Bradley Walsh is a man who can’t say no. Quiz shows, chat shows, documentaries, straight acting – he’s done it all and intends to keep doing them all.
So he jumped at the chance of returning to Milton Keynes Theatre for this year’s Christmas pantomime, Peter Pan.
“I absolutely love panto!” he declared when I met him.
Bradley stars as Smee, with cult Rocky Horror musical star, David Bedella as Hook, Flawless play the nimble-footed pirates, Victoria Tyrell is Wendy and George Ure flies off with the title role of Pan.
Bradley has twice appeared in panto at the venue and he proved box office gold. They called it “The Bradley Effect” and he became panto’s biggest star.
It has taken Milton Keynes seven years to get him back but Bradley is delighted.
“I love working in panto,” he told me. “We have a fantastic time. If I was in the West End I’d have to sign up for something for nine months.
“Here I can come and do panto, which will have all the same production values and more and I’ll play to packed houses for five weeks.
“I literally have a six week hole in my diary and I’ve fitted this in.
“I read reviews of a panto last year that starred David Bedella and Flawless and it was a no-brainer. Besides which Milton Keynes Theatre is my favourite theatre.
“We have a seriously good show. We’re so lucky to have a tremendous cast”.
Watford-born Bradley, 54, is in tremendous demand. On screen he currently presents hit game show, The Chase, can be seen fronting a show celebrating TV detectives and he is the star of the hugely successful Law & Order UK.
He used to play professional football in his youth and was even on the books of Dunstable for a time.
“I’ve never been able to say no – and I don’t want to. I’ve got plenty of time to sit down with my feet up when I’m older.
“They say how do you make an actor moan? Give him a job. Well I absolutely love my job.
“And I do panto because I absolutely love it. I get to let my hair down for five-plus weeks and there’s no time to let my hair down in any other job.
“Three shows a day? Why not? I’m here anyway. It’s what I love. I wouldn’t moan at four shows a day!
“I say to every young performer who asks me, do absolutely everything you can lay your hands on because in one way, shape or another, you will learn something from the job.
“I love Law and Order but we’re resting it for a while. It will definitely come back, it’s not axed.
“But at the moment I’m going to go to Spain to film a new comedy drama for the BBC called Woody. Filming for that ends five days before I start rehearsals for panto.
“Everyone knows me from playing Danny Baldwin in Corrie, which was a straight role and Law and Order, another really straight role and sometimes quite upsetting.
“It will be great to do a comedy. We’d done more than 60 episodes of Law and Order and I just needed a bit of time off. The shooting schedule was relentless”.
“In Woody I’m a bar owner in Spain who gets involved with an investigative journalist. It’s a cross between Magnum and Minder!”
Peter Pan runs at Milton Keynes Theatre from December 5 to January 11.