A Panto at Easter John? Oh yes it is!

Tam Ryan and John Thomson who will be starring in The Easter Funny Show
Tam Ryan and John Thomson who will be starring in The Easter Funny Show
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Comedian John Thomson brings a new family show to Manchester Opera House tonight and tomorrow. He told AASMA DAY what keeps his own children smiling

John Thomson admits his own wife jokingly describes him as “a gay man who likes women”.

“I’m not a normal bloke,” John confesses.

“I am not a typical alpha male and I don’t try to be macho. I don’t like football or other sports and I love shopping and cooking.

“I also adore being a father to two daughters. It is lovely having two Daddy’s girls.”

John, who grew up in New Longton near Preston and went to All Hallows Catholic High School in Penwortham and Leyland’s Runshaw College, is married to Sam and the couple have daughters Olivia, 11 and Sophia, four.

But conceiving Sophia was far from plain sailing and the couple went through the anguish of three failed attempts at IVF before they got their longed-for second child.

John, 45, remembers going through IVF as being “horrible”.

He explains: “It was far harder for Sam and, as a man, it is awful to see the woman go through so much pain and you feel helpless.

“As a man, your role is very minimal and you end up feeling so guilty when it doesn’t work. I really feel sorry for women who face IVF as it is one of the most stressful things you can go through.

“We went through IVF three times and it failed, so we eventually gave up and decided to get a puppy.

“Then it just happened naturally and we got Sophia and feel so lucky.”

John believes going through IVF makes the couple even more appreciative of their children.

“My family comes first.” says John simply. “Everything else is secondary and I have to prioritise to make sure they are foremost in my life.”

Having children, John know what youngsters like when it comes to entertainment and he has seen how their faces light up when they are watching pantomimes at Christmas.

But pantomimes are usually reserved for the festive time of the year, and it was spotting this gap in the market that led to John teaming up with Lancashire-based comedian, actor and singer Tam Ryan to come up with the Easter Funny Show which they have written, produced and will be starring in.

John, who is best know for his role as Pete Gifford in the award-winning Cold Feet, explains: “There are so many elements of the traditional that children love.

“They love a baddie to boo, they love the ghost gag and the silly songs and having popular songs such as Gangham Style featured in the show.

“We thought ‘why should a panto just be at Christmas?’ and we wanted to take all the best bits of panto and create a fun family show for Easter.

“We did not want to call it a variety show because nowadays, calling something a variety show puts some people off.

“But what we have created is a good quality interactive family show which doesn’t rely on someone from children’s TV dressed up.

“We have worked really hard on the script and we have got singing, dancing, magic and much more.”

Joining John and Tam will be comedy juggler and Evening Post columnist Steve Royle, Key 103 Breakfast Show host Mike Toolan, UV puppeteer Russ Brown and a mystery Britain’s Got Talent star.

After enjoying a varied career in film, television and theatre, John is particularly enjoying having returned to his comedy roots by returning to stand-up.

He says: “Stand up is exactly the same as I remember. It is still terrifying and you never look forward to it.

“You never know what is going to happen. You could die on the stage with the audience hating you or you could go down an absolute storm.

“My stomach always gets tied up in knots when I do stand-up, but if it goes well, I totally relish it.

“I always say you are best going on with low expectations otherwise you will be bitterly disappointed.”

John is also celebrating being sober for seven years after giving up the drink that almost destroyed his marriage.

“It is the best thing I have ever done,” admits John.

“I never get tempted to have a drink now as the compulsion left me years ago.

“Nowadays, I end up leaving some functions early as there is only so much drunkenness you can tolerate when you are sober.

“Drinking is not a spectator sport. I am content to be at home and love doing things such as eating out and going to the cinema.

“I have so much more compassion and humility since I stopped drinking.

“When you are on that downward spiral, you become very self-centred and everything is about you. When I got famous with Cold Feet, I did not know how to handle the fame. No one teaches you that.

“But I am very grateful that my fame came as a by-product of talent and hard work.

“Unfortunately, today there are people who can become very famous with very little talent.”

The Easter Funny Show is at the Manchester Opera House tonight at 7.30pm and tomorrow at 1pm and 5pm.

Tickets from £12. Call 0844 871 3018 or visit: www.atgtickets.com/manchester.