LORELEI REDDIN talks to former Emmerdale star Gary Turner about his love for Captain Hook, gadgets, panto traditions and his little girls.
How are rehearsals going?
“We’re doing really well. I’ve just taken my hook off for a little rest!
We’re just working on the music, there’s some great songs in there.”
How would you sum up this version of Peter Pan?
“It’s a brilliant fun-packed version of the magical story.”
This is your seventh time as Captain Hook. Two of them in Basingstoke. Do you enjoy being a panto villain?
“Yes, I’ve tried other roles, but being a baddie is just so much more interesting.
There’s something so lovely about having an audience booing you!
You know you’re doing your job well. Heroes don’t get to do as many interesting things, but I get to come out with nasty lines and poison people.
In this show, I get to try to cut Tinkerbell’s wings off, drown the Lost Boys and fight with Peter Pan.”
What sort of Hook are you?
“I played King Rat, but that wasn’t as much fun. My Hook just wants to be loved!
I would say I have my moments of pure evil, but most of the time I want to have fun and people do like me! I’m not a Jack Sparrow type Hook this time, I’m more like King Charles II with huge hair!”
Why do you think pantomime is such an enduring British institution?
“I don’t know. I think when it comes to Christmas, audiences come along to the theatre determined to have a good time.
It’s a great pity it doesn’t happen all year long. Pantomime doesn’t have any pretensions, it’s not trying to be clever, everyone’s just expecting to be entertained. It’s the Christmas spirit and theatres do their best business at this time of year.
I think it’s such a British thing, suited to our sense of humour. Man dresses up as a woman, woman dresses up as a man. I love all the current jokes about who ever is the Prime Minister at the time. I’m going to try and get that dog in Richmond Park in. Fenton!
I think they’ve started doing the odd panto in America now, but I’m not sure if they’re much like ours.”
Stage, TV, film or a mixture?
“I like variety, but I love the stage. I always used to say that if I was doing theatre, I loved TV and if I was doing TV I loved the theatre. But I think if I had to choose, there’s something magical about theatre. It’s live and there’s nothing to hide behind. When you’ve got a camera on you and you mess up, you just do it again. My heart comes down on the side of theatre.”
Tell us about your impro work?
“It’s like Whose Line Is It Anyway?
I’ve got involved with the Spontaneity Shop and we do mad shows basically made up by the audience. One audience member will shout out 32 and another orange and we’ll start a play with a 32nd birthday party with an orange cake. We did a pilot for a show, but unfortunately, it never got off the ground.”
What are your plans for Christmas?
“I’m going home. I’ve got two children now and it makes a big difference. They’re three and one and because Basingstoke is quite near London, well I live in Essex, for the first time I haven’t brought them with me. So I’m away from home at the moment and finding it quite strange. I miss my little girls and I hope they won’t have forgotten me. I won’t take my Hook with me!”
Peter Pan is at The Anvil from Thursday to January 2. Tickets: 01256 844244 or visit anvilarts.org.uk