THEY say you should never work with children or animals and I’ve done both of those, but no-one ever said anything about dinosaurs,” laughed Michaela Strachan.

Next week she brings the spectacular show Walking with Dinosaurs to Manchester Arena where her co-stars will be full scale, animatronic versions of some of the biggest creatures to have ever walked the earth.

The largest of them on stage is a Brachiosaurus, which is 36 feet tall and 56 feet from nose to tail and the scariest, without doubt, is a lifesize Tyrannosaurus Rex. Walking with Dinosaurs has cost over 20 million dollars and has taken a team of 50 more than a year to put together.

Michaela, who has become one of the most recognised faces on TV for presenting nature and wildlife programmes including the Really Wild Show, Countryfile and Springwatch, will be returning to her roots for Walking with Dinosaurs.

“I actually play a character in this show,” she said. “I’m a paleontologist called Huxley who takes the audience on a journey through over 200 million years.

“That’s what really appealed to me about being part of the show as I trained to be a performer. I trained in musical theatre and for many years I did pantomime playing roles like Peter Pan and Aladdin.

“As I got a bit older, I didn’t get offered those roles any more – I think the last panto part I was offered was as a fairy. Then I got the chance to do Walking with Dinosaurs. Fairy or paleontologist in arenas around the country? It wasn’t exactly a hard decision to make.”

For all her experience making wildlife programmes, Michaela admits that she’s no dinosaur expert.

“I suspect that the six-year-olds in the audience will know more about dinosaurs than me,” she said. “But thanks to the script at least I’ll sound like an expert.

“But it’s great that so many children are so passionate about dinosaurs. Their knowledge is unbelievable. They know all the different types of dinosaurs and what period they are from. They are really into it. So for them to be able to come along and see the dinosaurs on stage will be amazing.”

Now 52, Michaela first made her name as a children’s TV presenter.

“When I started in TV I did the Wide Awake Club with Tommy Boyd and Timmy Mallett,” she said. “Tommy had been in TV for 10 years at the time and I remember thinking that was amazing. I didn’t know how he had managed to do that for 10 years. And yet, here I am over 30 years later still doing it.

“If somebody had asked me then what I thought I’d be 30 years later, I would not have guessed that I would end up doing wildlife shows. But I have absolutely loved it.

“What I particularly love about my career now is the variety. Who would have thought that I would be doing a huge arena spectacle? It’s just really interesting what comes your way and the variety of things you are asked to do.”

To a certain generation Michaela will be forever associated with The Hitman and Her. a late night TV show which visited nightclubs around the UK which she presented with Pete Waterman.

“I think this show is a far cry from Hit Man and Her,” she said. “But then again, that was all very wild!”

Michaela has lived in South Africa for a number of years and remains a passionate advocate for wildlife.

She will spend the summer touring the UK with her larger than life co-stars.

“It’s only when you stand next to the dinosaurs that you fully appreciate how big they actually were,” she said. “To be able to transport an audience back in time is going to be amazing.”

Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular, Manchester Arena, Friday, August 3 and Saturday, August 4. Details from