- December 4, 2017
From his ‘One And Only’ roots to working with John Bishop on telly, and his panto present, Chesney Hawkes answers questions from Victoria Nangle, talking freely about being accident prone, entrepreneurial fans, and his love of the Christmas pantomime
Hi Chesney, how are you today?
I’m doing fabulous. How are you doing?
Good, thank you. What’s the most unusual experience you’ve ever had with a fan?
God, I have so many of those – we could be here all day. Well, back in the early days we had this one girl… well, we used to have girls that camped outside our house. And one of them rang the bell and asked my Mum if she could use the toilet, because she was desperate to use the toilet. And my Mum didn’t normally let people in the house but this girl was kind of desperate so she let her in. She came into the toilet, she used the loo, and while she was in there she stole a roll of loo paper – and then was selling off sheets at a pound a pop. She was then known as Belinda Bog-roll. It’s a funny one.
It’s great to be able to see you in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. What are your favourite parts of the panto tradition?
I particularly love the audience participation, to be honest with you. I’ve had all sorts of amazing things happen with audiences in panto, that you never get at normal theatre productions.
I’ll tell a little story: I had my little girl. When she was four years old she came to see me in panto. I was right at the front of the stage with my leading lady, and just in that close moment when we were about to kiss she said: “Daddy!”
And I tried to ignore it and carry on with the scene, but she said: “Daddy!!!”
And my co star’s looking at me, and some of the crowd are laughing a little bit. And it got too much in the end and my co star kind of looked at me as if to say – ‘I think you’d better do something about this’.
So I kind of turned around and said: “Yes, Darling?”
And she said: “I’ve got an ice cream!!!!” And it got the biggest applause of the whole night – the whole run probably. So it’s just those kind of moments about panto that you couldn’t get anywhere else.
My co star kind of looked at me as if to say – ‘I think you’d better do something about this’
Which of the seven dwarves’ names do you most identify with and why?
Oh Clumsy! By a million miles, yeah. You might get to know me – you’ve got to be careful with me (laughing).
You acted previously in the drama comedy Panto! playing a version of yourself – do you think that might’ve given you some inkling as to what to expect from the season?
Well that was with John Bishop and the first time I ever did panto was with John, before he was famous – he wasn’t even on the poster. There was another comic above him on the bill.
I know John very well. And John knows me as the clumsiest man alive. We’d, like, fall off the stage and.. y’know all sorts of things happened during that panto. So when he wrote the film he had me breaking my leg, falling offstage, I was in a wheelchair at one time… so *hopefully* none of that’s going to happen on this run.
Having had a go at The Games, Let’s Dance For Comic Relief, Dancing On Ice – each bringing you unexpected injury – do you think you’d have a go at I’m A Celebrity… or another reality TV show and chance the insurance?
Yeah. It’s a very very good question. I don’t think I’ll do anything that’s going to be too physical anymore, because yes I do obviously have… it’s been a clumsy time. I’ve broken a leg, I’ve ruptured ligaments in my ankle, and ripped cartilage out of my hip – and this is all reality TV. So if I did a reality show I think it would have to be something where I’m sitting on a couch. (Laughs) What possibly could go wrong? I said that when I did Masterchef and I nearly chopped my
Ho! ho! ho! And what would you like for Christmas?
Ahh. My two front teeth!
No – what I’d really like for Christmas is for my family to come and join me here in Worthing. At least for a week. I hope that’s going to come true. That is the plan, I’m trying to make that happen.
Snow White And The Seven Dwarves, Pavilion Theatre, Worthing, running until 1 January 2018, from £12.50, worthingtheatres.co.uk