Paul O’Grady on slipping back into heels for Cinderella at the London Palladium

First we found ourselves taking a ride with magical Fairy Godmother Amanda Holden… and now it’s time to step into the bad side with this wicked ol’ queen.

About to slip into a pair of heels and have us all begging and screaming in fright and delight as The Wicked Stepmother in Cinderella at the London Palladium — Paul, we’re ready!

Warning: this interview many contain sarcasm at the highest level.

Hi Paul! Cinderella returns to the London Palladium for the first time in nearly three decades. Are you looking forward to the weeks ahead? Funny enough, I’m really looking forward to it!

Two shows a day is bloody hard work but I reckon it’ll be a good laugh as well. Just like sex… there’s no point doing it if you’re not going to enjoy it! [Laughs]

Talk us through the show. What can we all expect? Well it’s the story of Cinderella and everyone knows that, don’t they? You can also expect glorious costumes, beautiful sets, magical effects, lots of laughs and, of course, a happy ending.

What made you want to be involved and take on The Wicked Stepmother? The fact that it’s the first panto in nearly thirty years to be performed at the London Palladium, and you can’t turn down the chance to work at the most famous theatre in the world, can you? Plus, the money’s good and I can sleep in my own bed, so what’s not to like?

And are you ready to slip into the heels once again? I’d forgotten how painful it all was; the wigs, the makeup, the sheer weight of the costumes not to mention the agony of a speck of mascara trapped behind my contact lens!

The heels are no problem as all my shoes are handmade in the softest glove leather. Sounds very grand doesn’t it? But I can’t be doing with shoes that don’t fit and for The Stepmother I’m wearing a sort of dominatrix ankle boot.1

Christmas schedules are known for being tough — especially in panto season. How do you keep it fresh each show? Somehow you do manage to keep it fresh, but I always treat each show as if it’s the first one. Also, once you’re out there on stage, it’s easier to give it 100% rather than phone it in. Doing a matinee with a hangover is a killer and there’ll certainly be none of that this year!

The Wicked Stepmother is the cause of all evil in Cinderella — How wicked will Paul’s Stepmother be? I reckon she’s a serial killer as she’s had quite a few husbands who’ve all died in mysterious circumstances. She’s also a mean-tempered, spiteful, arrogant bitch of the first order who loathes children, dogs and Cinderella. Lovely!

And to be hated by children throughout the show, too. Are you ready for the booing? Booing is music to a villains ears and I’m well used to it having played The Wicked Queen, Miss Hannigan and The Childcatcher. In fact, when you look at it, I’ve made a good living out of frightening kids.

And finally, what have you asked Santa for this year? A baby elephant, or failing that a mongoose. I suppose I’ll get Marks and Spencer’s socks which isn’t quite as exciting!

More information can be found here.
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