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Stars of EastEnders, Coronation Street and TV shows in panto across Kent talk about their Christmas Day

By Angela Cole

Stars appearing in panto across the county have been telling us about their perfect Christmas Day and how will be spending the day this year.

Shaun Williamson: Captain Hook in Peter Pan at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

“Christmas? I don’t get one! When you’re in panto, Christmas Day is a day off.

Former EastEnder Shaun Williamson as Captain Hook in the Marlowe Theatre's panto, Peter Pan
Former EastEnder Shaun Williamson as Captain Hook in the Marlowe Theatre's panto, Peter Pan

“But you could also say Christmas lasts much longer because you’re coming in to do panto every day, with its atmosphere and spirit.”

“After the second Christmas Eve show, Christmas starts and I see my son and daughter, who are grown-up now. I’ll spend Christmas Day with my fiancée and we’ll open presents with my mum. Then we have a breakfast, go for a walk and go to the pub... and then by 6pm we’re immovable objects watching something the telly!”

“I have the perfect antidote to Christmas in January, too, as I do cabaret, and so I will be heading to the West Indies and Scandinavia to sing with P&O ships in January. I enjoy singing. In panto you don’t really get the chance to show your singing skills.”

The show is on until Sunday, January 14. For tickets call 01227 787787, or go to marlowetheatre.com

Shaun Williamson, who lives near Maidstone, is Captain Hook in the Marlowe Theatre's panto Picture: Paul Amos
Shaun Williamson, who lives near Maidstone, is Captain Hook in the Marlowe Theatre's panto Picture: Paul Amos

Michael Greco: Abanazar

Starring in Aladdin at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells

“I’m vegetarian but when it comes to Christmas dinner, I have to have turkey.
“I’m from a big Italian family so I can’t sit and have nut roast while everyone else has turkey.
“But I don’t miss meat at all the rest of the time.

“For Christmas I just want all my family to be happy and healthy. Material things mean nothing to me really – so please don’t get me anything.

Michael Greco is playing Abanazar in panto in Tunbridge Wells Picture: Phil Lee
Michael Greco is playing Abanazar in panto in Tunbridge Wells Picture: Phil Lee

“I do drink a bit of mulled wine and we will play games, but I’m very competitive, and I can’t let people win, even if they’re children!

“I don’t think I’ll watch much telly. I remember the days when you’d all have to watch the Only Fools and Horses Christmas Special – you just couldn’t miss it.”

Aladdin runs until Wednesday, January 3.
Tickets from £10. Call 01892 530613 or visit assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk.

Former EastEnder Michael Greco
Former EastEnder Michael Greco

Our full guide to panto across Kent

Rob Forknall: Nanny

Starring in Sleeping Beauty at The Woodville, Gravesend

“Christmas Day is a day off; when you’re in panto you have to manage your energy, so you can’t go mad. My parents live near Maidstone so I will be heading back to their farm. My brother has three kids so I will go to their house for Christmas dinner. If I don’t fall asleep, I will go and play games and go to bed.

Rob Forknall is Nanny in Sleeping Beauty which is at The Woodville, Gravesend, until New Year's Day
Rob Forknall is Nanny in Sleeping Beauty which is at The Woodville, Gravesend, until New Year's Day

“But the most important part of Christmas is Doctor Who. I love it. I have to watch it on my own, because I can’t have people talking through it. Only breathing is allowed.

“It is going to be interesting with a woman – I can’t wait! I love Peter Capaldi though, I think he’s brilliant.”

“I try to keep January free and go on holiday to recover from panto, and after that we will be getting stuck into organising the Changeling Theatre summer tour across the county (I am artistic director).”

Sleeping Beauty is at The Woodville until New Year’s Day, with tickets from £14. Book at gravesendpanto.com

Louie Spence: Dandini

Starring in Cinderella at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford

“I like to be in as good a shape as possible for panto to give the best performance I can – it’s always a long run and I just can’t make it through if I’m not.

“But when it comes to Christmas dinner, it’s with all the trimmings. And lots of Christmas pudding... there might even be cream!

Louie Spence with Michelle Collins in the Orchard Theatre's panto, Cinderella
Louie Spence with Michelle Collins in the Orchard Theatre's panto, Cinderella

“Then I will lie down on the floor and feel very sick. That is my perfect Christmas Day.”
“Then I have a few days to recover and in January I start filming my new show, which is me being me.”

Cinderella is at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford until Sunday, December 31. Tickets from £18. To book go to orchardtheatre.co.uk or call 01322 220000.

Louis Spence at the Dartford panto
Louis Spence at the Dartford panto

Chris Pizzey: Wishee Washee

Starring in Aladdin at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells.

“I love coming to Tunbridge Wells. My wife’s parents live in Cranbrook, so that is where we will be spending Christmas.

“Having young kids, going away for Christmas is hard, which is what I’d be doing if I wasn’t in this panto, but luckily we can all be together.

“It is such a special time of the year, just being together, eating and having fun. And I love to play with the kids. I am a big kid. My wife says she has three children.”

Basil Brush Show star Chris Pizzey will be spending Christmas in thw Weald Picture: Phil Lee
Basil Brush Show star Chris Pizzey will be spending Christmas in thw Weald Picture: Phil Lee

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