Sir Ian McKellen and John Bishop to perform in 'magical' pantomime in Liverpool in star lineup

Video report by Granada Reports Correspondent Victoria Grimes

Legendary actor Sir Ian McKellen has hailed a new pantomime as 'magical' after it was announced he is to star in a touring production of Mother Goose that will visit Liverpool.

McKellen, who was born in Burnley, will play the lead role alongside Liverpudlian comedian John Bishop as Vic Goose and actor and former Bake Off presenter Mel Giedroyc as the Goose.

Written by Coronation Street’s Jonathan Harvey and directed by Cal McCrystal, the show will visit Liverpool Empire theatre from 28 February to 3 March.

Sir Ian called John Bishop "my boy". Credit: ITV News

The pantomime tells the story of Mother Goose and her husband Vic, who run an animal sanctuary and live a wholesome life inside an abandoned Debenhams department store, but the sudden arrival of a goose causes upheaval.

During the launch for the show, Sir Ian and John Bishop climbed out of a giant golden egg before posing for photos with co-stars.

Sir Ian McKellen with his co-star John Bishop Credit: PA

Sir Ian said: “It is a serious story told comically. It is about good and bad, and of course good always triumphs in a pantomime.

“It uses every device theatre can offer. There is singing, there is dancing, there is rhyme, there are jokes, there is sentiment, there is audience participation, there is a man dressed as a woman, a woman dressed as a goose.

“Everything has gone haywire and it is all for the audience to have a good time. That is the only reason you do it."

McKellen believes panto should be subsidised by the government Credit: PA

Sir Ian, who appeared as Widow Twankey in Aladdin at The Old Vic between 2004 and 2006, called for the Government to directly subsidise pantomime.

He said: “I have done pantomime before once and I enjoyed it so much, simply because the audience did.

“Of all the forms of live entertainment, pantomime is the one in which the audience and the performer are actually together. If you can get it right it is magical.

“Government should subsidise pantomime, because kids come with their parents and their grandparents and their siblings and they are all laughing at the same thing – and they are next door to other families doing exactly the same."

The three main stars of Mother Goose Credit: ITV News

John Bishop said appearing alongside Sir Ian was a large factor in him taking the role.

Sir Ian joked that he was not sure he could live up to John Bishop's standards, to which the comedian remarked: "as an actor he's talking about!"

Speaking about the show's stint at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool, John joked: "It was part of the contract.

"It's a fantastic theatre", he added.

Mel Giedroyc and Jonathan Harvey Credit: ITV News

Mel Giedroyc said: "I've got to lay about 160 eggs a week, what's that going to do the pelvic floors?

"I've got to honk a bit, I'm certainly going to be honking in that costume."

The comedian, who has appeared in recent episodes of long-running BBC One series Doctor Who as Dan Lewis, said of Sir Ian McKellan: “Let’s be honest. He is a legend, isn’t he? So everybody involved in this production is raising their game a little bit.”

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