NIGEL THORNTON: Peterborough’s a pantomime

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
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Phew, I’m glad the casting for this year’s Peterborough Telegraph pantomime is behind me (oh yes it is).

Bill Kenwright has refused to produce it, Michael Cross won’t direct it, and Luke ‘one Musketeer’ Pasqualino won’t return my calls, but apart from that it’s all going well.

There’s been fierce competition for parts in this year’s production of Cinderella not least to be the baddie, the Wicked Stepmother.

It wasn’t as easy to cast after the election defeat of Marco Cereste who had made the role his own in the past few years. But there were plenty of other wannabes – the bosses at Fairline Boats and Voyager Academy, whoever ordered the Cathedral Square Christmas tree, anybody who rides a bike up Bridge Street, oh yes, and those scrotes who stole dear old Warwick Davis’s caravan.

Finally, I decided this Marco-sized hole could only be filled by The Apprentice hopeful and Peterborough plumber Joseph Valente.

After all you can’t do well on that show unless you’re a pantomime villain. Joseph, you’re hired, I told him, slightly childishly.

Next up was Baron Hardup. Newly appointed Cambridgeshire chief constable Alec Wood had a strong case but in the end the role had to go to city council leader John Holdich on account of him having the biggest one – budget cut that is.

Next it was the Ugly Sisters. Gillian ‘Two Jobs’ Beasley did a great audition and as chief executive of Peterborough and now Cambridgeshire councils she could fill both parts and, in these times of austerity, save us some dosh.

It was a close call but in the end she lost out to the city’s two MPs Stewart Jackson and Shailesh Vara who were chosen because, er, they’re MPs and therefore we just like to boo them.

There were lots of Prince Charming hopefuls not least Posh owner Darragh MacAnthony, but he was ruled out because Barry Fry was negotiating his fee (it was too high!). I had to find a role for Darragh and seeing as how he’s making so many Posh fans’ wishes come true he was nailed on to be Fairy Godmother. I didn’t want to offend the London Road faithful so I amended the script to give him the part of Hairy Godfather.

My prince had to be former boyband heart-throb and Jack Hunt schoolboy Aston Merrygold after it was pointed out if his solo career didn’t take off soon he’d be in panto permanently (or Celebrity Big Brother).

Casting his bessie mate Dandini was easy. Aston’s real life pal and gymnast supreme Louis Smith got the gig after pitching a package deal with his lady friend Lucy Meck of Towie fame who’s going to be a very ‘reem’ Buttons.

That just left Cinderella to cast and after much consideration I went for glamour girl Nicola McLean, wife of former Posh star Tom Williams. Why Nicola? Well, there are two reasons... one she lives locally (well she did) and two I’m sure I saw her in the Argo Lounge last week.

You thought I had two other reasons (oh yes you did!).

JC has risen

Labour romped home in the Oldham by election despite, or maybe because of the Corbyn factor. By elections are of course notoriously fickle beasts, but I think it proves one thing – Brits don’t like to be told what to think or how to vote.

Expert advice

Twitter is a miserable (if addictive) place a bit like an opium den for the mind. But every now and then between the bile and the banal is a gem.

One popped up in my feed the other day courtesy of a retweet from Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson. It read: Has anyone tried turning the Labour Party off and back on again?

That’s rich

The richest 20 Americans, with a combined net worth of $732billion, are as wealthy as half of the US population put together – that’s 152 million people, according to a new study. I did some (very) rough calculations and based on stats I found there are 74,000 households in Peterborough with an average wealth (including the value of their home and pension) of £200,000.

This means those 20 Yanks are 33 times wealthier than every man, woman and child in the Greater Peterborough area put together.

Defective idea

Hard-up Cambridgeshire police have placed job adverts for volunteers to wash their cars (Vehicle Tasking Volunteer) and to trace stolen goods (Property Recovery Volunteer).

Comfortingly, our soon-to-be ex-Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Graham Bright said: “I would not support the use of volunteer detectives.’’

What a spoilsport. I suppose I’ll just have to try to get a refund on that giant magnifying glass and cape.

Out of site

How wonderful of those nice Peterborough City Councillors to ask us residents for suggestions where we would like 53 traveller pitches in the city. Here’s mine: Not In My Back Yard. I wonder if our councillors will make the decision on where the sites will be before next year’s elections?

Diary Of A Bad Dad

She can talk for England and although most of it is gibberish often she makes me laugh out loud. I could be (but I’m not) talking about Mrs T.

Toddler T has developed into a right little chatterbox and on Saturday when we went to pick a Christmas tree she didn’t stop for breath.

At one point she gave me an update on her health. “My cough is gone,’’ she informed me. I managed to get a word in edgeways. “That’s good news,’’ I said reasonably enough.

“That’s not news,’’ she replied huffily. Why not? I asked. “Because it’s not been in the newspaper,’’ she answered. I couldn’t fault her logic, but I didn’t like her attitude when she added in a tone Hugh Grant might approve of: “You’re a newsman, you should know.’’

I forgave her though as we went about selecting our Christmas tree. She was very excited but disaster struck when she pricked her finger on a pine needle.

“I don’t want a Christmas tree, it hurt me,’’ she pouted.

Generally, her excitement levels about all things Christmas are, on a scale of 1-10, about 83. In the past few weeks she’s seen Santa more times than Peppa Pig.

The white bearded one was, I’m told, on particularly fine form at Sacrewell Farm last Sunday.