HE’S one of Britain’s most lovable and likeable celebrities – and now, Keith Chegwin is going to be the star of this year’s Anvil Christmas pantomime.
It’s been 13 years since the 1980s television personality performed on stage at the theatre, when he appeared in Mother Goose in 2001.
Now, the local celebrity, who lives in Ashmansworth, is preparing to make a happy return and play the role of Buttons in Cinderella.
He is the first top cast member to be announced for the Gazette Newspapers-sponsored festive production, and Cheggers said he is excited about returning to The Anvil.
The 57-year-old told The Gazette: “I always remember places by the people and the reception you get, and it was a really good friendly reception here.
“I have been back doing panto for four years. It was my son who said ‘please do panto’ – it’s a family occasion for us. They come to the theatre, and we all go out for lunch.”
Keith, who is familiar with the role of Buttons, having previously played him at The Anvil in 1998, said: “It’s a great character. You get the funny parts but you also get the sympathy. And I’m a great fan of getting covered in gateaux!”
The father-of-two is already in talks with the producer about the role, offering his own ideas.
He said: “There’s a few audience participation things I would like to do. I don’t like the idea of spraying someone with a water pistol – I like to come out with a hosepipe! I want the audience to be as tired as me after the show.”
Keith has scheduled in lessons to refresh his tap-dancing skills ahead of the show, and said doing pantomimes gives him the chance to showcase his other talents, including singing, dancing and playing the guitar.
Referring to how pantomimes have changed since he performed at The Anvil 13 years ago, Keith said: “What they tend to do in a lot of scripts is modernise the panto. That’s quite a good idea.”
Rehearsals will start in November, before the opening night on December 11.
Keith said: “It’s the closest panto in the world for me, only a 20-minute drive. There’s no worries about getting snowed in – I will be here.”
Cinderella will run until January 4, 2015, and tickets are now on sale, with group discounts available for early bookings. For more information, call The Anvil on 01256 844244 or go to the Anvil Arts website at anvilarts.org.uk.