EastEnder Larry Lamb is the ultimate baddie for St Albans panto

A VILLAINOUS EastEnder has picked the equally evil role of Captain Hook for his St Albans debut this Christmas.

Larry Lamb, who played Archie Mitchell in EastEnders, is set to star in his first ever pantomime, Peter Pan, at the Alban Arena and said that he was looking forward to exercising his evil skills for the role.

He said: “There’s no such thing as a nice Captain Hook – he’s the ultimate baddie, and I look forward to doing him justice. It’s a classic panto and my kids have always been desperate for me to do one.”

He added: “With pantomimes, you have to be known to be asked. It’s thanks to shows like EastEnders and Gavin and Stacey that I was approached for Peter Pan, and I wasn’t going to say no. I think it’s a great honour to be part of a panto and any actor will tell you it looks good on the CV!”

Larry, whose character Archie was voted Villain of the Year at this year’s British Soap Awards, lives a short train journey away in North London and said that he remembered St Albans from his youth: “I used to come to St Albans on the number 84 bus from my home in Edmonton to go and see Roman Verulamium. It’s a pretty city and because I live so close, it will be easy for me to get to Alban Arena rehearsals come Christmas time.”

Larry and his fellow cast members, including 23-year-old CBeebies presenter Katy Ashworth who plays Peter Pan, already have the panto script and, come November, they will have only two weeks to perfect the show which will start on December 10 and run until January 2, 2011.

Larry, who said that his young daughters would want a seat at every show, said that he grew up wanting to be a dentist, doctor or businessman, but fell into professional acting aged 27: “It all kicked off with theatre and I gradually got into TV from there. If you’re a big bloke and working class, that tends to push you towards a particular character, but I have been lucky in the range of roles I’ve played. EastEnders was an unforgettable experience and I have such fond memories of it.”

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Katy, who is also a skilled singer and musician, said that she was looking forward to working with Larry: “We’ve only briefly met, but I know we’ll get on great – despite the fact that he’s Captain Hook to my Peter Pan! To be honest, I was surprised to be approached for the role, but it couldn’t be more perfect: Peter Pan is my ultimate favourite character in a pantomime role.”

She added: “I truly believe that we can all be Peter Pan. I still play and be silly all the time, and I’m 23! When you’re in the real world, you have to pretend to be an adult – but Peter Pan would never do that. When I told my friends that I was playing Peter Pan, they couldn’t believe I’d landed the ideal role!

“It’s going to be really wonderful to be on a stage again, where I can bound about and release all that energy. Peter Pan is such a free character – like me! – and I can’t wait to get stuck into the role.”

Peter Pan promises dazzling sets and costumes, musical numbers and fun-packed family comedy. Tickets start at �15 and for more information visit www.alban-arena.co.uk