Meet Gok and Brian - stars of Milton Keynes Theatre pantomime Cinderella
It is Sunday morning at Chicheley Hall, and the usually tranquil surroundings are being punctured by hearty laughter.
The stars of Milton Keynes Theatre’s seasonal show have come together for the press launch. And if the giggles are the sound of things to come, then Cinderella will be the best, and funniest pantomime so far.
Stars of the show, Brian Conley and Gok Wan were both working until the early hours, the former on Strictly Come Dancing, and the latter playing a date in Scotland, Yet they are both surprisingly bubbly.
“I love Brian, I really do love him, he is incredible,” Gok tells me during a quiet moment away from the cameras.
“Every single year I say, that’s it, I’m not doing another panto! I’m going to have Christmas at home and I am going to relax.
“Then Brian calls me up...”
But Gok doesn’t need too much persuasion to reach for the magic wand again.
“I really do look forward to it,” he says.
“It is six weeks of debauched fun. It doesn’t feel like a job in the slightest.
“Brian and I have this brilliant dynamic. I am really bossy, he is really naughty and we laugh and laugh.
“When you put that with a great script, a great storyline, an incredible set, amazing lights and music, and brilliant performers, you get this little bit of electricity. “I think Simon Cowell has been looking for that for years!”
Executive producer Michael Harrison is the man responsible for the clever pairing of Brian and Gok. Having worked with them separately, he had a lightbulb moment a few years ago.
“I had the best time with both of them and thought, ‘I wonder what it would be like if we put both of them together?’
“They are incredibly different – Gok is a tremendous personality, both onstage and offstage. Brian is the governor, the master. There is not an audience he hasn’t played to.”
The pairing worked so well, that this 2017 season will be their third year together.
“I’m delighted to be here, and I know we have a cracking show,” Brian declares. “I love it, and panto plays to all my strengths. Obviously you’ve got your acting and your comedy, but I’ll be doing a bit more dancing this year, because I do know how to foxtrot and cha-cha now.”