Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Bishop made for panto drama role

John Bishop co-wrote and stars in Panto!

John Bishop's previous panto experience means he was the ideal man to write a TV drama about the annual theatre tradition.

The 46-year-old comic has joined forces with Gimme Gimme Gimme and Coronation Street writer Jonathan Harvey to write Panto!, a one-off comedy drama for ITV.

Set behind the scenes at the Grand Theatre Lancaster's production of Dick Whittington, Panto! tells the tale of local radio DJ Lewis Loud (played by Bishop) making his pantomime debut alongside soap star Tamsin (Sheridan Smith), who's better known as her "Mad Mindy The Axe Murderer" alter ego.

Bishop should be able to relate, in some ways, to Lewis because, before the days of his own headline tours, DVDs and book deals, one of his first jobs in showbiz was in pantomime.

Just before quitting his job in pharmaceutical sales to give his performing career a proper go, Bishop dipped his toe in the water by performing stand-up in various comedy nights in the North West and, in Christmas 2005, appeared in Snow White in Liverpool.

"I was playing Herman The Henchman," he recalled. "But as it was over the Christmas period I had a lot of other comedy gigs to honour so I couldn't focus properly on being Herman. I basically didn't end up doing the first two weeks so when I did go on I felt like it was a bit of a shambles."

He's since starred in other pantomimes, including one alongside The One And Only singer Chesney Hawkes. The two have remained mates and, as a result, Hawkes pops up in Panto!, playing a one-hit wonder.

:: Panto! is on ITV1 on Thursday, December 27.

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