Panto season is finally upon us!

Steve Royle (Smee), Jordan Lee Davies (Peter Pan), Tom Lister (Captain Hook) and Hayley Kay (Mrs Darling).
Steve Royle (Smee), Jordan Lee Davies (Peter Pan), Tom Lister (Captain Hook) and Hayley Kay (Mrs Darling).
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It’s that time of year again.

No it isn’t, oh yes it is, no it...

Actually, I’ll stop now. I think you get the idea – panto season is upon us.

Some may scoff and accuse pantomimes of being uncool or just for kids.

All I can say is I defy you to go and watch a production starring Steve Royle and not come away feeling good.

For the 11th year in succession, Royle is starring in the Grand Theatre’s annual panto, which, this year, is Peter Pan.

The obvious question then is are you not bored of them yet?

“Absolutely not,” says Royle, as if I’ve seriously offended him. “It is honestly my favourite time of the year.

“Being a stand up comedian I have a lot of friends in the business and around this time of year they’re all complaining and whining.

“They are out doing corporate functions and the like where people start drinking at three in the afternoon and are bladdered by the time the comedian gets on so they heckle and don’t listen.

“Whereas for me I come to a theatre, relax, get to mess around with a great cast, and then perform to an audience who are really enthusiastic and are there to enjoy themselves.

“I love it and that’s why I keep on doing it.”

This year’s panto opens at The Grand tomorrow and runs until Sunday January 5.

As well as Steve, it stars former Emmerdale bad boy Tom Lister, Jordan Lee-Davies from The Voice UK, and local favourite Hayley Kay, from Radio Wave.

Royle was relieved to find Lister, who plays Captain Hook, is a decent bloke.

“We’re very much a double act in this and so I was a bit worried about what type of person he was and would we get on,” said Royle.

“But he is fantastic and he’s also very funny, so we are looking forward to getting on stage and having a bit of a laugh.

“In fact the rehearsals have been so good I think we should go off as a double-act and do our own tour!”

Royle gets sent a script for the panto – then starts changing it.

“You always find with pantomime scripts that they use a load of old, very generic jokes,” he explained.

“So what I do is set about writing some fresh stuff and try and update it and make it my own style.

“I also have to put some juggling in because that is what I do. This year it’s all about juggling things you find on a ship, so mops, buckets, knives, that kind of thing.

“I am a bit worried about the knives though. I ordered them off a juggling website because they looked lethal. When they arrived turns out they are actually lethal, really sharp, and I almost took my head off a few times when I was practising.

“I’m still going to use them though, so it might be wise not to sit on the front row.”

This panto is very much a family affair for Royle. His daughters Daisy, 10, and Rosie, eight, are starring in it, while wife Janet will be behind the scenes helping out.

“The only one not in it is my youngest, six-year-old Lucy,” added Royle. “I think she’s holding out for her own TV show instead.”

Royle is a naturally funny man and if you’ve got kids, I implore you to get to this pantomime over the next month. I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.

Tickets for Peter Pan are available from www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk or by calling the Grand Theatre box office on 01253 743339.