There are baddies – and then there are real unreformed baddies according to Louis Emerick who is donning evil-looking iron work and Charles II locks to appear in this year’s St Helens panto.
The Brookside, Corrie, Last of the Summer Wine and Zapped star is playing the arch villain Hook in Peter Pan, starring alongside Strictly dancer Kristina Rihanoff as Tinkerbell for the festive season.
“What I like about Hook is I think all the other baddies in all the pantos, they all turn good in the end,” he reveals “But he’s evil right to the very end, until he either gets eaten by the croc or gets thrown overboard. He’s still holding on to that evil.”
There are bound to be plenty of boos coming his way then when Emerick takes to the stage at the Theatre Royal from this week.
He smiles: “I used to say to stage managers...have I made a little one cry today? Yes!! If I can make a small child cry, then I’ve done it.”
Christmas shows in Liverpool and beyond
Emerick comes from a big family – were there childhood trips to the panto?
“There were eight of us. But the very first time I think I experienced a panto was taking my kids," he recalls. "Perhaps I’d know one of the cast or something - but any excuse to go. And watching with kids you see the magic through their eyes. It’s just beautiful.
“There’s something for adults, there’s something for kids. Hopefully some of it goes over the kids’ heads!”
Theatre and TV have run side by side in the 55-year-old’s life over the last few years – and many Merseyside theatregoers will have seen quite a lot of Emerick. Literally, if they went to watch him in The Full Monty, which returns to the Liverpool Empire in 2019.
Louis Emerick as Horse in The Full Monty
The show, based on the hit 1997 film, is taking a break over Christmas which has enabled Emerick – who plays Horse – to take on Hook duties.
“I was very lucky this last Christmas,” he says, “talking about magical stuff, to have been involved in Elf the Musical. It had the lovely Joe McGann, it had Liz McClarnon, and Jessica Martin.
“And Ben Forster, who played the Elf, was absolutely brilliant.”
Until he broke his ankle.
“Until he broke his ankle on the penultimate Saturday,” he agrees. “What an actor, what a performer. And the whole company. The acting ensemble, the triple threats – sing, dance, act.”
Elf spent eight weeks at The Lowry, which gave Emerick the chance to spend the festive season at home.
And he’s looking forward to the chance to be at home for Christmas again this year. It means his youngsters Rio, 10, and seven-year-old Sienna, can also come to see him on stage.
“It’s one of those great things, panto,” he says. “You can have four different generations of family who come and watch something together. How rare is that these days?”
Peter Pan is at the St Helens Theatre Royal from December 8 to January 13. Tickets from the website HERE