Poole and Bournemouth may be the closest of neighbours, but they are very different towns - something Chris Jarvis, who is co-writing, directing and starring in Dick Whittington at Lighthouse this Christmas, knows all about.

For Chris lived in Bournemouth for many years and starred in eight pantomimes at the Pavilion. It's an association he continues to treasure.

"I actually checked with my friends in Bournemouth that there wouldn't be any unease about me playing in panto at Poole and of course there isn't," he says. "What's clear to me though is that Poole and Bournemouth are very different beasts - they're both pantos but they're totally different audiences so there's no rivalry, everyone's talking and it's all good."

Chris is writing a new script for Dick Whittington with Peter Duncan, who, with his production partner Darren Reeves, has co-produced panto here at Lighthouse since 2016.

"I've written panto scripts for years, but working with Peter and Darren as well as Elspeth, the Chief Executive at Lighthouse, is like having a team of writers with everyone going in the same direction."

Earlier this year Chris presented the Bournemouth & Poole Tourism Awards at Lighthouse and as Patron of Wessex Youth Orchestra is very familiar with the venue - far more so than when he first performed here in the first few days of 2005, starring in Pantomime Relief to raise money for the Red Cross Tsunami Earthquake Appeal with stars of Beauty & the Beast (Poole), Jack & the Beanstalk (Bournemouth) and Peter Pan (Southampton Mayflower).

"That was Brian Cant's idea," says Chris. "He was in Beauty & the Beast and came up with this idea of a variety revue to raise money for the appeal and we arranged a 10.30 show. The toruble was we had this Chinese Whispers situation and nobody fixed whether it was 10.30am or 10.30pm before it went on sale so the only solution was to do two shows that day - one in the morning and one late at night - as well as our usual two panto performances. It was exhausting but such good fun and we raised £25,000. I have very fond memories of that."

Dick Whittington opens at Lighthouse on 7 December and runs until New Year's Eve.

Published 25 July 2018