By Jacqui Morley
Panto. The very name will either fill you with terror and foreboding – or a real sense of the fun of the festive season proper.
Much has been made of actor Sir Tony Robinson’s horror of pantomime - and his determination to avoid it like the very plague.
The actor, comedian, amateur historian, TV presenter and political activist is back treading the boards in a very winter’s tale .
He stars as the narrator in a Royal Opera House production of The Wind In The Willows – this very month to February.
And, as local actor Gordon Taylor, 56, of St Annes, mused: “If that’s not panto ... what is? It’s as near as darn it. It has slapstick, farce, the works.”
Gordon’s a diehard thespian and says pantomime is the toughest theatrical discipline of all.
He’s yet to appear in a professional production but has played the Dame on the amateur dramatic circuit in Greater Manchester for some years.
Since he’s moved to St Annes he’s been shopping around for local amdram groups to join – and has already booked to take his grandson to The Tower’s circus-panto Cinderella’s Christmas Circus and Peter Pan at the Grand Theatre.
Grandson Peter, six, can’t wait to visit the circus but is less thrilled at the thought of the theatre.
“It’s a funny looking building,” he says. “I like The Tower. I’ve been to the top. I want to see the circus.”
Two other members of Gordon’s extended clan, daughter in law Kay Thompson, of Kirkham, and her stepdaughter Chloe, eight, are looking forward to a Grand day out.
Chloe, who debuted in nativity two years ago, has already got the acting bug and is a member of a local dance group. Stepmum Kay says: “Panto’s part of the magic of Christmas. I like the Grand’s show because there are proper actors involved .
“I’d love to see Baldric (Tony Robinson) in a proper panto because he’s got the face and voice and acting ability to carry it off and show other people how it’s done – like Sir Ian McKellen did year ago.”