COMIC CAPERS

Rutherglen Reformer - - News -

You could for­give Des Clarke if he was get­ting fed up of life in pan­tomime.

The King’s Park comic suf­fered a large gash on his shin when he took part in last year’s show at the King’s The­atre in Glas­gow.

And this year he’s found him­self crocked again - after be­ing run over by Cap­tain Hook’s boat and end­ing up with a bro­ken toe.

“Hook ran over my toe in his boat, which was painful and prob­a­bly the only time I’ll ever be able to say I’ve been in­volved in a boat­ing ac­ci­dent,” re­calls Des.

“He was pulling the boat off­stage, and I was still get­ting out the way of it, so now I’ve got a bro­ken toe.

“But it’s panto, so the show must go on - I seem to get a panto in­jury ev­ery year.

“I’ll take it though, be­cause I love do­ing it and it’s great fun.”

This is Des’s third year tread­ing the boards at the King’s, and the cheer­ful comic and ra­dio pre­sen­ter is clearly de­lighted to be back,

This year the for­mer Holy­rood pupil plays Starkey, a bum­bling hench­man of Cap­tain Hook, in the show.

“It’s my usual character in that he’s a daftie,” adds Des.

“I’m start­ing to think I’m get­ting type­cast but at least it means there’s not much act­ing in­volved in it for me.

“I’m ev­ery­one’s pal, and I get the kids to sing along and join in with ev­ery­thing.”

It’s been a busy year for Des, who con­tin­ues to per­form standup reg­u­larly and presents the break­fast show on Cap­i­tal Ra­dio.

How­ever his big­gest as­sign­ment this year was host­ing the clos­ing cer­e­mony of the Com­mon­wealth Games, watched by mil­lions of TV view­ers.

“That’s prob­a­bly go­ing to be the big­gest high­light of my life,” he says.

“To be do­ing that with so many peo­ple watch­ing, and for it to have such a great at­mos­phere, was un­be­liev­able - it was trend­ing world­wide on Twit­ter, which must be the first time I’ve ever been trendy, and I met Kylie af­ter­wards, too.”

Get­ting back to panto is another hon­our though, es­pe­cially as this year marks the 50th an­niver­sary of panto at the King’s.

Be­ing able to take part is some­thing that Des ap­pre­ci­ated, hav­ing gone to the King’s as a young­ster.

“I grew up go­ing to pan­tos at the King’s and there’s so many leg­endary names that have taken part in it, like Stan­ley Baxter, and Ger­ard Kelly.

“To be a part of it is a ma­jor hon­our, and some­thing that re­ally is a once in a lifetime op­por­tu­nity, be­cause there won’t be another 50th an­niver­sary panto ever again.”

Des is joined this year by panto new­comer Greg McHugh, best known from TV’s Gary: Tank Com­man­der.

He’s play­ing another of Hook’s crew, the pi­rate Smee, and the duo have won praise for their dou­ble­act.

“Greg and I have known each other since we were do­ing stand up to­gether years ago,” adds Des.

This is the first time do­ing panto for Greg whereas I’m like the Viet­nam veteran who’s go­ing back for one more tour, but he’s so good at do­ing character com­edy that he’s slipped right in.

“I do feel more con­fi­dent this year - it’s like ev­ery time you go back there’s less things to sur­prise you and you’re more used to it all.

“There’s such a lovely team at the King’s and that al­ways helps.”

That’s not to say this year’s panto has been to­tally plain sail­ing.

The role of Cap­tain Hook was orig­i­nally sup­posed to be played by Still Game star Gavin Mitchell, who pulled out due to health rea­sons.

His re­place­ment was Luther ac­tor War­ren Brown, who dropped out just days be­fore­hand for per­sonal rea­sons, leav­ing West End star Alex Bourne to step in with only a day’s no­tice.

“We’ve had three Hooks al­ready, it’s like a fight on the streets of Glas­gow,” says Des.

“Alex is tremen­dous though, he’s got an amaz­ing CV.

“What’s funny is that he’s per­formed in the West End for years, and now he’s play­ing Hook who doesn’t ac­tu­ally sing at all. But he came in with about 24 hours no­tice, and al­ready had most of the script down pat, and by day two he knew it all.

“It was a bril­liantly bizarre cou­ple of weeks, but Alex has re­ally helped to save it.”

Des will be ap­pear­ing in Peter Pan at the King’s from now through un­til Jan­uary 11.

Tick­ets are on-sale now priced at £9 – £25 and are avail­able by call­ing 0844 871 7648 or by vis­it­ing www. at­gtick­ets.com/glas­gow.

Get­ting His Groove On

Des dances in the panto

Panto-tas­tic the show

Des Clarke plays the pi­rate Starkey in

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