ventured back into the theatre at the end of 2012 with a performance as
Alderman Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington for Act One Pantomimes at the
Eric Morecambe Theatre in Harpenden. It was only a short run, very well
received, and he had an enjoyable time working with the director,
Chris Law. Two shows a day can be quite hard work, and Peter was
struggling with a painful hip, which he managed to have replaced in
July 2013. |
Prior to that performance Peter's last foray into the theatre was to direct his old friends Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball
in a pantomime at Lincoln Theatre Royal. This was Jack and the
Beanstalk. He says " To be honest this was not a huge success. The
theatre had been rented out to Noel Edmonds for his Christmas Presents
show, and was not really in a fit state for rehearsal. The outside
rehearsals went well, but once we were supposed to be in the theatre,
things got a little bit fraught. The show opened on time, but under
rehearsed, and I was disappointed with the end product. It was the
first time in 30 years that a show had opened less well than I thought
it should, and I decided that it would probably be my swan song as a
pantomime director. But I think my record speaks for itself."
|In the 2008/09
Xmas season Peter directed his 31st
pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the New Theatre in Hull, with The Grumbleweeds, Vicki Michelle (from ‘Allo,
‘Allo), and James Mackenzie
(Raven on CBBC) as the principal stars. It was a very successful show,
and he had a hard act to follow. The last time he directed there was in
with Cannon and Ball in Dick
Whittington in a show that broke all the house records, and
which, for “bums on seats”, still holds the record
for the venue.
Snow White was a fairly new venture
for Peter as he only directed his first version of the show at The Orchard in Dartford in 2007, with Wendi Peters (Coronation Street) as
the Wicked Queen. Both shows
were greeted with considerable critical praise, and were really more
like plays with music than traditional pantomime.
had directed the comedy duo, The
Chuckle Brothers in his fourth collaboration with them at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth in a
production of Jack and the Beanstalk.
His earlier shows with them had been Cinderella
(Southend) Aladdin (Stoke) and
Whittington (Manchester Opera House).
A full list of
Peter’s pantomimes can be found in the Full CV section in another page
of the site.
some extracts from some of the panto reviews Peter has recently been
"The panto’s great
strength was the Chuckle Brothers… Paul and Barry made the most
of the audience quips and the laughs and fun really flow. Add in the
excellent staging and spectacle held together by director Peter Purves,
who is surely one of the best in the panto business. He made the very
best use of the Pavilion’s large but difficult shallow stage, and
provided a show to laugh at and visibly (sic) enjoy, with a
particularly effective transformation scene.
This Cinderella looks like ensuring a good financial Christmas for the
Under the direction of Peter Purves, it is a finely balanced show that
moves at just the right pace. Topped off with spectacular sets and
stunning costumes, it is a sumptuous affair that hits the mark on all
Aladdin (has) stunning sets, lavish costumes, powerful genies, a
beautiful Princess, and a Chinese Laundry. It is definitely the place
for chuckling this Christmas
The children were kept amused forall of the two and half hour
performance – no mean feat – and the audience was left
calling for more. Oh Yes they were!"
|How it All Started
began acting at an early age - his first role at the age of nine was The Pied Piper of Hamelin. The following year
he played the title role in Robin Hood
and then Alan Breck in Kidnapped
first professional role was in repertory during school holidays at the
age of 17 as Sheriff in The Rainmaker
(1957, Her Majesty's Theatre, Barrow in Furness). He played one other
part during that summer before going on to train for two years as a
maths teacher! But teaching wasn't the life for Peter and he returned
to Barrow in 1961 as a permanent member of the company.
two years learning his trade in weekly rep. (that's performing a new
play every week) he appeared in 96 plays playing everything from
Malvolio in Twelfth Night to leading
roles in the Whitehall Farces. He
describes his time in Barrow as the hardest work, the most fun and the
least money he has ever had in his life.
Barrow to try his luck in London his first job was to play the Doctor
in Witness for the Prosecution at the Wimbledon Theatre. He followed
that with a three-month spell in the chorus in the Charlie Drake
vehicle, Man in the Moon at the London
Palladium. He recalls it "was a total disaster from day one until it
came off nine months earlier than scheduled".
during his years on Blue Peter, Peter
still made occasional appearances on stage, including two Children's Royal Variety Performances. Then in
1978 came his first commercial pantomime, Cinderella
at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford with John Noakes and Bonnie
Langford. It was in this show that Peter first met his wife, Kathryn,
who was playing Dandini. The show broke all box office records and laid
the foundation for his appearing in or directing 26 pantomimes.
recent Qdos pantos have been on a seriously large scale. He has
directed some of the biggest comedy stars currently working, from John Inman, to Hale and Pace, Bobby Davro to The
Chuckle brothers. And records have been broken at every venue.
He originally directed for E&B productions, then later for the
management group AMG, who merged with E&B to form Qdos some years
ago. Qdos is now the biggest pantomime producer in the country, with
some 30 shows each Xmas.
|Peter was proud to be elected to
the Board of the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. He is proud of the way
the board managed to get the theatre up and running after being “dark”
for two years, and secured funding by the three principal bodies, Arts Council England East; Ipswich
Borough Council, and Suffolk County Council. He was Chair of the
Board for two years, standing down in 2007 after completing the maximum
of six years. During his Chairmanship, the theatre got a badly needed
new roof, many other technical improvements, and plans were well
advanced for replacing the seating and other general refurbishments,
all of which have now been completed. CE Sarah Holmes and Artistic Director
Peter Rowe continue to run a marvellous Arts venue for the
people of Ipswich and the surrounding area. Long may it continue.
|Links to Theatre Websites