, daily activities for kids split into clubs for various age groups.  Some of the activities include sports and games, arts and crafts and ‘skill gaining’ activities such as dance, music, circus skills, and areas within stage school.  As a result, the Redcoats undergo training in song, dance, street theatre and presentation skills.
  1. Redcoats that have some experience of working directly with children often join us as Kids Clubs Leaders. Their role is focused solely on the kids clubs activities and they undertake a supervisory role.
  1. Some Redcoats become ‘Costume Character Performers.’ Animated performers who help bring characters to life for children. As a character performer they deliver a wide variety of entertainment from Bob the Builder shows in Bob’s Yard, Angelina Ballerina Ballet classes, meet and greets, photo shoots, discos, Pantomime and in-house productions shows. Butlins also have their own in-house costume characters including Professor Potty, Puppet Master, Jingle Jester, Dino and Darwin, Daisy the Cow, Igor, and the PumpkinMan.. And not forgetting the most important of them all… Billy Bear, Butlins very own cuddly character

How old do you have to be to be a Redcoat?

Applicants have to be over 18 years of age.  The majority of current Redcoats are aged between 18 and 25 years.

How do you go about applying to be a Redcoat?

There are two methods of application

  1. We hold national auditions in various cities in theUK during November and December. The date, venue and times are published in national and local newspapers, in publications such as The Stage and on our Website,
  1. At other times of the year either call John Whybrow on 01643 700521 or send your CV to him.

What is the audition process like, what can applicants expect?

This year we introduced a new one-day audition process with formal interviews in the morning and lively interactive workshops in the afternoon.  Applicants tend to hear if they have been successful within a week or so.

How many people do you get applying each year to be a Redcoat?

We have around 150 Redcoats across the three Resorts, and we have thousands of applicants every year to try and gain a position.  As Redcoats are a brand in their own right and ambassadors for Butlins we are very selective.  Success is not only based on performing skills but a bigger emphasis is put on ability with people, cheerful personality, a team player and what we see as their potential as we do look at them for future Head Redcoats or members of the Entertainment Team.

What is the hardest thing about being a Redcoat?

Most Redcoats would probably say it is the need for constantly keeping high energy levels after all they are dealing with children for most of the day! The role is also tiring as it can be so energetic.  As brand ambassadors it is important that Redcoats look smart, are helpful to all guests and remain cheerful throughout each day.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a Redcoat?

Knowing that you have created magical memories for guests every year and being asked for your autograph by a child whose holiday you have made special.  It is also a great stepping-stone to a career on stage, in music and for TV.

Being a Redcoat is often seen by some as a great way to becoming a pop singer, dancer, actor etc. Can you name anybody that came through your ranks that has now gone on to become famous?

Recently they include H from Steps who has just joined the Big Brother House, Stephen Mulhern and Naomi Wilkinson the children’s TV presenters and actor Shane Ritchie.  Previous Redcoats has included Des O’Connor, Dave Allen, Jimmy Tarbuck, Johnny Ball and Ted Rogers.

However it isn’t only the Redcoat ranks that have spawned the stars of today; Status Quo formed at our Resort in Minehead when Frances Rossi and Rick Parfitt were working in a residential band there.  The band even returned to Butlins for the first gig of their 25th Anniversary Tour.  Cliff Richard formed the Shadows and Ringo Starr got the call to join the Beatles both whilst playing with residential bands.  MP Glenda Jackson worked in one of our coffee bars and Joe Pasquale’s first professional booking was at Butlins.

What advice would you offer anyone hoping to become a Redcoat?

Go to one of the Resorts and see what Butlins is all about.  This way you will know that the Hi-de-Hi image is very outdated, and see exactly how different the Butlins Resorts are today.  When attending an audition just be enthusiastic and energetic, basically be yourself then we can ensure that you are directed to the correct area for your ability and talent.  Often the candidates that are successful are not those that can sing and dance, as to a certain extent this can be taught, but those with an outgoing personality and hunger to succeed within the entertainment business.