Interview: panto director Jonathan Kiley on working with John Barrowman and the Krankies

Interview: panto director Jonathan Kiley on working with John Barrowman and the Krankies

Kiley is directing the trio in the large scale performance of Dick McWhittington

Jonathan Kiley is one very brave man. He is directing John Barrowman and the Krankies in a pantomime. Barrowman, who despite his muscles is camper than a donkey’s sunhat, is the man who challenged Simon Amstell to a ‘gay off’ on Never Mind the Buzzcocks. He is incapable of hearing an entendre without doubling it. His co-stars are the Krankies, a pair of pensioners who are married to each other yet perform as a schoolboy (Jimmy Krankie) and his father (Ian Krankie). Even the pantomime’s name is begging for a cheeky gag.

From these ingredients of kitsch and smut – plus an orchestra, ten dancers, a flying trapeze, a 3D sequence and plenty of One Direction songs – Kiley must craft a show that children will adore. It must also have adults raising their eyebrows and sniggering, while surpassing last year’s extravaganza, and the one before. Planning the season’s 35 performances takes him all year. He is already batting around ideas for 2014. ‘Of course there will be double entendres, in the style of Carry On movies – that’s the nature of pantomime,’ he admits. ‘Some of the jokes will go over children’s heads and some won’t.’

‘There can’t be anything rude or salacious,’ he insists. (Good luck with that.) Dick and pussy gags (young master Whittington, you will remember, is accompanied by a feline chum) are verboten. ‘We have to be very disciplined,’ says Kiley firmly. ‘I am the family-friendly police.' Parents of sharp-eared older children should, however, expect some searching questions in the car home.

SECC, Glasgow Sat 14 Dec–Sun 5 Jan.

Dick McWhittington

The SECC's annual big scale pantomime complete with 3D effects, John Barrowman and The Krankies.

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