Ayo Sokale Talks … ‘Get Set Galactic’

Presenter Ayo Sokale is the red team captain in CBeebies kids science show Get Set Galactic.

The science-themed game show set on board the STARS space station pits two teams of young scientists against each other as they take on a meteoric mission of fun challenges to win out-of-this world prizes.

We spoke to Sokale about how she made the transition from Civil Engineer to television presenter and advocate for autism …

Please introduce yourself …

My name is Ayo Sokale. It’s a Yoruba name, I hail from – Nigeria and I’m from the Yoruba Tribe. I was born in the UK and [so] also British. I’m a Chartered Civil engineer, Project Team Manager, TV presenter, Coach, and baby author (I’m writing my first book). I was previously also an elected councillor and Deputy Mayor of Reading.
I also love to dance, sing, act; all the performing.

Describe your life right now in a word or one sentence …

I have always been obsessed by the story of Esther and the Luv Esther musical and it certainly feels like my,
For this very moment, is this why I am here’. It feels like every day I’m discovering why I’m here and what I’m meant to do.

Tell us about Get Set Galactic

Get Set Galactic is a fun science-based gameshow on CBeebies and BBC iPlayer in which young scientists visit S.T.A.R.S (Space Technology & Research Station). The two teams arrive – red team (my team) and green team and take on fun scientific challenges learning all about science and a growth mindset along the way.

What’s your role in it and how did the role come to you?

I’m the red team captain and one of the three presenters. I also act in the funny and education skits that run through the episode with the green team captain. I’d just finished filming for BBC Bitesize when the head of the production company Hello Halo came across me online and reached out to me. From this, I got involved in the show at the early development stage in 2021. I then filmed the pilot of the show, and the BBC commissioned it. We then filmed the series in 2022. I am so pleased to see it out in the world and being enjoyed.

In a world that’s rapidly evolving when it comes to science & technology how do we keep track of developments without feeling overwhelmed?

The world is full of knowledge and to avoid being overwhelmed I follow my interests and remind myself what is most important which is applying knowledge. This means growing a depth of understanding, discerning what you will pursue, understanding it and applying it for good use. By profession I am a civil engineer, which is a career grounded in application rather than research and knowledge gained alone. You can see this in the Institute of Civil Engineering (ICE)* Royal Charter Civil Engineering is the ‘art of directing the great sources of power in nature’ to improve society.

Though this is a show for young children, was there anything that you learned that surprised you as an adult?

Yes, I had no idea prior to the show that fossils were not the bones of prehistoric animals. I was shocked to learn it was not the bones left behind, but the imprint of the bones filled by minerals from the sediment and water.

From Civil Engineer to children’s show host please tell us a bit about your career journey, and why the decision to get into television?

I chose engineering at the tender age of 8/9 to make the world better and reduce the risk of flooding to communities after experiencing flooding myself. This passion took me through primary school, secondary school, college, university and becoming professionally qualified in my field and achieving at the very highest levels. My decision to do television I think came from a desire for a certain type of expression. As an autistic person, something that helped me was engaging in the performing arts as a child. I would find so much joy in the script, carving out characters’ rich inner lives to perform them in all their dimensions on stage. This love of performing would be the start of my desire to do TV. I initially thought it wasn’t possible. I remember writing to Bliss magazine as a teen asking why there were no faces like mine. However, my mum always said ‘do they have two heads?’ referring to people doing things I wanted to, having one head and being human just like me. This attitude would follow me through life. I wrote to BBC’s Blue Peter asking what a TV presenter needed to be and from that point, worked to achieve this goal.

Tell us a bit about your charity work …

My values require that I live with purpose and on purpose and this often leads me to roles to make a positive impact on communities and the wider world. Charity work is the heart of who I am. In my pre-teens I helped my mum with her endeavours and then in my teens used my platform as a beauty queen by partaking in social enterprise to improve the oncology wards for young children, founding an annual charity event in 2015 to raise funds for Derriford Hospital’s Children’s Cancer Service (DCCS). I also organised charity boot camps, a fashion show, ran a half marathon to support Sands, Rainbow Hospice, British Heart Foundation, RSPCA and Prospect Hospice. As well as singing in a harmony group fundraising for the starlight foundation and volunteering at the local homeless shelter. More recently I co-founded plastic free Caversham and achieving single plastic free accreditation under SAS Surfers Against Sewage and fundraising for a refill station.

