Sunday, 29 November 2015

Bradford on Avon Christmas Lights

Had a great time switching on the Christmas Lights at Bradford-on-Avon on 
Friday night.

Lovely to meet the Mayor and the winners of the Christmas Lights Poster competition.

Wiltshire Times
Christmas countdown begins with lights switch on in Bradford on Avon
Richard Mills, Bradford on Avon reporter /  / News

Sunday, 22 November 2015

The Fine Times Recorder: Article

8th November 2015  
A charmer to chill and a dame to delight

When I told friends that I was going to meet Nigel Havers, the reaction was a universal sigh of envy. He is the embodiment of boyish good looks and irresistible charm,with a voice like fine wine and a CV that ranges from Oscar-winning films to Oscar Wilde on stage.
But this Christmas he will be donning the hideous make-up and swirling the slime-coloured cloak as the demon Fleshcreep in Bath Theatre Royal’s Jack and the Beanstalk. 
And he will be in his element “I always do villains,” he says, “because they are the best parts. I have a ball doing it. It is hard work but I enjoy it. I like scaring the kids!”

interviewpantoDemonNot all big stars do pantomime. Nigel says actors either love it or hate it and he loves it. He was taken as a child and has never lost a taste for this peculiarly English theatrical tradition.His panto villains have included Fleshcreep (which he last played at Southampton in 2013), the Sheriff of Nottingham, the wizard Abanazer in Aladdin and, perhaps his favourite, Captain Hook in Peter Pan. Nigel Havers has had a long and distinguished career  on the cinema and television screens, with roles that have ranged from the elegant Lord Andrew Lindsay hurdling to Olympic silver in the Oscar-winning 1981 film Chariots of Fire through television hits including Upstairs Downstairs, The Charmer, Don’t Wait Up, The Glittering Prizes, A Horseman Riding By, and more than 150 episodes of Coronation Street as the charming conman Lewis Archer, to a guest role in Downton Abbey.
On stage he has played Serge in Yasmina Reza‘s Art, Maxim de Winter in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt in Alan Bennett’s Single Spies, the celebrity guest star in The Play What I wrote, and he is currently on tour playing Algernon in a gloriously funny production of The Importance of Being Earnest, in which his co-stars include Sian Phillips as Lady Bracknell and his old chum Martin Jarvis as Ernest. The two originally played the same parts some 30 years ago at the National Theatre and had long planned to reprise their roles in a stylish “mature” production of the Oscar Wilde classic.

Standing up to the evil machismo of the demon Fleshcreep will be the feisty and colourful Dame Trott, mother of our hero Jack and his accident-prone brother Simple Simon, played by Bath favourite Jon Monie,. Jon had a long and successful festive season partnership with the late great Chris Harris, who played the dame in so many Bath pantomimes.

interviewJackdameNick Wilton, who plays Dame Trott, made his pantomime debut at Plymouth with Chris Harris, in 1987 and he cites Chris as his inspiration for playing the dame as a lovable clown character rather than a glamorous or Ugly Sisters style dame. His first dame was at Salisbury Playhouse, when he played Nurse Nelly in Robin Hood & The Babes in the Wood.
Away from pantomime, Nick describes himself as a “Jack of all trades” playing in many Ray Cooney farces and a wide range of roles from Ali Hakim in Oklahoma to Rosencrantz in Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, from Samuel Pepys to Sir Percy in Alan Bennett’s Habeas Corpus.
He has been in many television programmes including EastEnders, Doc Martin, Casualty, Heartbeat, Carrott’s Lib and many children’s shows.

Nigel and Nick have never played together before but both are looking forward to bringing this classic panto story to life for children and friends and family this Christmas in Bath.
The panto also stars Katy Ashworth from CBeebies as the Forest Fairy. Katy is an accomplished singer, actress and storyteller and also writes and illustrates stories for children.

Jack and the Beanstalk is at Bath Theatre Royal from 10th December to 10th January.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Guide 2 Bath Interview

Thanks Vivienne for making sense of my ramblings...  

Vivienne Kennedy interviews Nick Wilton who will be starring as Dame Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk at Theatre Royal Bath this Christmas.

In a few weeks time CBeebies presenter 
Katy Ashworth and professional charmer Nigel Havers will be making their way to Bath where they will star in the Theatre Royal’s pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk. 
They will be joined by panto favourite 
Jon Monie, who this year plays Simple Simon, and by Nick Wilton, who will be donning frocks and heels as Dame Trott. 
Recently I caught up with Nick during a press call at Bailbrook House Hotel for a chat about life as a pantomime dame.

