Jonathan Wilkes and Paddy McGuiness on panto in Manchester

PUBLISHED: 20:39 01 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:06 20 February 2013

Jonathan Wilkes and Paddy McGuiness on panto in Manchester

Jonathan Wilkes and Paddy McGuiness on panto in Manchester

Jonathan Wilkes and Paddy McGuiness talk pies and pantos with Miranda Thompson

Jonny Wilkes leans in close; teeth bared, arms outstretched, and proclaims, 'You're going to die.' ... Not quite the interview I was
hoping for.


It emerges however; my life rests only on the participation of singing the world's rudest song, quite possibly the highlight of Manchester Opera House's newest run, the debut of adult-musical-comedy, Pantos on Strike, a show which has brought together good mates and telly treasures Paddy McGuiness and Jonathan Wilkes.


With banter flowing quicker than the Irwell, long legs akimbo and suspiciously brown skin beaming from under the glare of the Opera House lights, these old friends and new stage-sharers spell out the premise of the latest sensation to hit Mancunian theatre-land.

Have we stumbled upon the newest Morecambe and Wise? 'No, we're more like Shrek and Donkey', booms Paddy in that oh-so familiar Bolton baritone that's been lighting up Saturday evenings ever since he became host of Take Me Out, probably telly's best dating show since Blind Date.


'It's sort of like a British Shrek', Jonny chimes in, 'all the characters you could never imagine on one stage together.' Robbie William's best mate (who's even penned a song for the show - after all, what are friends for?), all round entertainer and veteran of the "very addictive" panto circuit, is infectiously excited about Paddy swapping stand-up for Snow White.


'I went to see him on tour and saw him after, and he said to me "I love it onstage but I do get a bit lonely on my own."That's when I thought, why don't we do this show where can involve him with his stand up and build the show around him as well?'


Good friends since they met 'years ago' on football TV show The Match, the boys' bond was formed on the pitch, and again this year as a part of charity extravaganza Soccer Aid. Pantos, however, will be the first time the lads have shared a stage together after Jonny contacted Paddy because he thought the whole thing sounded 'a laugh'.


Featuring a 'great team and a fantastic cast', the line-up reads like Father Christmas's wish-list and is sure to warm you up faster than a hot toddy. Joining the lads on their intrepid adventure to save a panto land in crisis will be not one but two of Coronation Street's greatest legends; sinister serial killer Brian Capron (Richard Hillman) will once again be lurking Manchester streets whilst Eric Potts swaps the cobbles for a dame's wig and a director's chair.


Not your average panto romp, the show is strictly adults only, and judging from the amount of chuckles emanating from the pair, it's going to be a riot.


Paddy enthuses: 'We want groups of girls, groups of lads, stag parties for a fun, raucous show', the highlight of which seems to be the self-proclaimed world's most offensive song, written by either 'the devil or Jeremy Kyle', Paddy's not sure.


And why exactly have they chosen Manchester as the location for Pantos' world debut, and not, say, Ipswich? A veteran of the stand-up comedy circuit, Paddy explains: 'When you're on tour, you'll visit places and they'll react differently to different things. Where you'll get a big belly laugh in Manchester, in Ipswich they'll titter. That's the reason for Manchester - they're up for a laugh.'


It's clear both boys have a lot of time for this part of the world, with Paddy in particular a connoisseur of local delights. A solid supporter of home team Bolton Wanderers, he describes his ideal day in Manchester as being 'sat outside at Dukes 92 with a couple of beers', preferably rounded off with that taste bud-tingling speciality 'a pie on a barm'.


Aside from the great sense of humour, Paddy's keen to impress his appreciation of the North West's taste for culture.


'Outside of London, Manchester has the highest number of theatre attendances in the UK, and in London that number is because of tourists. Here, it's the people who live in the area who come to see the shows, and they know how to have a good time.'

Clearly, so do these two.

Pantos on Strike is at the Opera House from November 12th -27th visit www.manchesteroperahouse.org.uk for booking details.

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