Britain’s King of Pantomime prepares for his 56th year on stage

Amateur actor Martin Crowther clearly knows a thing or two about panto – he’s about to star in his 50th…

The 60-year-old began treading the boards aged four and has been in every festive show going from Dick Whittington to Cinderella.

His first role was as a child in Babes in the Wood at his local village hall.

The dad-of-one said: “From four years old I was absolutely hooked with it. When I look back and think about the friendships, I realise it’s incredibly close to my heart.

“Whenever I’m in the area, people often stop and ask, ‘Aren’t you the guy from the theatre?’”

After that first show Martin joined an amateur theatre group in the village of Wales, South Yorks.

He started with small parts in the Wales Community Theatre Players chorus and landed his first major role as Dick Whittington’s Idle Jack in the early 70s.

The retired company manager, of nearby Anston, added: “When I got a bit older I had children and they wanted to be in the pantos.

“So I just carried on doing it myself. I must’ve been in every single panto there is to produce.”

Grandad Martin’s 50th panto will also be Babes in the Wood, in which he plays a robber who snatches children.

He said: “It’s funny because in 1963 I was one of the babes and now I’m the one who has to kidnap them.”

But it will be tinged with sadness as his father, who worked in panto, died this year aged 92.

Martin, whose wife July, 56, is the theatre manager, added: “This will be the first year I’ve done one without dad watching.” Wherever he is Martin, he’ll no doubt be behind you…

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