Panto clown Rik tries jokes out on his kids

Jack & the Beanstalk, Photocall at the Pomegranate ,Theatre'Rik Gaynor
Jack & the Beanstalk, Photocall at the Pomegranate ,Theatre'Rik Gaynor

Clown prince of panto Rik Gaynor knows just who to turn to when if comes to testing out his gags.

Clown prince of panto Rik Gaynor knows just who to turn to when if comes to testing out his gags.

His kids Billie, 14, and Charlie, 11, are his sounding board. “They help me out with a lot of the stuff. I try my jokes and songs out on them; if they like them, I know it’s a goer.

“They have grown up with panto all their life and have known so many celebrities,” said Rik who has worked with Vanilla Ice, Wayne Sleep, Ray Mann (Alf from Home and Away) and Chris Ellison (DCI Burnside from The Bill).

Rik is especially pleased to have landed a part in Chesterfield’s panto, Jack and the Beanstalk, this year as it’s just a short trip away from his home in Alfreton.

“I can catch the train and be here in ten minutes. Above all, I am pleased that I’ll be at home for Christmas and with my chldren for once.”

He’s added this year’s incarnation as joker Muddles to a packed portfolio of panto characters stretching back 20 years. “For a good couple of scenes I can get a lot of local humour in there, such as ey up mi duck,” he said. “I like to play the idiot!”

“The beauty of panto is that every day you don’t know what is going to happen and you never know what the kids in the audience are going to say.”

Some panto characters he’s enjoyed playing more than others. “I have only played the dame once and that was Widow Twankey. I didn’t like it; I am not into putting make-up on, I’m not into putting on a frock and a wig.”

And Peter Pan holds painful memories for Rik but for different reasons. In two energetic productions, he dislocated his shoulder in one and his ankle in another.

But despite the injuries, he keeps coming back for more. “I’ll keep doing panto as long as I can walk and talk,” said 45-year-old Rik.

He was set on the long and winding road to pantoland by the late Bill Maynard, who played Greengrass in Heartbeat.

Rik was working as entertainments manager at Flamingo Land when Bill offered him a panto in Guildford. That led to him being snapped up by one of the country’s biggest panto producers and taking his talents on tour around the country where he did pantos winter and summer.

As well as starring in festive family favourites, Rik turns his talents to writing panto scripts and composing party dances and songs

Not bad for a class clown who left school at 14 because he had no interest in it and ran away with the fair to work the dodgems. “I always said that I wanted to be an entertainer,” he added.

Jack and the Beanstalk, starring Charlie Dimmock, opens at the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield, tomorrow (Friday, December 7) and runs until January 6, 2012.