To me - to you! The Chuckle Brothers star in Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, their 51st panto

The Chuckle Brothers with Charlotte Haines in Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
The Chuckle Brothers with Charlotte Haines in Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
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This festive season, The Chuckle Brothers are starring in their staggering 51st pantomime.

Paul and Barry Chuckle are appearing alongside Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood as Queen Lucretia, and dance troupe Flawless in Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs at Mayflower Theatre.

Craig Revel Horwood in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Mayflower Theatre.

Craig Revel Horwood in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Mayflower Theatre.

They are playing the queen's henchmen.

But even before their first panto, the children's TV stars did their first summer season 52 years ago – on Hayling Island in 1965.

And by coincidence, that's where the show's Snow White, Charlotte Haines, comes from.

Paul says: 'We’ve been talking with our Snow White about Hayling – it's changed a lot though since then!'

The Chuckle Brothers in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Mayflower Theatre.

The Chuckle Brothers in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Mayflower Theatre.

'I think this only the third time we’ve done Snow White as a pantomime – Aladdin is probably the one we’ve done more than most.'

Although the pair started in the '60s, they were performing for more than 20 years before they landed the TV show that propelled them to stardom.

'We’d already been going for 23 years working club, summer seasons and pantomimes, it was constant, before that happened,' says Paul.

'In '67 we won Opportunity Knocks with Hughie Green, then in '74 we won New Faces and we were on the winners show, with Lenny Henry and Marti Caine. And Nick Thomas, of Qdos, who puts these pantos on – he doesn’t like us saying this, he was a putppeteer – he was on that winners show with us, and that was the first time we met him.

So we had done loads of TV, and then we got the break with Chucklevision.'

And it was heeding their comedian dad's advice that they still credit with helping them.

'Our dad told us, you never know who’s going to be in the audience, so whatever show you’re doing, and how many people are in, always give it your best.
'We always tell people who are newcomers in panto, you get an afternoon when there’s a load of pensioners in and it might seem a bit quiet, that you don’t go: "Oh, I’m going to walk through this," because that’s the times when people come into watch from other theatres to see it -so always give it 100 per cent and they’ll go out saying you were the best thing in the show.'

The duo were compering a live tour of children's TV show, Roger The Dog, and were playing to barely 30 people at a theatre near Manchester.

'There was someone in from BBC who saw us in that, and that’s how we got Chucklevision,'

Chucklevision ran for more than 20 years, cementing their reputation as comedy legends, and introducing their catchphrase: 'To me, to you' in to pop culture.

'It was just something we always did,' explains Barry, 'when we were moving something, that’s all we ever did. We put it in one of the first episodes of Chucklevision, moving a sofa, and then people started shouting at us in the street, and we thought, where have they got that from?

'Then we realised. The public made it a catchphrase for us.'

But they love doing panto.

'It’s fun working with people you wouldn’t normally work with, says Barry. 'It suits us down to the ground – people have always said it’s our type of humour.

Paul continues: ''And it’s the only time of the year you get to work with guys like this – like Flawless or Craig, and a load of actors.

'Most of the rest of the year, you’re working on your own. The lads like Flawless will go in a theatre and do their show and bang, they go to the next one, but with this you do five, six weeks together and get to know them we follow each other on Twitter, we’re cool now!'

Speaking of 'cool', two years ago, the brothers found themselves in front of a very different kind of audience when they played at Bestival on the Isle of Wight.

'We were on at 4.30 in the afternoon in The Big Top and they estimated they had about 13,000 people in there, and it was 15, 16 deep outside with people trying to get in,' recalls Paul.

'That was the very first festival we’d ever done. We were on after Dinosaur Pile-up, great band, heavy metal, and we were at the side of the stage rocking away.

'They came off and we went back to have a quick drink with them. I went back to the stage to have a look again 15 minutes before we were due on and it was empty, the cleaners were in there. Everyone had gone. We were a little bit worried.

'Five minutes before we were due on, though, it was packed. It was absolutely fantastic.'

Mayflower, Southampton

Until January 7

mayflower.org.uk