Home from panto at the beginning of January - my 15th season playing Dame and 7th
year for UK Productions; I loved playing The Grand in Blackpool - a wonderful theatre
for panto; the company was lovely and the audiences fantastic.
While I was up in Blackpool I managed to sneak over to Manchester to record a couple
of voiceovers for the Chessington World of Adventures TV campaign, which started
going out in January.
In April I was up in Liverpool for a couple of days filming a short scene
for Stephen Poliakoff’s new BBC 2 drama series Close to the Enemy.
It was great to be back with The British Theatre Playhouse for a fourth time to play
Brian Runnicles in the classic 70’s farce,
No Sex, Please - We’re British.
We rehearsed for two weeks in London before flying out to perform at Raffles in Singapore
and the Majestic Hotel in Kuala Lumpur - and the best bit was -
My wife, Lynette, was in the play too this time.
Other voiceovers during the year included Cushelle (the one with the Koala), the
NSPCC £1 Lottery, Dairylea, and The Discovery Channel.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
When we got back from Singapore I went straight into rehearsals for an open-air production
of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’m very grateful to Ian Hughes (who I performed with
in Guys & Dolls in Chichester last year) for giving me my first pop at The Bard.
I loved playing Snug (especially the Lion) and it was a really happy production (Rain
This year was my 8th season with UK Productions, and 16th consecutive Christmas playing
Dame. I was really excited to be playing The Theatre Royal, Bath; though it was slightly
daunting to be stepping into the boots of Chris Harris, who directed and played Dame
there for so many years.
Chris was my inspiration to play Dame; I was was Captain's Mate with him in my first
Dick Whittington, at The Theatre Royal, Plymouth
(starring Anita Harris, Bernard Cribbins, Andrew Sachs and Glyn Owen)
way back in 1987.
It was such fun doing classic routines with Chris and Bernard - especially A Little
Bit of Heaven, and an acrobatic act with Chris on invisible flying wires - I learnt
so much from them both.
It was also great to be back with some old friends this year: lovely Sarah Day (Princess
Jill), who I last worked with in Sleeping Beauty at The Anvil in Basingstoke in 2010
- she choreographed the show too, which was great, because she's very, very patient;
the delightful David Alcock (King) - we were both in Jack & The Beanstalk in New
Brighton a couple of years ago; David Barrett (Jack) - Great voice! - who I was with
in Aladdin in Malvern in 2008; and Director, Michael Gattrell, who I've known for
years but never actually worked with.
And if that wasn't enough there were all the new friends to make!
Jon Monie, who I'd seen in previous Bath Pantos - Really funny!
the irrepressible Katy Ashworth; and, of course, Nigel Havers (who I really enjoyed