Celebrities descend on Waterside panto

Andy Collins
Andy Collins
Have your say

Famous faces including Vernon Kay, Tony Hadley and Anthony McPartlin are flocking to this year’s Waterside panto.

Panto star Anita Dobson’s husband, Queen guitarist Brian May, and also Spandau Ballet singer Tony Hadley have already been spotted enjoying Sleeping Beauty.

And the celebrities will keep on coming with the famous pals of Andy Collins, who plays Chester the Jester, also planning to visit.

Andy, who lives in Aylesbury, revealed that when Brian May visited he created quite a stir backstage.

“He liked it very much,” said Andy.

“The man definitely has an aura about him, it was like having royalty backstage, people got quite giggly.

“He shook my hand and said, ‘Well done, it was a very good show.’ He also liked the Brian May gag at the end, and gave it his seal of approval.”

I won’t give that gag away, so as not to spoil things for those who haven’t seen the pantomime yet, but it’s just one of many feelgood moments in the show.

Another is The Twelve Days of Christmas which Andy has restored to the delight of regular panto goers.

He said: “I was worried about doing it because it’s the third time I’ve done it here. But at the first performance I heard people in the front row saying, ‘Oh, he’s going to do the Twelve Days,’ so I guess it’s my George Michael ‘Careless Whisper’. It’s what I’m known for. People are even coming tooled up with their own water pistols now!”

The energetic routine is having unexpected benefits for Andy, who has lost three inches around his waist.

He said: “Normally in panto, after The Twelve Days of Christmas there is a chance to recover off stage, but in this one I’m straight into another routine.

“It is exhausting. It’s our form of Celebrity Jungle. I’ve made it a goal now to lose weight by the end of the run.”

Speaking of Celebritiy Jungle, Andy’s pals Ant and Dec like to support him in his work, and Ant has told him he hopes to pop into the Waterside with his wife Lisa to watch the show.

Vernon Kay, with whom Andy has also worked, has booked tickets to see the panto with his wife Tess Daly later in the month.

Andy said: “The general response from the public has been amazing. I was shopping in Waitrose the other day and a lady came up to me and said, ‘Hello Jester’ and did jazz hands.”

The pantomime is on at the Waterside with matinee and evening performances until January 5.

Ticket prices vary and there are discounts for groups Box office 0844 871 7607.