Men in Frocks (Hampshire Life, December 2021)

Featured in December’s Hampshire Life in an article on Panto’s “Men in frocks” alongside Jack Edwards (Southsea), Craig Revel Horwood (Southampton) and Julian Eardley (Winchester)

Some may recognise Nick as the hard-nosed market inspector for Walford’s Bridge Street market in EastEnders. But his latest acting offering couldn’t be further from Bob Lister’s grey suit and tie as he dons a dress and bloomers and becomes housekeeper Polly La Plonk for Beauty and the Beast at The Anvil in Basingstoke. No stranger to the pantomime, Nick remembers: ‘I did my first panto when I was 30 playing Captain’s Mate in Dick Whittington in 1987 at the Theatre Royal Plymouth; in 1990 I was Wishee Washee in Edmonton; and in 1991 the baddie in Bill Oddie’s Mother Goose at the Shaw Theatre in London. When I was 40, I had the idea of playing a panto Dame but it took three years to find someone to give me the chance. In 2000 I played Nurse Nellie in Robin Hood & The Babes in the Wood at the Salisbury Playhouse and I’ve played Dame every Christmas since – I was last at The Anvil in 2010 in Sleeping Beauty with the wonderful Wendy Craig.’

With an award-winning script, comedy routines and songs a-plenty, audiences are set for an action-packed show. Nick’s favourite routine is with fellow cast member Chris Pizzey, who plays Louis, Polly’s son, he shares: I’ve worked with Chris before so I know what “a little tinker” he is. My favourite bit is the kitchen scene where we get into a bit of state trying to bake some baguettes. Louis says: “No rest for the stupid”, Polly says: “Wicked” and Louis replies: “Cool”. I love this little exchange at the beginning of the scene – it’s such a neat joke.

All this on-stage excitement sounds exhausting and so when it comes to some r&r for Polly, Nick says: ‘I think she’d head down to Lymington harbour – she’s got an eye for the sailors. Or possibly she might take a busman’s holiday and go for afternoon tea at Highclere Castle – it would be nice to be waited on for a change.’