Share a memorable moment filming this series?

Behind the scenes doing the pollination game myself, jumping into the ball pit and having a blast. I also loved goofing around with the young people, they were so bright, great fun to spend time with and asked the most insightful questions. I really loved working with the young people.

GETTING TO KNOW YOU

What’s your current plan B?

My plan is to do the things that I am meant for right now. And to build a community around me that support this highest vision. I have done a lot and I do a lot. As I pick up new endeavours, I often keep the old, layering demands on demands and thinking that’s the way forward, to be always everything. Wisdoms tells me this approach has run its course and I look forward to closing chapters and consolidating my efforts towards what I am meant for right now with faith for the future.

What’s made you Sad, Mad, Glad this week?

Sad, injustice around the world that I cannot effectively do anything about. Mad, seeing others who can’t speak up or defend themselves being harmed or bullied. It makes me so mad and motivate to have more ability and influence to stop this occurring in the world. Glad, being authentic sharing content on autism and seeing people find it helpful and message me. And receiving images of children’s drawings of Get set Galactic and hearing how much they love it.

What are you watching right now?

I’m rewatching Heroes – I like to rewatch shows as it’s comforting to have on in the background whilst I work. I also watching The Power for the first time, it’s a show about girls getting superpowers. I love fantasy; so much can be explored in fantastical worlds.

What are you reading right now?

I read and listen to multiple books at once. I currently have the following four books out of my local library – Think Like a Freak (Steven Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner) about how to think smarter about almost everything -it’s my 2nd time reading and it’s awesome. The 5 Love Languages of Children (Gary Chapman, Ross Campbell) – important read for my role as aunty and someone who works with kids. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) – it’s a huge book but I’m loving it. And Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution – which I’ve not started yet. I am also so excited to get my hands on the new Ali Hazelwood for my next relax and recuperation day.

What are you listening to right now?

I tend to listen to one song on loop for weeks at a time. My most recent obsession is Love Riddim by Rotimi and before that it was Running by Ladipoe, Fireboy DL which I listen to for 4 months straight till the dopamine wore off.

The last thing you saw on stage?

Book of Mormons.

What’s on your bucket list?

Being a Bond girl, a girl must have dreams. And producing a mainstream TV show about the Yoruba god’s such as Ogun and Oshun. It’s a story that will capture the imagination worldwide like the Greek myths have but show this rich and currently untapped history with its many wisdoms. It will create an opportunity for black performers and allow a better richer story to be narrated.

Where’s your happy place?

Reading on my windowsill or going for a walk along the river greeting the cute dogs I meet.

Celebrate someone else …

I am loving Candice Brathwaite, my older sister and I love to connect talking about her podcast. I love Candice’s realness, authenticity, self-love, brilliance, mastery of her art form in writing and speaking. I love her message of community and saying no to respectability politics and the superwomen narratives that harm black women. She is awesome.

Celebrate yourself …

I am proud of my consistency and faith in my dreams. I have big dreams and I am proud of the faith I have and the consistency I show in my daily actions to make them a reality.

Whose footsteps are you following in?

I learnt a long time ago to never try to be like someone else and follow their path as it’s unique to them and their strengths, So instead I seek to follow my vision of my future self and take steps each day towards her.

What’s Next?

Hopefully more TV presenting, acting and bringing my TV series and movies to reality. And finish my book.

Where can we find you?
Follow me on Instagram at @officalayosokale. Follow me on my website ayosokale.com, where I blog updates – from the world of engineering, sustainability and all my new projects and developments. That’s where I will share updates on my first book, Birth into the World.


Watch Get Set Galactic every Saturday and Sunday at 10:35am on CBeebies and BBC iPlayer.

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