Pantomime will be in safe hands at Milton Keynes Theatre this Christmas - with Shane Richie taking the reins from Brian Conley and Gok Wan.
The previously advertised Snow White has been replaced by Robin Hood.
The former Queen Vic landlord will play the heroic outlaw in the seasonal treat.
“Each show will be different,” he promised in an exclusive chat.
“This is the third year doing it and we’ve got it down. “I do a whole improvisation thing at the beginning of the show too, which keeps me and the cast on our toes.”
Pantomime plasters smiles on faces, and increases the feelgood factor, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s an easy gig.
“The hard part is making it look easy,” Shane says, name-checking his peers Brian Conley, Bradley Walsh, Paul O’Grady and Joe Pasquale as aces in the pack, and admitting he doesn’t favour working with reality stars.
Shane has spent decades in the public eye - he’s the cheeky chappie loved for his work as a presenter, and for his time in soapland starring as Alfie Moon to acclaim.
Music is another passion, and he released his latest album, A Country Soul late last year.
“As an actor, you spend a lot of time sitting in dressing rooms, and I started writing again, and it snowballed,” he says, explaining this newly fanned flame.
“It was Number One in the country music genre. People said ‘Oh, he’s jumping on the bandwagon, but there is no bandwagon here.
“Even when I was in EastEnders I’d always do gigs with my band; pubs, clubs and festivals.”
Although you’ll see him at play in the current series of Benidorm, Shane is currently occupying himself with scripts, voiceovers and Radio 2 work.
But looking towards the end of the year, Shane is looking forward to being back in the new city.
“Panto enables you to have two hours of escapism,” he says, while acknowledging that “Robin Hood is not really a big panto subject.”
We are in for a real treat though, he assures, while talking us through some of the wonderful possibilities that might make it to stage this Christmas. Beware the dinosaur!
“There are special effects that would give Disney a run for their money,” promises.
Robin Hood shows at Milton Keynes Theatre from Saturday, December 8, 2018 to Sunday, January 13, 2019.
Tickets are on sale now. To book, visit www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes