Cul­ture vul­ture

Lo­cal ra­dio per­son­al­ity Peter Gor­don will be swap­ping the air­waves for the stage when he stars as an Ugly Sis­ter in Cin­derella at the Yvonne Ar­naud The­atre. He tells Si­mone Hel­lyer what he loves about panto and his home town of Guild­ford

Surrey Life - - Culture Vulture -

Have you been in panto be­fore? This is the 13th panto I’ve done in Guild­ford and I did a cou­ple of runs in Wok­ing and Alder­shot a few years ago too. Pan­tomime is still re­ally pop­u­lar and is one of the last bas­tions of va­ri­ety in this coun­try, I think. Do­ing panto is a com­mit­ment, you’re do­ing 53 shows over a run, but you want to make ev­ery sin­gle one of those 53 the best one you’ve done. It is one of the big­gest priv­i­leges that I’ve had and it’s a thrill to be a part of it ev­ery sin­gle year.

What can you tell us about the char­ac­ter you’re play­ing in Cin­derella? I’m go­ing to be play­ing one of the Ugly Sis­ters. This is my third time play­ing the role, but each pan­tomime I do is al­ways dif­fer­ent. So my ‘ugly’ this year is a ro­bust but ever so slightly blunt and not the most in­tel­li­gent, which may prove to be quite easy for me to play. The Ugly Sis­ter is the dame’s shadow side and what I like is that it’s an ex­cuse for you to be booed. It’s all very nice be­ing clapped and cheered, but there is some­thing very sat­is­fy­ing about get­ting a boo.

How do you feel about dress­ing in drag? I don’t think about it as dress­ing in drag – I’m very much a man in a dress. We have fan­tas­tic cos­tumes at the Yvonne Ar­naud The­atre by Jamie At­tle Cos­tu­miers and the great thing about play­ing a dame is that the cos­tumes give you a great in­tro­duc­tion, so you’ve got to make sure that you do a good per­for­mance off the back of that.

You are Guild­ford born and bred – what keeps you in the town? I love Guild­ford be­cause there’s such a lovely her­itage and there’s al­most an ex­tro­vert feel­ing about the place that I quite like be­cause it suits my char­ac­ter – both in and out of pan­tomime. I think the town can some­times be un­der­rated, but I think there are some won­der­ful things about Guild­ford. You can walk to one end of the road and be in the town within a few min­utes or walk the other way and en­joy rolling coun­try­side. How did your ca­reer in ra­dio come about? I’ve been in ra­dio for 32 years. Ea­gle Ra­dio launched in 1996 and I was the per­son who launched it – 7.45am on Jan­uary 9, 1996. We’re part of a group of ra­dio sta­tions across the coun­try run by UKRD and I’m on the se­nior pro­gram­ming board for the com­pany as well, so it keeps me off the streets any­way. To be on a ra­dio sta­tion that has that much im­pact and in­flu­ence on its lo­cal area is a priv­i­lege.

What do you en­joy most about your job? Know­ing you can make a dif­fer­ence – we be­lieve in proper lo­cal ra­dio and mak­ing a dif­fer­ence to the ar­eas that we broad­cast to. Mak­ing a dif­fer­ence can be help­ing some­one who’s called in, en­ter­tain­ing peo­ple with a song or even in­form­ing peo­ple with travel news, so they don’t get stuck in traf­fic.

You must have in­ter­viewed a lot of celebri­ties in your time, who has been your favourite? I usu­ally rate it along who I’ve been more ner­vous about, so I al­ways re­mem­ber be­ing re­ally ner­vous about in­ter­view­ing Sting. But it was a great thing to do and he was ex­cel­lent. In more re­cent times Olly Murs be­cause he’s a re­ally de­cent guy and un­der­stands how it all works for us.

Peter Gor­don will be per­form­ing in Cin­derella at the Yvonne Ar­naud The­atre from De­cem­ber 7 to Jan­uary 6. Web: yvonne-ar­naud.co.uk

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