Goodies and baddies

What ever happened to The Krankies? They’re doing panto of course. They duo join a host of actors, soap stars and reality TV personalities who refuse to put their careers behind them 

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Demon Vanity in Mother Goose at Sheffield Lyceum, 8 Dec-7 Jan 
Best known for: Playing Mateo in ITV’s Benidorm

You’re playing Demon Vanity in this panto. How evil are you? 
Pretty villainous. I’m going to stay away from the old-school classic baddy though, because times have moved on. I’m going to play him slightly closer to my character in Benidorm: quite naughty, vain and self-obsessed. The first year I did panto I was Ebenezer, which is quite an evil nasty baddy and kids would scream and cry the minute I walked on.

Is Benidorm as much fun to make as it looks? 
Absolutely. We have loads of laughing fits. It’s very much like panto. We encourage each other to mess up while we’re filming, sometimes to the annoyance of the director. It could be a lot worse. We film around a pool in blazing sunshine and have little breaks between scenes by the pool, rather than in a cold trailer. I can’t grumble.

The actual resort of Benidorm is, shall we say, an acquired taste. Do you not get sick of the sight of beer-swilling Brits?
The place has got real heart if you get to know it. It’s funny how it’s grown on all of us over the years and we very strongly defend the place. It’s very easy to judge places like that, but there’s a lot to love about Benidorm. It’s a great family resort. We’re all very fond of it.

You started out as a dancer for pop groups. What’s the worst video you’ve appeared in?  
I can’t even remember all the pop videos I’ve been in – from Kylie Minogue to Take That. I’ve been on probably over 100 Top of the Pops performances. I toured the world with Bananarama, Annie Lennox, the Spice Girls. It was the days before YouTube and phones, so nothing really exists online from that time. I’ve got two big boxes of VHS tapes in the garage. Funnily enough, I think the terrible ones are all on YouTube.

You’ve also done a sprinkling of reality TV, including Celebrity Wedding Planner. What was that like?
It went alright surprisingly, but it was crazy. I don’t know if they’re still together. I also did Splash. That was like a death wish. You don’t realise how dangerous it was until you’re standing on a 10m board and Tom Daley asks you to do a handstand and somersault forward. You’re there going, ‘Why did I ever agree to this?’


Buttons in Cinderella at Southport Theatre and Convention Centre, 5 Dec-6 Jan 
Best known for: Being a soap star and husband of Linda Lusardi

Sam Kane

Hi Sam. You’re something of a pantomime veteran these days. What keeps you coming back?
Panto for me is all about entertaining everybody from the three year olds right the way through to the grannies. It’s a brilliant, fun thing to do. So, it’s really fortunate that I’ve been doing it for 32 years. Jesus Christ, I sound old. I started out when I was 16. That’s a long time ago.

What are some of your favourite panto experiences? 
Meeting my wife is obviously at the forefront. I met my wife in 1993 in Darlington. I was the Prince and Linda was Snow White and 24 years on we’re still blissfully happy. The fairytale continues. We’re a very unusual couple in show business in that we’re still very happily married. Some of the dwarfs from Snow White came to the wedding.

And how about when things go wrong onstage? 
About 99 per cent of the things that look like they are spontaneous are rehearsed. Sometimes it does genuinely happen and there was a time when I was the Prince. The stage was dark. I went to pick Linda up and got a handful of hairy thigh. I thought, ‘Jesus Christ. She’s a bit rough.’ And, of course, it was [Crackerjack’s] Stu Francis. Kissing him wasn’t my favourite career move, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

Your daughter Lucy appeared on The Voice earlier this year. Were you proud?
I cried like a baby when the [judge’s] chairs turned around. I’m not a big fan of those talent shows. I think they get a lot more out of the contestants than the contestants get out of them. But I figured if there was ever going to be a time to do it, this would be it and everything worked to plan. You wouldn’t have been able to pay for the amount of PR that she got off the back of it.

Do you personally share any character traits with Buttons?
I fall in love very easily. I’m loyal. I’m a hard worker and I’m also a little bit dipsy at times. So, yeah, I share a lot of those qualities. It’s the first time I’ve played the outright comic, so I’m really looking forward to it.


