Christmas is undoubtably a busy time for anyone but for TV funny-man Keith Chegwin it's even more so. Last year he appeared on the eighth series of Dancing On Ice after intense training during a four week pantomime season. This year Keith is back in pantomime at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon but not before returning to the ice at the London Palladium! Keith took the time out from rehearsals to talk about his busy schedule.
Where did your love of ice skating come from Keith? Was it something you've always enjoyed or was Dancing On Ice your first experience of it?
Dancing On Ice was the first sort of real serious experience of skating but when I was about twelve I went to a stage school with Phil Collins and his sister Carol Collins was a champion ice skater! We stayed with her for a little while and she took me to the ice rink and I got to learn a few things but then I just stopped it. Two years ago Dancing On Ice phoned up and it was between that or Strictly Come Dancing and obviously I chose Dancing On Ice and it's been my love ever since!
I've caught you in the middle of rehearsals here because you're about to take to the ice again with the Imperial Ice Stars at the London Palladium?
Yeah, The Nutcracker On Ice! It's such an honour, it's a bit like the Royal Ballet phoning up and saying "Oh we're doing Swan Lake, have you got any tights? Can you help us out!?" ... These guys on ice, it's a different kettle of fish isn't it, Dancing On Ice is fantastic and I can't tell you how much I'd recommend anybody go off and do it but they're restrained to health and safety - this it's just away you go! These are 26 Olympic athletes that between them own over 250 medals for Olympic and Commonwealth games and I think to myself "Oh my God... I've only won the Radio Lollipop award!"
And this is the London Palladium we're talking about here... how are the nerves?
Well it's weird, I've never really suffered from nerves, I suffer from excitement! I get really buzzy about things, yesterday in rehearsals I was that excited I was just catching my blades all over the place! My ambition for this is when you see us come on stage you won't know it's me! You'll think "oh no that's one of the profes.... oh no, it IS Keith!" - I want my skating to be up to scratch really. But the London Palladium for us old people is like the O2 now, it's the climax of your career.
Keith and partner Olga Sharutenko the last series of Dancing On Ice
People don't really appreciate what all this is about though. When I say to people I'm in The Nutcracker they're like "oh, okay..." but no, this takes you into a fantasy world - we're flying in it and there's magic and for the first time ever I shall be on stage and not shouting "Wey Hey!" or "it's behind you!"
So what can we expect from the pantomime afterwards then? Back to Keith we know and love?
Oh I don't know, I might leave my skates on, it has been done before! Last year one of the characters in our panto had his roller skates on and went round the stage! He was really good ... he has been in Starlight Express though! I shall be sad to take my skates off really but I do love panto as well, especially at the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon - Jack And The Beanstalk this year, come and see us! It's my third year back there and it's like coming home to family! Everyone backstage and front of house are all really nice people and the audiences are great. I remember the best compliment I was ever given was from the theatre manager Derek Aldridge and he said "Keith, can you just calm it down because the kids keep jumping up and wrecking the seats!" Haha, I was likes yessss!! I've done my job!
Keith in last years pantomime Aladdin at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon
You can see Keith reunited with his Dancing On Ice partner Olga Sharutenko in The Nutcracker On Ice at the London Palladium from 24 October - 3 November by booking tickets here. Tickets are between £21 and £76. Following that you can catch the show at the Wales Milennium Centre, Cardiff from 8 - 17 November and at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton from 19 - 23 November.
You can then see Keith in pantomime, Jack And The Beanstalk at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon from 7 December 2013 - 5 January 2014. For more information on the pantomime click here. To book tickets click here.
Listen to an extended version of the interview with Keith and dance partner Olga Sharutenko below:
Jack And The Beanstalk (Press Launch)
Aladdin (Wyvern Theatre) Review