HIS music career took him all over the world – but Derek Moran says appearing in panto in New Brighton this Christmas will feel like coming home.
The host of Channel 5 children’s TV strand Milkshake and former member of Irish boyband D-Side has signed up to play Smee in Peter Pan at the Floral Pavilion.
It will be his second stint at the theatre this year after the touring version of Milkshake came to the Floral in August.
He says he’s looking forward to getting out of his adopted home city of London for the festive season and even his costume – a garish blue and red polka dot one-piece – isn’t putting him off.
“The costume is great, it’s so comfortable!”, laughs the jovial Irishman.
“I’m really looking forward to coming back. Being here has a really homely feeling.
“And because I’m Irish I love the people up north.
“The crowd are always really up for it. Even parents join in which makes your job easier.
“There’s nothing worse than when people sit there with their arms crossed thinking: ‘I’ve had to take my kids to this’.”
Milkshake has been on tour for most of the year and when Derek’s not on the road, he’s in the TV studio.
“I’m an absolute workaholic and not happy unless I’m busy,” he smiles.
“Even when I have a day off I’m doing something that needs to be done.
“Panto is my holiday!”
Derek says he lived out of a suitcase while travelling the world with D-Side, who enjoyed three top ten singles in the UK and number ones in Europe and Japan.
In his boyband days the fans were mostly teenagers – now he admits he’s a familiar face to youngsters but not always their parents.
He said: “The other day I was in a supermarket and a little girl came up to me.
“She was saying ‘Peppa Pig’ and trying to hold my hand.
“Her mum was trying to get her away from me, then she realised who I was and said ‘Oh Derek, I’m so sorry’.
“She thought it was so weird her child was trying to talk to a strange man in a shop!”
Panto veteran Derek (“I think I’ve done every panto there is”) is relishing the prospect of taking up a new skill for Peter Pan.
“I’ve got to learn acrobatics for this show!” he exclaims.
“It’ll be a great laugh because you’ll probably see me falling flat on my face!
“I’ve only heard good things about our director Anthony Williams and he’s into making it the best show it possibly can be.
“There’s just something about panto. You’re working with people you’ve never met and it becomes a great big family.
“It’s Christmas so it’s a happy time of year and panto is fun – it’s nice to make people laugh.”
Peter Pan is at the Floral Pavilion from December 13 until January 6. Tickets can be booked on 0151 666 0000 or at www.floralpavilion.com