5 things interview with Entertainer Brian Conley

Brian Conley stars at Buttons in Cinderella at the New Victoria
Theatre, Woking from Friday 2nd to Saturday 31st December 2022

We’re very pleased to have you back in Woking again, are you looking forward to being back?

Of course, very much so. I love panto and it’s my first love. It really ticks all the boxes. The cast are
singers, dancers (although I’m not a brilliant dancer – I lasted 6 weeks on Strictly) and people want
to see the fun and we give them just that!

Panto is a different type of laugh too, it’s a family laugh where the whole family can enjoy the jokes
right from the kids up to the grandparents – everyone is having a great time!

I missed panto so much in lockdown so I’m happy to be back. I’ve been in EastEnders for two years,
so being in panto is very different to that – it’s all about having a laugh and making people smile.
Get that Buttons costume dry cleaned..!

You’re a pantomime veteran now, how did you originally get into panto?

It was that long ago, I really can’t remember. I’ve always done panto. I come from a variety
background and although I love the television side too, live is really where it is at.

The first panto I saw was 57 years ago and I have never forgotten that first moment of seeing a live
show. There are kids in the audience tonight that won’t forget this as their first ever panto – and
that’s just magical!

Last year, Ian McKellen came to see the panto I was in in Southend. I didn’t realise and I had put a
joke in about calling one of the characters Gandalf. I think Ian must have thought I knew he was
coming! After the show, Ian had commented about how the panto had made him cry with laughter –
that’s the magic of panto!

What can we expect from the Cinderella pantomime this year?

Lots of fun and laughter for the whole family and it really is just that! We want to ensure that people
go away feeling like they have had a good time at the panto!

Last year in Southend, we didn’t have a single night where there wasn’t a standing ovation. We
always put on a good show from the beginning which makes the audience come back for more and

What makes you return to being Buttons in Cinderella every year?

Cinderella is the best panto (I think!) and is my all-time favourite. Buttons is also a wonderful
character. He’s fun and he’s there to brighten up Cinderella’s life. He wants Cinderella to be happy
and he’s such an integral part of the show. He does love Cinderella but unfortunately, she doesn’t love him. There is a big moment in the show where it shows the true friendship between the two and there is always silence in the show at that part which is really powerful.

You’ll be doing over 50 performances in Woking, how do you keep your performances so fresh and

I made a commitment as a performer to always put on a good show. It’s in my blood and what I’ve
been doing for so long. I appreciate how important it is for everyone to say they enjoyed the show.
Word of mouth is so important and it’s so vital for everyone to enjoy the show so much that they
then go and tell their friends, and this will keep them coming back for years and years with different
family members. Another thing is I don’t drink (I haven’t in 19 years) so I like to do the show, go home and sleep – because it’s very important that I’m fresh and ready to give the best show the next day.

We love that you’ve made pantomime a family affair in your house, how do you feel about your children following in your footsteps?

Yes, my daughter Lucy is playing Baby Bear in Goldilocks and the Three Bears in Richmond this year
and we are all really delighted. Lucy has grown up with me performing in panto and coming to see
me each year so we are all excited for her – although I will miss her being around this year!
As our runs are similar, I won’t get to go and see her. My wife is really torn about who’s opening
night she will go to… she’ll probably go to Lucy’s

What is the secret to a great pantomime?

Energy, pace and visual comedy which plays right across the board. It’s also really important to make
it local and topical too so the audiences can relate. If you keep it visual and silly… it makes a great pantomime!

What’s your favourite part about pantomime?

Laughter. I love making people laugh. I’ve been it most of my life. It’s also for the whole family –
parents, grandparents, and the kids. Everyone relates to the jokes, and everyone ends up laughing at
everyone else. I just love being live and since lockdown it has made everyone appreciate things more. I love being in EastEnders but of course that is different being in front of the camera but you just can’t beat live.

Tickets from £13, fees apply. You can book tickets by calling the Box Office on 0844 871 7615 (Fees
apply. Calls cost up to 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge), Groups Booking
Line 0207 206 1174 or online at ATGTICKETS.COM/Woking (fees apply).