EastEnders and Hollyoaks star Carli Norris wants to be very bad this Christmas

EastEnders and Hollyoaks star Carli Norris admits she has tried being good. It just wasn’t much fun.
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“I have tried the good side but it just didn't suit me,” says Carli who is promising a wickedly-fabulous Malevolent in this year’s panto Beauty & The Beast at Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park Theatre from Friday, December 8-Sunday, January 14.

“I just love the audience participation that you get when you're being a baddie. I do just love the boos and I love the call-backs and what is really, really brilliant is that the audience in Eastbourne are getting to know me now and they really are starting to know what they can get away with. And it's just such great fun. You’ve got all the gags for the adults that go over the children's heads and the children love to hate me and the parents do actually quite like me but they don't actually really want to admit it! I tried being the good fairy once but it just doesn't resonate with me. I am just too sarcastic a person in my core and I don't think a sarcastic good fairy would go down too well! I'm just a bad girl at heart. Our fairy Rebecca is the most delightful fairy. She's absolutely hilarious so it's a great combination. I really think we have got the dream team here.”

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The key to panto – or at least to getting panto right – is knowing the rules, knowing how it works: “There are certain things that you have got to stick to. There are only a set number of characters that can actually talk to the audience and you've also got to remember the rule of three. When it comes to comedy, you've got to get the rhythm, and part of that rhythm you get through the rule of three. You do it once and it goes wrong and then you do it a second time and it goes wrong and then you do it the third time and that's when you get the laugh and that third time you can do it slightly differently. It has got to be one, two, three and then you get the best response.”

Carli Norris as Malevolent, Beauty and Beast, Devonshire Park (contributed pic)Carli Norris as Malevolent, Beauty and Beast, Devonshire Park (contributed pic)
Carli Norris as Malevolent, Beauty and Beast, Devonshire Park (contributed pic)

Carli also loves the different jokes: “We've got a fantastic comic called Tucker and he's got all the fun jokes for the kids. My jokes are not so much bottom jokes. They're more for the mums and dads, more the double entendres.”

Carli first did panto “way back when, maybe 20 years ago” for a different company: “And I have to hold my hand up and say that I really didn't know what I was doing. There was an awful lot of corpsing by me on stage and that's the thing: because of the technical demands an awful lot can go wrong and that's where a lot of the hilarity comes from.”

Carli returned to panto in 2017 and since then has been a regular: “But when I first came back I was too dark. I was the darkest I could possibly make it and I got nominated for a panto award! But then I discovered that I could be absolutely dark and evil but actually I could also laugh at myself at the same time and I do think that's why the children love it. My character is ridiculous!”

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Cast includes Tucker as Potty Pierre and Martyn Knight as Dame Dotty. Plus Brendan Hooper as Beauty’s father, Rebecca Vere as Fairy Formidable with Katie Cochrane as Beauty and Lewes Roberts is Prince. Tickets from the venue.