Sprit FM presenter Vicky Edwards returns to the stage this Christmas for the first time in a decade, fulfilling a long-held panto dream at Bognor’s Regis Centre.
Panto is something she’s always wanted to do, and now she’s doing it, mum to the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood and the Babes in the Woods (December 13-January 5, tickets 01243 861010).
“I am playing the evil mother,” says Vicky, clearly relishing the thought. “She is bad. She is mean, and he is his mother’s son. And she is blind as far as he is concerned. The son is the apple of her eye; she is not really fussed about the rest of the world.
“I have done lots of children’s theatre, but I have never done panto before. It is new territory for me, something I have always wanted to do because, like a lot of kids, my earliest memories of theatre are all wrapped up in the excitement of panto, the lights, the costumes. For children, it is just the magic of it all.
“But I also want to do it because many friends have done panto and have said what a fantastic time they have had. It’s hard work, but there is a lot of comedy. It’s the time of year. People are out to have a good time. It’s a season where people are particularly receptive and just want to be entertained - as long as you do your job well!
“And for the adults it gives them permission to be children again and to behave in a disinhibited way!”
Vicky went to drama school as a child, to Italia Conti, commuting up every day from Bracklesham Bay.
“I left Conti at exactly the same time as John Gale and Patrick Garland were setting up the CFT tent (precursor to the Minerva). Ostensibly I was employed by the box office as a box office clerk, but John’s attitude was that if you were a box office clerk and wanted to be an actress or if you were a member of the stage crew and wanted to be a director, the tent gave you the opportunity to work with professionals.
“I worked with Sam Mendes. I was ASM on one of his first shows. Sam was lovely, an absolutely sweetheart.”
Vicky gained her equity card and went off to the Croydon Warehouse theatre as an acting ASM before going off on tour, with Fireman Sam and Postman Pat: “For several years I would commute between Greendale and Pontypandy going up and down the country!”
Vicky came back to the CFT to work with the youth theatre. She served as the CFT’s press officer: “I also got to understudy a few shows. I understudied Mansfield Park and When We Are Married.”
When When We Are Married went into the West End, Vicky got to go on several times.
But for the past 17 years, almost since its start, she has been a Spirit FM presenter She also hosted a number of events for the old Chichester Festivities: “In a sense I have continued performing, but this is my first definite acting role for a while.”
Daughter Lily, aged nine, is delighted at what her mum’s now up to: “She thinks it is great, but I suppose because of what I do and what (dad) Duncan (Barkes, LBC radio presenter and Sky News paper reviewer) does, she has been used to being in the theatre and in studios since she was tiny.
“She made her own debut as an actress when she was nine weeks old in Chichester Cathedral as baby Jesus!”