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EastEnders star Steve McFadden on why he's looking forward to panto season in Dartford

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 October 2019

Andy Ford as Smee, Steve McFadden, Keisha Atwell as Tiger-Lily, and Joe Sleight as Peter Pan.  Picture: Fiona Bond

Andy Ford as Smee, Steve McFadden, Keisha Atwell as Tiger-Lily, and Joe Sleight as Peter Pan. Picture: Fiona Bond

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EastEnders bad boy Steve McFadden takes it all down a notch as he prepares to appear in another panto this festive season.

Joe Sleight as Peter Pan and Steve McFadden as Captain Hook. Picture: Fiona BondJoe Sleight as Peter Pan and Steve McFadden as Captain Hook. Picture: Fiona Bond

Peter Pan is at The Orchard, Dartford, and the actor will be playing Captain Hook, the villain, because of course he is.

Alongside him is comic Andy Ford as Smee.

Steve told the Reporter: "Because I'm in EastEnders, it's like the perfect antidote. It's such a lovely challenge for me.

"It's completely different. You go with the feedback that you get. You've got to let the laughs roll like a wave and ride them. I used to do market trading, and used to sell stuff, and you've got to react to the crowd.

Andy Ford as Smee, Steve McFadden, Keisha Atwell as Tiger-Lily, and Joe Sleight as Peter Pan.  Picture: Fiona BondAndy Ford as Smee, Steve McFadden, Keisha Atwell as Tiger-Lily, and Joe Sleight as Peter Pan. Picture: Fiona Bond

"If you come out with the wrong line at the wrong time, it's just going to go flat. You get a shape of it which Andy, our great comic, is a master at and I'm an amateur at. I'm the baddie but he gets laughs at my expense."

On his character, Steve complains: "He's not just Captain Hook; he's been abused by this young gentleman who cut off his arm and chucked it to the crocodile. What a liberty. It's enough to make him hostile.

"He'll speak a bit like me: a bit growly, a bit gruff.

"He's a handicapped man on a ship full of pirates. You're not going to sleep easily at night, are you? You're going to lock the door.

Joe Sleight as Peter Pan and Steve McFadden as Captain Hook. Picture: Fiona BondJoe Sleight as Peter Pan and Steve McFadden as Captain Hook. Picture: Fiona Bond

"He's the captain of a cutthroat bunch of rogues so he's got to be a fairly strong individual who doesn't suffer fools or beat around the bush."

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And there is some singing to be done. Steve said: "I've got a new song. The crowd won't enjoy it but I will."

In spite of the obvious typecasting, there's little chance he's going to be Buttons one year, or a pantomime dame.

He said: "No, it's not going to happen. It just doesn't work. When I was at RADA I did all sorts of things. And I did clowning. I dressed up as a clown at my friend's daughter's birthday party. Kids ran screaming from the room.

"His daughter cried her eyes out. I emptied the room and all I did was walk in with a chef's hat on and a big red nose. I didn't even open my mouth or have a chance to say anything. I gathered, at that point, to stick to the villains."

Steve always admits a passion for The Orchard, saying: "They've asked me back. Every theatre has an energy; it's what you bring to the place. It's a really nice theatre and I had a really good time the last time I was here.

"Wherever we go, we have a good time. I discovered, when I first did panto, that I wasn't sure what it was all about.

"I was nervous and then I heard the audience come out and it was a completely different change of tone. People were just having a shared experience.

"That's when I realised what I was doing. It's a family experience for everyone with people they love. When I worked out what I was doing, that's when I realised I wanted to do it again."

Of his past, he said: "I went to RADA, and did all that, and I thought I was going to go into theatre but it just didn't happen. It's sort of passed me by, really. In show business, and in life, doors open and some doors don't. You just go through the doors that open.

Peter Pan at The Orchard Theatre runs between December 14 and January 5.

Book online at orchardtheatre.co.uk or call the box office on 01322 220000.

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