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This Morning doctor Dr Ranj on panto and Strictly ahead of Mother Goose at the Marlowe Theatre

Can one person fit in live appearances on ITV’s This Morning as well as panto on stage in Canterbury, some 60 miles away? If anyone can, it’s Medway’s TV doc, Dr Ranj.

The energetic professionally trained doctor, who’s light on his feet and famous on our screens for appearances on This Morning, CBeebies’ Get Well Soon, Save Money Lose Weight, and of course, BBC’s Strictly, plans to pack in everything he can into his diary this festive season.

At the Canterbury Christmas lights switch-on Picture: Andy Jones
At the Canterbury Christmas lights switch-on Picture: Andy Jones

He may have already had a busy calendar, but when Evolution Productions came calling for his very first panto appearance at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, he couldn’t resist.

“I think life is for living,” he says. “If you are lucky enough to have opportunities, grab them with both hands. I have always been fascinated by panto,” he says. “I love watching it. And I am in awe of those guys (his panto colleagues, including Canterbury’s Ben Roddy and Thanet’s Lloyd Hollett) - I always thought I’d love to do that one day. When they asked me I thought ‘absolutely - please’.”

At the Canterbury Christmas lights switch-on Picture: Andy Jones
At the Canterbury Christmas lights switch-on Picture: Andy Jones

He’ll be taking on the role of Billy Goose in the Canterbury theatre’s production this Christmas, Mother Goose, which opens its doors on Thursday, November 28. For his panto debut, he will star alongside panto greats including Ben Roddy, as Mother Goose, who marks his tenth year in panto at the Marlowe this year, and who was named Dame Of The Year at the Great British Pantomime Awards for his role in Peter Pan in 2018 and nominated for Best Ugly Sister for his role in Cinderella in 2018/19. Fellow panto veteran Lloyd Hollett is one year behind with nine years under his belt.

For a full round-up of pantos this Christmas click here.

For Ranj, after training in medicine, his TV and now theatre work is giving him an extra buzz as well as an extra outlet.

He said: “It is a bit of escapism. It is a bit more creative, a bit more fun. Most people know I’m a doctor, but I have this other career.

“I always had a more creative side. I never really had a chance to develop that much.”

Dr Ranj with Strictly partner Janette Manrara Picture; Aaron Chown/PA Photos
Dr Ranj with Strictly partner Janette Manrara Picture; Aaron Chown/PA Photos

Appearing on the BBC’s Strictly, has also got him hooked on the dancing bug. He admits he now dances on a very regular basis, and he has also been joining the odd warm-up session alongside the show’s dancers. He is looking forward to showing audiences just what he can do. “It has given me the bug and I’m looking forward to dancing on stage. I don’t have much singing, but a bit of rapping.”

Despite years of studying medical books, he admitted learning lines was harder than he thought. “I have felt like I’m going back to square one.”

He may live in London now, but as a local boy - he still has family in the Chatham area - he will be able to stay at home for some of the show’s run, and staying in Canterbury for some of it.

“I have never really spent much time here I want to be near the city and near work,” he says. “My family will definitely be coming to see the show. They have seen me on screen and in the Strictly studio, but this will be different. It is about being light and funny. I am trying to bring that side of it.”

With Whitstable actress Jenna Russell
With Whitstable actress Jenna Russell

He will be joined by Whitstable-based actress Jenna Russell - best known for playing Michelle Fowler in EastEnders - will play Fairy Goodfeather. She has also appeared in Call The Midwife, The Paradise, Holby City, and Doctor Who. Writer, co-producer and director, Paul Hendy, of Evolution Productions, said: “To have Dr Ranj at The Marlowe for his panto debut is absolutely fantastic. Mother Goose is quite simply going to be our biggest and funniest panto yet.”

The show runs from Thursday, November 28 until Sunday, January 12. To book go to marlowetheatre.com or call 01227 787787.

To find out what’s going on in the county and for all the latest entertainment news click here.

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