Star in Dick Whittington at Manchester Opera House, 9 Dec-7 Jan  
Best known for: Being unlikely showbiz legends   

The Scottish Sun has declared 2017 the year of The Krankie in honour of both of you turning 70. What’s the key to your lasting popularity?
Janette: I’m transgender. Maybe that’s it? At the end of the show I come on as Madonna singing Miniature Girl instead of Material Girl and I’ve got the whole outfit on with the basque and a G-string up my bum.
Ian: Jimmy’s a tranny [laughs]. The secret is we’ve changed with the times. We’ve kept topical. Janette has been Amy Winehouse…
Janette: I’ve been Beyoncé. I’ve been on the wrecking ball. I’ve been everybody.

David Hasselhoff is among the many people that you’ve starred in panto with. What was he like?
Ian: We got on very well with him as a person, but he was maybe not quite on our planet. He was playing Captain Hook and he had a bad knee at the time, so he had one arm and a bad knee.
Janette: The sword fight wasn’t very good.
Ian: He used to keep apologising to me for forgetting his lines. And I don’t mean in rehearsals.

What are some of your favourite memories from past panto performances?
Janette: One year we were doing the slosh scene at Birmingham Hippodrome and [famous dame] Billy Dainty walked through the door just as we threw the paste. It all went in his mouth and immediately he was sick. He’d just had his lunch and there were carrots everywhere. It was hysterical.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that she likes being compared to Wee Jimmy Krankie. How do you feel about being compared to Nicola Sturgeon?
Janette: It’s alright. We get a few laughs out of it. The Scottish Sun asked Alex Salmond if he would come and meet us, but Alex said, ‘I can see the headlines now. It’s not fair on Nicola.’ She’s better looking than me, though.
Ian: Well, she’s younger than you. Or Jimmy Krankie, I should say.

Do you make much money from your famous catchphrase ‘Fan-Daby-Dozy?’
Ian: We never trademarked it. Can you believe it? Nor did we trademark our own name. There’s a coffee bar called Krankies in Salem in America. I get their Google alerts and they get mine. There’s also a cocktail that’s been named after us in New York. Yanks go in and say: ‘That’s not how you spell cranky.’ And then the guy shows them us on YouTube and they all buy the drink. It’s a bestseller, apparently.


The Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at The Grand Theatre, Blackpool, 5 Dec-7 Jan 
Best known for: Playing omelette-loving Gwen in Gavin & Stacey 

You’re playing the Fairy Godmother in this production. What would you wish for if you had magical powers? 
Let’s not be facetious and say world peace. That’s what people usually say, isn’t it? I think everybody should just wish to be really happy, because that would help an awful lot of things.

What are some of your favourite memories from appearing in previous pantomimes?
Let’s see. There was Jack and the Beanstalk when the beanstalk deflated. You’ve got this wonderful scene where we’re describing the beanstalk getting bigger and bigger and, of course, nothing is happening. It was even funnier when it started to slowly deflate during the scene. You just have to hold your hands up to the audience at that point and say, yeah, it’s all gone wrong.

Most people will know you from playing Gwen in Gavin and Stacey. How do fans of the show react when they see you out?
It’s usually, ‘Make me an omelette.’ But I always have a little laugh with them and there are worse things to be shouted at you in the street. Bring it on. And if you do want to get me onto the subject of omelettes, it is actually an absolutely fantastic healthy, whole meal, in the sense that you’ve got all your protein and veg.

Have you ever been approached by the Welsh egg board for an advertising campaign?
I haven’t, but I am open to enquiries if they are reading this article. I think they definitely missed a trick there.

It seems like every other theatre in the region is doing Cinderella this year. Why should people come and see yours?
Let’s face it Blackpool is going to be the biggest laugh, isn’t it? Come to Blackpool. See a bit of sea. Have an ice cream and come and see a show. It’s win, win, win. And that’s even before the omelette. We can have Blackpool rock omelette. That will get them coming through the doors.


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