Eastbourne panto - "You've got to keep delivering the comedy gold!"

Tucker is loving the thought of his 12th Eastbourne panto this Christmas and his second time in Beauty and The Beast.
Martyn Knight and Tucker (contributed pic)Martyn Knight and Tucker (contributed pic)
Martyn Knight and Tucker (contributed pic)

“I'm really looking forward to the plate routine! It's smashing!"

Tucker is Potty Pierre in the show which is at the Devonshire Park until Sunday, January 14. His great mate Martyn Knight will be Dame Dotty, plus Brendan Hooper as Beauty’s father, Rebecca Vere as Fairy Formidable, Katie Cochrane as Beauty and Lewes Roberts as the Prince. Tickets priced from £13 on 01323 412000 or online www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk.

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“It only feels like yesterday I did my first one in Eastbourne,” says Tucker. “I live in Eastbourne now with my lovely wife and children. But when the children were born I decided to have a break from panto. I thought no I'm not going to do panto this year because the girls had just been born and so I went and did the comedy clubs instead for a year. And I can remember being in Birmingham in a comedy club and I walked next door to see my old mate Basil Brush. And Brian Conley was doing the panto there. And I remember I was at the comedy club just up the road and I just thought to myself ‘I should be doing panto!’ Before coming to Eastbourne I had been doing panto for 15 years on the trot and I just thought I wanted to have a break.

“And then it got round to maybe April or May of the following year and my agent rang and said ‘Chris Jordan is looking for a comic for panto in Eastbourne and you live in Eastbourne.’ It just made common sense but I actually thought that I had done all the big pantos and I just said to my agent ‘Oh, I don't know.’ At the time I was heavily into thinking what I needed to do next and put the phone down and said to my wife about the idea of doing panto in Eastbourne and she said ‘Do it! It is perfect for you!’ And I never realised at the time that it would turn into being one of the smartest and best decisions I have ever made. What is so special about Eastbourne is the people that I work with, the crew and the company and my great friends Martyn Knight and Chris Jordan. Chris Jordan has allowed me to become the comedian that I wanted to be. He's given me real structure to work with and when you've got real structure then the comedy can get even better. You can step out of it and then come back to the safe space that is the story.”

Becoming the panto regular in one place though, as Tucker says, is a double-edged sword: “I love the safeness and I love the fact that I know I'm going to be working with a great audience and lovely people but the flip side is that you know you have got to deliver.

"You've got to keep constantly thinking ‘Is this better than last year? Is this funnier than last year? Have I found comedy gold?’ Last year we did Aladdin and before that we had Sleeping Beauty and we did the dream scene with a big inflatable cloud and that was absolutely comedy gold but now you are having to think ‘Where is the comedy gold going to be this year?’ and that applies the pressure. When you go on and they know you, it's wonderful for the first five minutes but you have still got to deliver for the next couple of hours and that's where the pressure comes from but I love it. I just love being here.”

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