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Panto star Alex Delamere on playing the Emperor and his love of Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 12:09 14 December 2018 | UPDATED: 13:08 14 December 2018

Alex Delamere as The Emperor Photo Simon Finlay Photography

Alex Delamere as The Emperor Photo Simon Finlay Photography

2018

Heading to Norfolk to play the Emperor in this year's Norwich Theatre Royal panto, Aladdin, was like a homecoming for actor Alex Delamere - for he has been coming to the county since he was a baby.

An Essex boy by birth, he is a Norfolk man at heart and is delighted to have unpacked his suitcase and settled in for the long panto run.

“My first experience of Norfolk was the Norfolk Broads when I was 18 months old.

“My mum had a pink fit because she thought I was going to fall off the boat because I was always in trouble wandering around, so I wasn’t allowed to come again until I was five and could swim.

“Those were the rules. But then after that, we were into Norwich and Norfolk every year. Easter holidays were on the boat on the Broads. It was great!”

From the Broads to the boards and Alex has trod some illustrious stages, not least the four years he spent in the West End cast of Billy Elliot as Mr Braithwaite, the character who played the piano for Billy’s dance lessons.

Alex Delamere as the Emperor and Anna Hannides as Princess Willow at  heatre Royal Norwich Panto 2018. Photo Simon Finlay PhotographyAlex Delamere as the Emperor and Anna Hannides as Princess Willow at heatre Royal Norwich Panto 2018. Photo Simon Finlay Photography

He is also no stranger to the small screen with previous recurring roles including Colin Matthews in Emmerdale and Sergeant Stan Briggs in Doctors, and he has appeared in Casualty, Merlin, Heartbeat, The Bill and Coronation Street.

But he wasn’t always destined to be front of stage. Born in Cranham in Upminster, Alex’s early years saw him doing some school productions but on the technical side, which he continued with on leaving school. “I was probably doing 50 or 60 hours of that a week. So I decided I was in the wrong profession because I was only getting paid for 40 hours.”

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He was a keen rugby player until he was 27 and gave up the sport to go to ballet school. “There was a motley crew of about five or six of us who were all there doing double-work classes.

“There was a builder, there was an ex-Navy sergeant major, there was a boxer from the Marines, there was a carpenter and there was me – archetypal ballet dancers!

“But we could lift anybody you put in front of us. And then I went to Rose Bruford College for three years which was great and I absolutely loved that.”

Norwich Theatre Royal's 2018 pantomime - Aladdin. The cast of the pantomime. Picture: Simon Finlay PhotographyNorwich Theatre Royal's 2018 pantomime - Aladdin. The cast of the pantomime. Picture: Simon Finlay Photography

He has played most roles in panto-land from Dame to Baron to Ugly Sister. “I haven’t done Principal Boy – I think that’s because the tights didn’t fit very well! I’ve only ever played the hero once when I was younger.

“Because I was a late developer, I came in playing character roles as opposed to leads and I think it’s probably a bit late for me to play Prince Charming.

READ MORE: Nine cheap and free things to do in Norfolk this week - from ice skating to meeting reindeer

He’s finding his character of the Emperor in Aladdin very interesting.

“He’s sort of slightly self-centred but he has a heart of gold and he really loves his daughter. Hopefully he’ll have a certain charm about him and that’s what I hope to bring. He has a few idiosyncratic things – he likes to call himself the Em-pora and he lives in the Pa-larce.”

So from the Pa-larce to the Roy-al and Alex is enjoying a short commute into the theatre each day from his accommodation with friends in Taverham who he visits often.

Alex DelamereAlex Delamere

His list of special places for his fellow cast members to visit is topped by Holkham Beach.

“Everyone knows about that, but I do love it. If you get up there early in the morning, it’s like nowhere else in the world. My friends have got dogs so we take them out on the beach in the morning.”

READ MORE: Eight places in Norfolk and Suffolk you can go for a Christmas swim

Aladdin is at Norwich Theatre Royal until January 13 and tickets cost from £10 to £24.50 with discounts available for under-189s ad over 60s.

To book, log onto www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 630000.

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