Thirty years of panto for Davro

Northampton Panto launch of Aladdin at The Grosvenor Centre, with Bobby Davro and Brian Fortuna.
Northampton Panto launch of Aladdin at The Grosvenor Centre, with Bobby Davro and Brian Fortuna.

This year’s panto season will soon be coming to a close, but one person who will be enjoying it until the very last is Bobby Davro, who is nothing short of a veteran when it comes to pantomimes.

Bobby, who is starring as Wishee Washee in the Royal and Derngate’s production of Aladdin, said: “This production of Aladdin has been my 27th pantomime in 30 years.

“I think it’s important for people to have pantomime.

“The Americans don’t understand pantomime, I have to explain to them why we do things and at the start I had to show Brian Fortuna, who plays Aladdin, the ropes as he’d never been in one before.

“Pantomime used to be poo pooed by a lot of people but I think it’s a great tradition, it goes right across the board from children to the oldies.

“To make both children and adults laugh is a big achievement I think.

“I’m a bit of an all-rounder and I understand the layout of the jokes as they are done differently in panto than in stand up comedy.

“As a comic, I can go in there and pull the audience in, be cheeky to them, and then get back into the story.

“I’m not a traditional person when it comes to pantos, I take modern references and use them and I think it’s good to do modern songs too, I think the audience automatically respond to that.”

Knowing how to work an audience and make them laugh is something Bobby mastered years ago.

Bobby’s career began more than 30 years ago in 1981, but it wasn’t until 1983 that he made his television breakthrough at Live from Her Majesty’s followed by appearances on the television show, Who Do You Do?

Bobby appeared on a variety of television shows, mostly with ITV, throughout the 80s and 90s.

His popularity was at its highest during the mid-80s with his own Saturday night ITV shows Bobby Davro on the Box and Bobby Davro’s TV Annual.

He also made appearances on the popular comedy impressions sketch show Copy Cats.

He said: “My TV shows were something that everyone could watch.

“I was doing impressions back in the 80s but I didn’t want to just be known for the impressions, I’m more of an entertainer.

“I do stand-up comedy and I like to sing, which is something I would actually like more recognition for. I do a lot of audience participation in my shows too.”

In recent years, Bobby has taken on more straight acting roles, most notably as Vinnie Monks in EastEnders from 2007 to 2008.

Bobby said: “It was great to get into EastEnders but the character didn’t quite go in the direction I was hoping for so I moved on after a year.

“I get very bored if I don’t have lots of different things to do and had to do the same thing night after night.

“But I love doing pantomime each year, I think it’s a new challenge each time.

“My first ever pantomime was Jack and the Beanstalk but my favourite is definitely Aladdin.

“I like playing Wishee Washee because he’s up for fun and there’s more of that to be had in Aladdin than in playing a part like Buttons in Cinderella, because he ends up quite sad as he is in love with her but she marries a prince.

“Wishee Washee is much more physical and I like that.

“Panto is on two levels, it’s innuendo but it’s nothing that you couldn’t bring the children too, like my shows were. My aim is never to be offensive, I just want to entertain people.”

Bobby Davro will be appearing in Aladdin until tomorrow, Sunday January 8 at the Royal and Derngate. Tickets cost between £15 and £23 and group rates are also available.