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Why the long face? Is EastEnders’ Sid Owen happy to star in the Lowestoft panto?

PUBLISHED: 14:59 19 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:54 24 September 2018

Sid Owen couldn't hide his excitement when I asked for a picture Credit: Louisa Baldwin

Sid Owen couldn't hide his excitement when I asked for a picture Credit: Louisa Baldwin

Archant

As an EastEnders superfan, seriously I haven’t missed an episode since I was eight years old and I’m now 23, when I heard Sid Owen had been cast as Hook I was more excited than Phil Mitchell in a brewery.

Nestled behind Lowestoft High Street, the historic Marina Theatre is an island of culture in the hustle and bustle of the high street.

The theatre itself is a really beautiful building with seating for 800 and first opened in 1878 as a theatre after beginning life as a skating rink.

After arriving at the theatre I was led into the main auditorium where Sid was posing for press shots on stage alongside Anthony Sahota as Peter Pan, who appeared on BBC1 talent show Let it Shine, Sophie Holt as Wendy and Lowestoft panto favourite Terry Gleed as Smee.

Sid was wearing a permed wig that even Peggy circa 1990 would have been jealous of, teamed with a long red coat and a giant hook on his hand.

Launch of the Lowestoft Marina Theatre pantomime  'Peter Pan' staring  EastEnders star, Sid Owen a Captain Hook. 
Picture: Nick ButcherLaunch of the Lowestoft Marina Theatre pantomime 'Peter Pan' staring EastEnders star, Sid Owen a Captain Hook. Picture: Nick Butcher

The soapstar looked tired on stage, probably because he’d only flown into England the night before as he now lives in a mansion in the south of France – a far cry from the crowded house he shared with Bianca and the clan in EastEnders.

He also shouted out to his PR across the theatre that he had to be gone by 1pm to get to Celebrity Juice with Keith Lemon – clearly his second most high profile engagement of the day.

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I was led upstairs to a function room where tables were set out like a parents’ evening for press interviews and Sid was led upstairs to meet us.

He was still a bit grumpy when he entered the room, but I could forgive considering he was probably looking out on the Cote d’Azur the day before.

Launch of the Lowestoft Marina Theatre pantomime  'Peter Pan' staring  EastEnders star, Sid Owen a Hook. 
Picture: Nick ButcherLaunch of the Lowestoft Marina Theatre pantomime 'Peter Pan' staring EastEnders star, Sid Owen a Hook. Picture: Nick Butcher

When we started interviewing about the show his mood seemed to pick up although I was a little disheartened he wasn’t like the upbeat Ricky Butcher that graced our screens for 30 years on and off.

“I’m looking forward to playing Hook as I’ve never played a baddie before, I’ve always done the Prince Charming role so it should be fun.

“I will be hamming up the role and with Pirates of the Caribbean it’s different now as you can go over the top and I’ll be watching when I start rehearsing.

“Panto really puts you in the mood for Christmas and once you see everyone else enjoying themselves it gives you a buzz – there’s nothing like doing a good live performance.

Launch of the Lowestoft Marina Theatre pantomime  'Peter Pan' staring Sid Owen as Hook.  Anthony Sahota (Peter Pan), Terry Gleed (Smee), Sid Owen (Hook) and Sophie Holt (Wendy) Picture: Nick ButcherLaunch of the Lowestoft Marina Theatre pantomime 'Peter Pan' staring Sid Owen as Hook. Anthony Sahota (Peter Pan), Terry Gleed (Smee), Sid Owen (Hook) and Sophie Holt (Wendy) Picture: Nick Butcher

“It’s a great family show and there are always hidden jokes for the adults too.”

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This is Sid’s first time in Lowestoft and he will be staying in the town for the duration of the show.

But I’m sure his co-star Terry Gleed, who is playing Smee, will be able to show him around as this is his fourth year in a row in the Marina Theatre pantomime.

Sid said: “It’s my first time in Lowestoft but I woke up this morning with a beautiful clear blue sky.

Launch of the Lowestoft Marina Theatre pantomime  'Peter Pan' staring EasteEnders actor Sid Owen as Hook.
Anthony Sahota (Peter Pan) with Sid Owen (Captain Hook)
Picture: Nick ButcherLaunch of the Lowestoft Marina Theatre pantomime 'Peter Pan' staring EasteEnders actor Sid Owen as Hook. Anthony Sahota (Peter Pan) with Sid Owen (Captain Hook) Picture: Nick Butcher

“I will live here during panto and I won’t be heading back to London here for the whole duration and will make it home.”

However, when we go on to discuss whether he misses playing Ricky his mood drops and he scoffs a biscuit in his mouth in front of me in protest - you can tell he is bored of being asked about the character.

With this in mind, it probably wasn’t the best idea of the pantomime writers to call his character ‘Hookaaay’.

But just like Daniel Radcliffe and Harry Potter, Rowan Atkinson and Mr Bean, ‘Rickaaay’ Butcher is a role he will never be able to shift.

Launch of the Lowestoft Marina Theatre pantomime  'Peter Pan' staring Sid Owen as Hook.

Anthony Sahota (Peter Pan), Terry Gleed (Smee), Sid Owen (Hook) and Sophie Holt (Wendy)
Picture: Nick ButcherLaunch of the Lowestoft Marina Theatre pantomime 'Peter Pan' staring Sid Owen as Hook. Anthony Sahota (Peter Pan), Terry Gleed (Smee), Sid Owen (Hook) and Sophie Holt (Wendy) Picture: Nick Butcher

Mechanic Ricky was the son of character Frank Butcher and was best known for his electric on-screen partnership with the ginger, puffa-coat clad Bianca Jackson, played by Patsy Palmer, and first joined the show in 1988.

“I do miss EastEnders a bit but it’s nice because I’ve done it for so long so it’s good to have a rest.

“I live in France now so I can walk around quite happily there without getting recognised but as soon as I get back to England it’s a different story.

“I’m used to being recognised now as it’s been 30 years since I first appeared.

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“People relate to Ricky as he’s a nice, everyday, downtrodden character and people like his normality and can relate to him.”

Asked where the weirdest place he gets recognised, he said: “when they stop you in the toilet having a pee.”

He is still mates with Patsy Palmer and, after already leaving the show four times, hasn’t ruled out returning again.

“EastEnders is a big part of my life and always will be and they have said the doors open which is great for me as it has given me the chance to leave and do other stuff like MasterChef and The Jump.”

After finishing the interview I asked Sid if I could get a photograph with him after exclaiming how big a fan of EastEnders I was.

After mumbling yes and playing on his phone for 30 seconds, leaving a very awkward silence in the room, he eventually posed for me with a scowl across his face.

Peter Pan runs at the Marina Theatre, Lowestoft from December 13 to January 1 and you can purchase tickets on the website or by phone on 01502 533200

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