With 21 years of pantomime magic under his belt, it’s about time producer Martin Dodd was awarded the key to the door at Blackpool Grand Theatre.
He’s worked in partnership with the venue for its seasonal special since 1996, a year after his UK Productions company launched.
Their first venture was Cinderella - starring Catchphrase comedian and presenter Roy Walker and presenter Jenny Powell, and this Christmas the same classic fairytale is being retold with an all-star line up of JJ Hamblett from Union J and Gavin and Stacey actress Melanie Walters joining Grand favourite Steve Royle, who marks his 15th year in the show.
Martin said: “It’s been a 21-year love affair with this magnificent theatre, that really is one of the jewels in this country’s theatre stock.
“Working alongside the amazing team at the Grand we have not only produced 21 pantomimes but also a number of musicals that have started their life in this beautiful theatre.
“It is the perfect place to watch a show and the audiences that we play to in the Grand are some of the best and most responsive in the country. They certainly enjoy all of the elements that make up a great pantomime.”
The Grand’s panto has featured a host of soap stars through the years, as well as home-grown talents such as Bernie and Maureen Nolan, Dan Whiston and Barney Harwood.
And while he comes from Chorley, comic Steve Royle has been adopted as one of the Grand’s - and Blackpool’s - own for his repeat performances during the past 15 years.
“This year marks 21 Years for UK Productions and to think I have been on 15 years of that journey is unimaginable from when I first started,” he said. “Christmas would be hard to imagine without pantomime in my life.
“My time at Blackpool’s Grand has been some of my most memorable years. I’ve worked with some incredible casts that have performed in panto who I now call close friends like Vicky
Entwistle, Danny Miller, Tom Lister and Su Pollard.”