Barney is A-lad-in panto

Blue Peters Barney Harwood

Blue Peters Barney Harwood

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Is panto season really already upon us? Oh yes it is.

This year’s big Blackpool panto at the Grand Theatre is Aladdin, starring the likes of Blue Peter’s Barney Harwood, Radio Wave’s Hayley Kay and stand-up comedian Steve Royle.

I’m so excited to be back in Blackpool

Despite being best known for his work on CBBC, Blackpool-born Barney is no stranger to pantomimes, starring in many over the past ten years, including an appearance in Peter Pan at the Grand, back in 2009.

He says he’s relishing getting back to his roots during the festive season, to play the title role.

“I’m so excited to be back in Blackpool,” he says.

“I have been popping back home as much as I can recently as my grandma has not been well. It will be lovely to be here for Christmas to look after her and spend time with my family.”

Barney’s taking the role very seriously and has been learning the martial art Muay Thai, to help get him in shape for two shows a day.

He adds: “It’s a highly skilled discipline and I felt like Tom Cruise in the Last Samurai! But I’m probably more like the Karate Kid to be honest… And now I’m more than ready for two pantomime shows a day at the beautiful Grand Theatre.”

Starring as the genie is Hayley Kay, who will be balancing her breakfast show on Radio Wave, with two shows a day and being a mother to her baby boy, Freddie, who turned one this week.

“It’s a different set of challenges this year than previously,” she laughs.

“But I do have an incredible amount of support from my family.”

And after missing out on the pantomime last year, Hayley is excited to get back into the swing of things.

She adds: “It’s a dream come true to be able to do pantomime again this year.

“Freddie was born last December and we had the most magical family time with him and it was very special. But it was very strange not to be learning lines and I did miss my pantomime family too.”

Also starring in the panto is stand-up comedian and radio personality Steve Royle as Wishee Washee, soap actor Mark Moraghan as Abanazar, Philip Meeks as Widow Twanky, Ronnie Leek as the Emperor and comedy magician Mark James as PC Pong.

Tickets are available from blackpoolgrand.co.uk or by calling the box office on 01253 290190.

It starts tomorrow and runs until Sunday, January 8.