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‘Doric is mental… I love it’ – Strictly legend Brendan Cole is hooked on HMT’s Peter Pan panto

brendan cole peter pan aberdeen
Brendan Cole says he loves playing Captain Hook in Peter Pan, this year's panto at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

Brendan Cole is waltzing into unfamiliar territory as Captain Hook in Peter Pan – this year’s glittering panto at His Majesty’s Theatre – and it’s all the fault of Doric.

The Strictly Come Dancing legend has a fair few lines in the Mither Tongue to contend with in the show – a trademark of director and writer Alan McHugh’s scripts in this annual Christmas treat at HMT.

“I think my first reply to Alan was: ‘Your language is mental’ … no offence to all the people from up here, but it is full-on,” said Brendan, laughing.

“When you read the script you go ‘how the heck does this work’ but when you are in situ and it’s working it’s bloody brilliant. We’re having a lot of fun with it on stage.”

Brendan Cole got into character as Captain Hook when the cast of Peter Pan visited Codona’s in Aberdeen earlier this year. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson.

Brendan loves playing a panto villain for the first time in Peter Pan at HMT

Doric isn’t the only new venture for Brendan – while he’s no stranger to pantos, this is the first time he’s ever played a villain. He’s loving it.

“I was quite apprehensive at first because it’s such a strong role to perform and I’ve only ever played the nice people and it’s fairly easy to be sweet and make a joke,” said Brendan, who is looking forward to opening night on Saturday December 3.

“But to be the villain is demanding – I overdid it on day one of rehearsals trying to impress everyone and ruined my throat. But it’s slowly coming back and I’m loving the challenge of it. From now on I’ll be requesting I only play the baddies. It’s awesome.”

Brendan Cole relaxing in his dressing room at His Majesty’s Theatre between rehearsals for Peter Pan. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson

But then, Brendan seems to be loving every minute of rehearsals for Peter Pan, which will see him star alongside Alan McHugh, returning as Dame Maggie Celeste, and PJ Corrigan (Smee), Danielle Jam (Tinkerbell), Michael Karl-Lewis (Peter Pan) and Beth Nicholson (Wendy).

“(Rehearsals) are going brilliantly, the cast are phenomenal and super-talented. Alan has done a phenomenal job with the script. From day one we were all laughing hysterically over the script which we’ve been reading for weeks. So that’s a testament to him and the talent on stage.”

Brendan Cole says his HMT panto co-stars will ‘rip the mickey’ out of him

As well as the colourful costumes, great music, and spectacular effects, HMT’s pantos are famous for the way the stars of the show find themselves on the receiving end of many jokes from Alan and PJ. Brendan will be no exception and he doesn’t mind at all.

“There are many shenanigans that go on behind the scenes and we are all very much on the same page with each other’s sense of humour,” said the ballroom superstar.

The cast of Peter Pan, this year’s panto at His Majesty’s Theatre, are Alan McHugh, PJ Corrigan, Michael Karl-Lewis, Danielle Jam and Brendan Cole. Image: Wullie Marr/ DC Thomson.

“I will be the first person to lose my line – I have the memory of a goldfish – so I can’t wait to see the look on their faces when I’m giving them dialogue and forget something.

“They will rip the absolute mickey out of me on stage live. I love that. I love that about them and I love that about panto.”

This is a different take on JM Barrie’s story – the clue being its full title, The Pantomime Adventures Of Peter Pan.

With the permission of Barrie’s estate, this version takes up after the events of the original, where Peter Pan has forgotten how to fly, Tinkerbell fetches Wendy back to Neverland to teach him to soar again – and Captain Hook has escaped from the crocodile.

Ready for the curtain to go up on Peter Pan – Brendan Cole in the auditorium of His Majesty’s Theatre. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson.

“It’s quite exciting, because normally with Peter Pan you have to tell the back story, but everybody knows the back story. So this time we are just straight in and go which allows us to do a little bit more on stage than has been done in the past,” said Brendan.

“So anybody who has seen Peter Pan in the past will not have seen a production quite like this.”

Brendan Cole reflects on his time with Strictly Come Dancing

Of course, Brendan is bound to be a big draw with Strictly fans, as well as those who have enjoyed his frequent visits to Aberdeen with his own shows, and the new fans he found on Dancing On Ice earlier this year.

Brendan says he was asked recently if he misses Strictly, having won the show with Natasha Kaplinsky in the first-ever series, then appeared for 14 seasons before leaving in 2018.

Brendan Cole with Natasha Kaplinsky in the first series of Strictly Come Dancing – which the pair won. Image: BBC.

“I was put on the spot when I was asked. I really didn’t think I did but, actually, when I talked about it, I do miss it,” he said.

“I do miss being part of that massive production, which I was very much part of the making of in the early days. I was very much part of the team that made it what it was in those first 15 series.”

Brendan knows he will be forever associated with the show – the Strictly theme tune is the one that breaks out when he’s introduced at appearances such as corporate events.

“I am synonymous with the show and I love that. I love the fact it has grown and I think they do a fantastic job of making a great TV show. I’m very proud of the part I had within that.”

Molly Rainford and Carlos Gu are competing in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing – and have the Cole household vote. Image: BBC Picture Publicity.

Brendan said he still watches it occasionally when he’s not “running around with other things” but his daughter is an avid Strictly fan.

“Molly and Carlos are my daughter’s favourites so that’s who we’re voting for in our house,” he said, adding he loves that his daughter sees the magic in Strictly.

Magic is at the heart of Peter Pan’s panto at His Majesty’s Theatre

On the subject of magic – he reckons that’s at the very heart of Peter Pan and panto in general because it brings everyone together. A panto can delight audience members whether they are five years old, 50 or even 90, in a way that even West End shows can’t do.

“Pantomime does that through the beauty of the story and the magic, the costumes and the lighting and even the undertones of the jokes that only adults will get. It’s a night at the theatre with your family and I think that’s fantastic,” said Brendan.

Brendan Cole is getting his hooks into his villainous role in Peter Pan at His Majesty’s Theatre. Image: Wullie Marr/DC Thomson.

And he has a simple message to people coming to see The Pantomime Adventures Of Peter Pan.

“Expect everything you crazy people,” said Brendan, laughing. “This is a very, very good show.

“The writing is brilliant, the cast is brilliant and the production itself is a testament to all the people that put it on. It’s first class and people should be very excited to come to see it.”

The Pantomime Adventures Of Peter Pan is at His Majesty’s Theatre from Saturday December 3 to Sunday January 8. For information and tickets visit

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