David Tennant appeared on Absolute Radio this morning in a Zombie Panto Battle Royale with Eastenders star Shane Richie.
The actors were appearing in Absolute Radio’s annual celebrity panto, which this year veered sharply away from the traditional and into the realms of horror with the ominously titled Zombie Claus. David took the role of Santa / Zombie Claus while Shane played Buttons.” I’m always Buttons” he admitted – in fact he’s currently playing Buttons in Cinderella at the Wycombe Swan!
David, of course, had been on stage the previous night at the Barbican in Richard II for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and took to the basement stage at the Soho Theatre sporting the infamous plaited ponytail that has been grabbing so much attention over the last few weeks.
“I’ve had the hair for three months now, it’s a very particular interpretation of a mullet and the colour is chestnut with flecks of red too,” David said. “Some of it’s natural but quite a lot of it is extensions right down my back so as you can imagine maintenance is quite heavy so I can’t throw it around too much. I have to massage it a lot but most of the time I make such a mess of it and luckily there are people at the Royal Shakespeare Company who kindly wash my hair for me.”
Joining David and Shane were Breakfast Show host Christian O’Connell with Richie Firth as the Christmas-saving Elves, along with Andrew Bailey as the Narrator and Zombie Gingerbread Man and Maggie Doyle and assorted listeners as the zombie horde. Other listeners helped with the set, costumes and special effects make-up to ensure the final Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show of 2013 went out with a bang.
The panto was set in the North Pole where Santa Claus contracted a zombie virus after opening the door to an infected fridge, and went on the rampage eating everyone in his path – only Buttons and the elves were able to stop him by finding a cure just in time to save Christmas and turn Zombie Claus back into a human.
There was much luvvie mock rivalry between David and Shane as they made fun of David’s RSC career and Shane’s stint as Alfie Moon in Eastenders and compared awards success. Ex-Doctor Who star David, who recently returned to the role of the Tenth Doctor for the 50th anniversary was asked if he would be in the Christmas Special. "No, it's all about Matt... the young, good-looking one that everyone likes," he joked. Later on, Christian asked the audience if they thought that David was the best Doctor and, when they chorused that he was, refuted them in true panto style: “Oh no he isn’t!” David immediately disagreed: "I bloody am!"
The production was the usual riotous mess of fun, laughs and ad-libs that we have come to expect from the Absolute Radio Panto. There was plenty of audience participation, including the final song, and it was the perfect lead into Christmas, both for the 150-strong crowd in the theatre and the listeners tuning in from around the world.
Speaking afterwards about his role as Zombie Claus David Tennant, a veteran now of several Absolute pantos, said "I can’t believe it's been a year since the last one. We took it to the next level at the Soho Theatre. It was such great fun and to have Shane Richie there as well was fantastic. Merry Christmas and see you in 2014”
Award-winning Absolute Radio Breakfast Show presenter Christian O’Connell said, “The panto was great fun but David Tennant was actually pretty scary as Zombie Claus. I think he discovered a darker side to his personality through this role...in fact, watch out, he’s behind you...”
The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show “Zombie Claus” is available for viewing at www.youtube.com/absoluteradio
Listeners can hear the Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show every weekday morning from 6:00am until 10:00am on 105.8FM in
London and the South-East, nationally on DAB
or 1215AM as well as mobile apps and digital TV.
Photos with kind permission of Matt Kent / Absolute Radio