Stars Bobby Davro and Brian Fortuna launch the new pantomime at Royal & Derngate

Northampton Panto launch of Aladdin at The Grosvenor Centre, with Bobby Davro and Brian Fortuna.
Northampton Panto launch of Aladdin at The Grosvenor Centre, with Bobby Davro and Brian Fortuna.
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VETERAN pantomime performer Bobby Davro has promised to take Strictly Come Dancing star. Brian Fortuna. “under his wing” ahead of their appearance together in a production of Aladdin at Royal & Derngate.

Both men were in the Grosvenor Centre in Northampton yesterday to officially launch the pantomime, which will also feature children’s TV favourite Basil Brush and Hi-De-Hi actor, Jeffrey Holland.

For Mr Fortuna, who left Strictly Come Dancing in 2009, it will be his first role in a pantomime but he will be helped by his experienced comedian co-performer, who will be appearing in his 27th pantomime in 30 years

Mr Davro, who will be playing the role of Wishee Washee, said: “I’ve played Aladdin before but they’ve decided to give the part to the younger better looking performer.

“I know it is Brian’s first pantomime so I will be taking him under my wing and showing him the tricks of the trade.”

Mr Davro said he would be inserting a lot of his own brand of humour into the show and would be using the traditional pantomime technique of grabbing every opportunity to interact with the audience and ‘ad lib’.

He said: “I do keep up to date with my comedy and will have a lot of topical references in the show. People say pantomime looks dangerous as it seems all off the cuff but it is not actually because it is really well rehearsed.

“I do like being creative on stage and interacting with the audience. We keep to the same story every show but if I see an opportunity to do something different I will.”

Mr Fortuna, who featured as a dancer in the Oscar-winning film The Aviator, said he was looking forward to the unique challenge of performing in a pantomime, something that doesn’t exist in his American homeland.

He said: “I see the pantomime as a challenge and something I really wanted to do. In America we don’t really have anything like it.

“I’m used to interacting with the crowd while I’m performing. Pantomime is all about having a good time.”

Mr Fortuna is best known for being one of the professional dancers on Strictly Come Dancing and he has developed a diehard group of fans called the Fortuna Fantastics who travel to every show he appears in.

The fan group were at the Grosvenor Centre in Northampton yesterday to see their idol and unveil a banner in his honour.

Group member Marion Richardson said: “We always go to see him in whatever show he is in and buy tickets for the last night.

“We’ve already bought tickets for the pantomime in Northampton.

“We come from all different parts of the country. One lady came from Wales to be here today.”

Mr Fortuna said that he had enjoyed being part of the hit BBC1 show and also competing on the American Dancing With The Stars show, but felt he wanted to “add more strings to his bow”.

He said: “Strictly Come Dancing was a big part of my life but I wanted to do other things as part of my long-term career. I wanted to act and sing and chose this year to get out and do it.”

Since leaving Strictly, Mr Fortuna has spent time as the lead choreographer on the BBC3 show Dancing On Wheels, pairing disabled and able-bodied contestants.

He was also the principal dancer in West End show Burn The Floor and his performances earned him a 2011 What’s On Stage Award nomination.

Mr Davro made his name as a comedian, impressionist, game-show host and actor.

His major breakthrough came with an appearance in Live At Her Majesty’s.

This led to his own Saturday night series, Bobby Davro On The Box, which topped the ratings for six consecutive years and made him a household name.

Last year he was seen gingerly taking to skates in ITV1’s Dancing On Ice. His other television appearances include Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Come Dine With Me and as the loveable rogue Vinnie Monks in EastEnders.

This year’s pantomime also stars the world’s most famous fox, Basil Brush, in the role of Chief Inspector Basil.

Since making his screen debut in the 1960s, Basil has appeared on countless television programmes, including Blue Peter, The Weakest Link and French and Saunders, and has hosted numerous series of his own TV shows, featuring his catchphrase, “Boom Boom!”

Staged by Qdos Entertainment, the world’s largest pantomime producer, Aladdin will feature the traditional flying carpet, stunning sets and spectacular costumes.

Aladdin runs from Friday, December 9 to Sunday, January 8, 2012.

Tickets can be booked by calling Northampton 624811 or visiting www.royalandderngate.co.uk