For the 2004/2005 Xmas season Peter directed his 28th commercial
pantomime, Dick Whittington at the Opera House, Manchester.
This was the first time Peter had worked at the venue, although his wife,
actress/singer/dancer Kathryn Evans had appeared there as Evita in the
mid-eighties, and again in Hello Dolly, with Dora Bryan, and in Aspects
of Love in 1997. Peter's stars this year were again the Chuckle brothers,
and once more the show attracted huge audiences and took almost £1million
at the Box office in a short four week run. This was the third time Peter
had been paired with the comedy duo, and Peter felt it was a most successful
collaboration again. The shows reviews were excellent, and the word of mouth
in the town fantastic. Peter is hoping that 2005/6 could be another excellent
pantomime with the boys, but nothing is finalised as yet.
Here are some of the recent reviews from the show, and from last years show,
Cinderella at the Cliffs Pavilion, Southend, and Aladdin, the previous year
at The Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent.
"The Panto's great strength was the Chuckle Brothers.....Paul and
Barry made the most of 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 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 along 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
"The children were kept amused for all of the two and a 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 keeps in regular contact with the theatre through his chairmanship of the board
of The New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich which successfully re-opened in February 2001
after two years of darkness. Peter is particularly proud of the way that the board
was able to get the theatre funded by the three principal bodies, Arts Council
England, East; Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk CC. The next big challenge for
the board will be to raise the funds for the major refurbishment that the theatre
|Links to Theatre Websites|