‘Pantomime ticks all of the boxes for everyone’

All hands on deck ' Brian Conley is back at the Mayflower Theatre in December.
All hands on deck ' Brian Conley is back at the Mayflower Theatre in December.
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Comedian, presenter, singer, actor and king of pantomime Brian Conley is returning to the Mayflower Theatre this year to star in Robinson Crusoe.

Last year the actor played Fagin in a sold-out run of Oliver at the Southampton theatre, and he was onhand when the pantomime was launched at the Southampton Boat Show last week.

It may be a few months until Christmas, but Brian is looking forward to returning to the role, which he played at the Birmingham Hippodrome last year.

He says: ‘It feels like a long way off now, but the show did so well. It will be good to get back to it. Last year we performed to around 120,000 people and made something like £3.5 million.

‘Southampton has such a sensational theatre. It’s a big space and it needs to be to handle such a big show. Our opening scene has a lot of dry ice and then a huge pirate ship comes on stage.

‘And I love working with the rest of the cast. We are all professionals, so we give it everything we’ve got.’

For Brian, who has regularly performed in pantomimes over the years, it’s a job he relishes.

‘Pantomime ticks all the boxes,’ he explains.

‘The audience follows me through pantomime land. In the story my father is on his death bed and gives my mother a book to give me on my 21st birthday. It always draws big laughs because I’m obviously not 21.

‘I have to drive it and tell the story. I’m very proud of spending the past two years doing it, and having the chance to do it again.’

The one year he didn’t perform in panto, he missed it.

Brian says: ‘It just didn’t feel like Christmas. It’s like a big variety show and I can see myself doing it for the forseeable future.

‘There is always a very high benchmark with a lot of pantomimes. But I think Robinson Crusoe is a great family show.’

Brian will be on tour this autumn with An Evening With Brian Conley, and he performs at the Grosvenor Casino, Gunwharf Quays, on October 18.

Tickets: £14 to £25 from the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, on (023) 8071 1811 or go to mayflower.org.uk.