Funny man Pete Firman abracadabras his way into the magic of Wimbledon panto

Magician and stand-up comedian Pete Firman is bringing magic back to pantomime this Christmas, hoping he doesn’t mess it up for his fellow performers or else he might be find himself in a spell of trouble.

Having breezed through stand-up tours and TV shows, Pete, 38, is turning to the theatre for a second year of spellar performances and panto fun.

The magician is set to play Wishee Washee in New Wimbledon Theatre’s production of Aladdin alongside Have I Got News For You’s Paul Merton and Blue’s Lee Ryan this Christmas.

He said: “If I cock up during my show it’s just me and I feel daft, but I don’t want to disappoint Paul or Lee or any of the other guys.

“There’s more pressure doing the pantomime actually, when I’m doing my own show there’s only me to blame. That’s the difference.”

Best known starring in 2012 show The Magicians, as well as presenting CBBC’s Stake Out and Wait for It..!, the funny man and magic enthusiast awkwardly stumbled into what would become his career, and he couldn’t exactly tell you where he’s headed.

He said: “I did a theatre degree and then I sort of fell into doing stand-up with magic just sort of by accident. I don’t have a plan, I just go with the flow.”

And if the panto doesn’t quite go to plan, the spellbinding performer is confident he’s got a cheeky back-up plan.

He said: “So as long as the phone keeps ringing I’ll be alright, and when the phone stops ringing that’s when I’m going to panic. And then I’ll work at Nando’s.”

His trademark is a blend of stand-up and magic, which he’s currently performing on his Marvel tour.

He said: “A set-up to a joke leads you to believe one thing and then the punchline is a surprise and you laugh. A magic trick’s the same, you think it’s going to go one way and then it goes another way.”

His role in Aladdin won’t let those skills go to waste as he plans to perform parts of his magic act as part of the play.

After touring as a comedian and magician, Pete starred in his first pantomime, Snow White, last year, and was keen to do another one.

Pantomimes hold a special place for him, as he grew up watching them in his home town of Middlesbrough.

“The Gladiators were in pantomime, and Little and Large, and the Chuckle Brothers, and the Krankies and all those sorts of people.

“I have really fond memories of going as a family. It does stay with you as a kid, it’s special to be a part of it.

“When you’re up there and you’re staring out at the audience, the little kids are transfixed, their eyes are wide and they’re in that world for two hours. So it’s lovely to experience that.”

Pete hopes to use his improv skills on stage too. He said: “I do a lot of chat with the audience so it’s quite nice to have that unpredictability, you can improvise a little bit and go off script and have some fun.”

But the performer isn’t a stranger to an on-stage blunder or two, and cruelly loves to watch his co-stars squirm in the aftermath of a mistake.

“Because you’re doing so many shows you get kind of complacent or a bit sloppy and forget where you are and I’m very guilty of this, if I see someone make a mistake I’ll draw their attention to it.

“A kinder person would try to cover it up while I make them realise they’ve made a mistake and I try and see how they’re going to get out.

“Just to keep it fun you try and make each other laugh onstage, to keep each other amused.”

Aladdin will run at the New Wimbledon Theatre from 8 December 2018 to 6 January 2019. Tickets can be bought here.

Feature image credit: Craig Sugden.

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