TV Presenter - Actor - Director - Producer - Writer - Trainer - After Dinner Speaker

Peter with his wife, Kathryn, in Robinson Crusoe, Xmas 1983

Home Page

Current Activities

Doctor Who

Blue Peter

Peter In Sport

With Animals

In the Theatre

Full CV


As The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland (TV 1972)

'Busy Bee' sketch with Noakes in Cinderella, Xmas 1978

Recent Activities
Peter 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 1991 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.

Previously Peter 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 Dick 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.

Here are some extracts from some of the panto reviews Peter has recently been involved with
"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 theatre….

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 counts.

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
Peter 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
His 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.
Spending 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.
Leaving 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".
Even 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.
His 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
The New Wolsey Theatre - Ipswich

East Suffolk Theatre Amateur Awards