You’re no stranger to the frocks and heels of a pantomime dame, having been playing the role since the turn of the century, which sounds so long ago...
Yes, such a shame I didn’t start a year earlier, so that I could have seen the new millennium in really, but I couldn’t get a “Dame” before that.
It took about three years to get one. I decided when I was 40 that I wanted to do it. I’d done a couple of pantomimes playing the comic when I was younger and doing kids telly, I did one in 1987 and the other in 1991, then in 2000, having seen a few programmes about Dames... I always like those TV programmes about “the business”...I thought “ooh, that really ties in with what I do”; I was doing lots of comedy sketches at the time. It seemed like a role that would really allow me to do all the things I like doing.
I started asking people if I they’d let me be Dame but I couldn’t find anyone, they all wanted someone who’d done it before. I was in Salisbury doing the farce See How They Run, asked there, and they said yes, I could do it. That was Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, in Salisbury, in 2000.

Has it been every year since or have you had some breaks?
Yes, every year since.

Is this your first time in Bath?
No, I’ve been to Bath a couple of times. I think the first time was in 1988 when I was in a farce with Brian Rix, Dry Rot, and then I think I’ve done a couple of other plays since – I was here as Samuel Pepys in a wig and there was something else, but I can’t remember what it was...another farce probably, Run For Your Wife.
This is my first Bath pantomime though because of course Chris Harris was always here...

Big footsteps to follow in...
Indeed. I did do my first pantomime with Chris though, so he has been my inspiration. I loved his clowning. I’m not a clown like him but we do have a similar style, very much a man in a dress.

Have you seen this year’s dresses?
They’re all mine. I’ve built up quite a wardrobe over the years.
There is one more I might buy; I’m going up to London on Tuesday to have a look at a possible finale costume. 
It’s easier in a way. When I started they were made for me, but as I’ve started working with different producers they do expect you to have a few of your own and the collection’s just built up over the years. I suppose I’ve got 15 or 16 now and I use about 10 in each show.
I tend to use the same 10 to be honest and I haven’t got any Aladdin ones...if I get in to Aladdin anywhere I have to beg, steal or borrow because I haven’t got anything Chinese themed, but I can normally get away with that.

Do you have a favourite?
There’s a very nice daisy one, which I got online from a person that I then found out runs the Music Hall Guild of Great Britain, which restores the graves of all the old stars. They just got Dan Leno’s, who was one of the great Dames; they’ve got the responsibility for looking after his grave...anyway, for some reason, this man made costumes too and this particular one is a short little dress with a Bo Peep hat.  I probably will be wearing that. It normally gets a laugh.

The Dame is quite a full on role...quite physical...10 costume changes alone are going to be quite tiring...
Yes, you’re either on stage or changing. Sometimes I think I quite like the beginning of the pantomime, because you do come on quite late, normally 10 or 15 or even 20 minutes into the show, but after that, yes, it’s full on.
The Dame didn’t used to have so many costume changes but it’s gradually become part of the tradition.
My costumes are very much character costumes, they’re not gags in their own know what I mean? I don’t come on dressed as an ice-cream cone or a box of fries.

How do you prepare? Do you have a fitness regime that you follow through the year?
Not really. Considering the size and shape I am, I’ve got quite a lot of energy!
I am trying to do a bit of cycling at the moment. If I’m at home and I need to go to the shops, I go by bike, and one of them’s up quite a big hill!

What are you looking forward to about spending Christmas in Bath?
Oh, just being here, I love Bath.
I found a nice place to have coffee, just near the theatre, yesterday, so I was pleased about that.
I haven’t been here for a few years, so it has changed a lot. It’s lovely though, it always has a nice ambience, and I do love the Pump Rooms. My wife’s coming down with me so I’m sure we will have a tea at some point. It's such a nice city to walk around.

When it comes to January will it be a relief to lose the heels, or will you miss them?
It normally is. Although I love doing it, it’s quite nice when January comes. We normally go on holiday, somewhere hot. I always figure we’ve earned it. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me this afternoon and I hope you have a lot of fun during your stay in Bath and enjoy your holiday afterwards.

 Jack and the Beanstalk opens with an evening performance on Thursday 10 December and runs until Sunday 10 January. 
There are no shows on Monday 14 and Friday 18 December and the cast are also given Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off. 
For the rest of the run there will be two performances each day, with the exception of New Year’s Eve when there is only a matinee.
For further information, including ticket prices, and to book online, visit

Bath 2015 Panto Launch

Photos from Jack & the Beanstalk panto launch at Bailbrook House Hotel