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Sunday, December 7, 2014
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“Sometimes I play more ethereal roles like the Spirit of the Bells, which I did in Dick Whittington at Birmingham Hippodrome,” he remembers.
“Cinderella is the best panto story. It has a magical world and the transformation scene is wonderful.
“This production is very lavish and sumptuous. My costumes take up most of the wardrobe budget. There’s an air of expectation when I go off stage, as people wait to see what I come on in next.
“I’m there for the grown-ups, essentially. My jokes go over the children’s heads, that’s the joy of a double entendre.
“I first appear on stage in a chariot pulled by two bare-chested men. I say I like to get pulled everywhere I go, which only the adults understand.
“Some people may worry I am too rude for a family audience, but my lines are finely-honed. I do have to watch myself when ad-libbing.
“The danger is saying what I might be thinking, but I’m good at self-censorship.”
It’s a lesson Julian learned the hard way, after making a controversial comment about Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont at the 1993 British Comedy Awards.
Thankfully he has put all that fuss behind him now. The things that go wrong today are more likely to be technical hitches.
“I had to sing the Titanic song while flying across the stage, but it went wrong and I ended up singing it standing on the ground, which didn’t have quite the same effect.
“Children sometimes wander on to the stage, but I like all that. There’s no fourth wall in panto so we can all chat to each other. It’s not Chekhov.
“This is my 12th panto. It’s become a way of life, I can’t imagine what else I would do at this time of year.”
Julian was last in a Midland panto when he starred alongside Joan Collins and Nigel Havers in Dick Whittington at the Birmingham Hippodrome in 2010.
Ironically, Joan had issued a cease and desist order to stop Julian using her name when he performed as the Joan Collins Fan Club in the 1980s, but the pair ended up becoming firm friends. Now they even holiday together at her home in St Tropez.
Julian says: “We had a frosty start where we were not quite sure about each other, circling around.
“Inevitably the barriers were broken down because we were working together for so long.
“Going on holiday with Joan is as amazing and fabulous as you might imagine, she has a great lust for life.
“But she is very down to earth when she’s at home. We just sit round the pool, eating salad, or go shopping.
“She also loves to play poker. She taught me when we worked together in Birmingham.
“We play for money, it’s taken quite seriously. Joan is excellent but I’m not very good, I don’t have a good poker face.
“I tend to lose a couple of hundred pounds to her over four days.”
Julian is making his Wolverhampton panto debut, saying: “I don’t know Wolverhampton at all well, so all its delights and charms lie in store.
“When I went up for the panto launch I arrived in a taxi. I noticed a sign saying ‘If you soil this taxi there will be a charge of £40’, which I thought was very reasonable.
“Apparently it’s £60 in Liverpool, so if you’re going to soil a taxi, Wolverhampton is the place to do it.”
Cinderella runs at Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre from December 6 to January 18. For tickets, ring 01902 429212 or