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Veteran #GRANDpanto Star – Steve Royle

But this year tops the lot with Steve taking his bow as “Grand panto legend.”

“It’s very flattering to have gone up another notch but it’s a bit scary too – normally you’ve got to be dead to become a legend, like Elvis or Buddy Holly,” says Steve.

He’s also aware that what becomes a Grand legend most is the part he will be seen as playing in the theatre’s history.

“I worked it out the other day that I’ve been in Grand pantos for something like 15% of the venue’s existence. One day in the future when someone is looking back on the history of the place they might think “well he was here all that time – and he was rubbish!”
It seems unlikely.

But the popular comedian, BBC Radio Lancashire presenter, actor and writer is the first to admit that coming up with new material for the annual production is the biggest pressure he faces all year.

“Thinking of new ideas which also fit in with peoples’ expectations never gets any easier. I can’t tell you how nervous I get about opening night. All those people expecting me to be funny. But it does give me a real boost.”

He’s also aware that if 15 minutes is a long time in politics, 15 years at the same venue is almost an eternity – not to mention the time he served as resident court jester at Camelot theme park in Charnock Richard.

“I was working somewhere recently and one of the camera assistants who I’d put in the same age bracket as me said he’d bring in a photo he had of us both at Camelot,” says Steve. “The only trouble is I was in my jester’s outfit – and he was in a pram!”

It’s a bit like that when he meets fans at the Grand who were five or six when they first saw him in panto – and now they bring their own children.

But so does he. During his panto career, he has become a dad three times.

“I had to stop then – I can’t juggle any more three at once.”

He is, of course, more or less joking but then again juggling has been an important part of his act since he first learnt in 1990.

Anyone familiar with his performances will know he can just about juggle anything – from guitars to bean bags and beyond.

“The trouble is I was performing with Paddy McGuinness recently and I fell off the stage. I mean properly fell – not as part of the act. And I hurt my wrist for real.

“My first thought was I’ll never be able to juggle guitars’ again!”

Thankfully he’s pretty much healed up now – but Cinderella audiences probably won’t be seeing flying guitars.

“The best lesson I learned was about 10 years ago when I was in Dick Whittington and the director said, ‘what’s the point of jugging guitars when they have nothing to do with the story?’

So, he adapted to mops and buckets and anything else he could lay his hands on from the props.

“It might be rats or pumpkins for Cinderella – I’ll have to have a think about it,” he said.

Strangely showbusiness wasn’t his first option.

“I studied history at university and just assumed I’d be a teacher at the end of it all,” says. “But I kept delaying it as the performing side began to take off. So, I’ve never really had a proper job. I was a doctor’s receptionist for a bit but it was awful and I did some removals when I was in

London but it was a bit too much like hard work.”

So, does he ever think about retiring?

“I love the Lake District and when I’m on holiday I sometimes think it would be nice to run a coffee shop,” he says. ”But it would end up combining coffee and cabaret – and people might not take too kindly to me juggling their cups and saucers as part of a stand-up routine!”

Interview by: Robin Duke

Ticket still available for Cinderella, get them either on our website by clicking here, or call our Box Office on 01253 290190.