Scooby Doo is back in the spotlight

Emma LeeScooby dooby doooooo. Celebrating his 40th birthday this year, the lovable cartoon canine Scooby Doo continues to delight generations of youngsters. He and the gang return to the stage in a brand new show, which has its world premiere in Norwich on Tuesday. EMMA LEE speaks to cast member Jamie Wilson.Emma Lee

He hasn't aged a bit - but later this year Scooby Doo celebrates his 40th birthday. The loveable cartoon canine has delighted generations of youngsters with his ghost-hunting antics.

And the sandwich-loving hound continues to win new young fans thanks to appearances on the screen and in theatres.

The latest stage show to feature Scooby and the Mystery Inc gang - Scooby Doo and the Pirate Ghost - has its world premiere at the Norwich Theatre Royal on Tuesday, February 17.

Promising to be a real half-term treat, Scooby and his sidekicks Shaggy, Velma, Daphne and Fred, visit a tropical island.


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But - to quote Shaggy, 'zoiks' - they soon discover that the Pirate Queen and her crew are up to no good.

Jamie Wilson plays Fred. It's his third Scooby Doo tour, and he says that it's one of the most fun jobs an actor can have.

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'I started out as Scooby's understudy - and then the guy playing Fred left, so I stepped into his shoes,' he says, grabbing a quick chat with EDP2 during a break in rehearsals.

'Fred's the so-called leader of the gang - but that's mainly because he's the only one who can drive, so he has the pleasure of chauffeuring them around. He always thinks he's got a good plan up his sleeve, but usually it's Velma who gets them out of trouble.

'It's a real pleasure to go to work. The show's full of colour and life and it's a nice feeling to put smiles on people's faces - especially the way things are at the moment. It's nice to put a bit of fun back into people's lives,' he says.

Jamie thinks that the show appeals to parents just as much as their offspring - and admits that he enjoyed watching old episodes of Scooby Doo for research.

'In the last 30 years you can't help but have seen at least one episode of Scooby Doo. The parents were brought up on it, and the kids have seen it too,' he says.

'The original episodes are my favourite by a long shot,' he adds.

The tour is a gruelling one - Jamie will be on the road until the end of October. But, luckily, his girlfriend is also in the cast.

'I met her on the last Scooby tour, and she's in this one, too, playing the Pirate Queen. It's nice to go on the road together. When you're in this business and on tour you can be away for six months or a year, so it's good that we'll have this time together,' he says.

And he says that he's looking forward to returning to Norwich.

'We're going everywhere - places we haven't been before, and some favourites. We opened in Norwich last time and we know the crew there are fantastic, extremely professional. Anything can go wrong when you're putting a new show on, and the guys in the theatre really get into it and are really helpful,' he says.

Jamie says that he didn't really mean to become an actor. He grew up in a small town north of Hull and the nearest drama school was two hours away in Leeds. But, inspired by school trips to see shows by local playwright John Godber, he took drama as one of his GCSE options.

'I came out of uni with an agent, which is half the battle, and it's gone from there. I don't think I ever really made a conscious decision to do this - but I don't know what I would be if I wasn't doing this. I would have liked to have been a professional footballer, but that was never going to happen,' he says.

Although he anticipates suffering from first-night nerves, Jamie says the buzz he gets from being on stage is second to none.

'I've done bits of telly and it's great, but I really love theatre. If someone drops a line or if a piece of scenery doesn't come on you have to get yourself out of that situation - with 2,000 people watching that's a pretty big deal.

'On the first night I always feel really nervous and say 'I'm not doing this again', but then you get out there and it's a great feeling when you've had a good show,' he says.

Scooby Doo and The Pirate Ghost is at Norwich Theatre Royal from Tuesday February 17 to Saturday February 21. Performances are at 6.30pm with matinees at 2.30pm Wednesday to Saturday, plus an additional 11am performance on the Saturday. Tickets cost from �5-�21. Concessions are available for under 14s and under-threes get in free. Call the box office on 01603 630000 or visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

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