Linda finds being the Wicked Queen great fun

IT’S difficult to think of Linda Nolan as the Wicked Queen - though she insists that her nephews and nieces will tell you otherwise.

Either way, she’s delighted to be in Worthing this Christmas for her 16th panto, no small achievement when you throw in all the years she was busy being Mrs Johnston.

“I had to stop doing pantos when I was doing Blood Brothers which I did for eight years. I started in 2000 and then was in the West End for two years and then was out touring with the show. And then I stopped in 2007 when my husband passed away.

“I haven’t really done anything since then except we all got back together (as The Nolans) for a tour last year. This is my way back in.

“I have only played the Wicked Queen once before. I suppose I will eventually get to the age where I will be pulling the coach! But I played the Wicked Queen in 2005, and it was great fun! I got some weird enjoyment out of making small children cry! I’m only joking - but it was great fun to play.”

Linda knows from experience that you’ve got to play if for real. OK, she knows she is not really a wicked witch and she can’t actually cast spells, but the point is that a good proportion of the audience need to believe in what they are seeing.

It’s acting - though certainly not as demanding as all those years in the powerful, emotionally-charged Blood Brothers, a musical the Nolans had a hold on. Not just Linda, but her sisters Maureen, Bernie and Denise all played Mrs Johnston too - a feat which has secured their place in the Guinness Book Of Records.

“I think it is the best leading lady role in West End musicals. I look back on it with great fondness. I did it an awful lot. I love panto, but I consider Blood Brothers real acting. And I like to think that we each brought something different to the role.

“When Brian died, I tried to go back, but it was just too hard to do it without him. I would love to go back one day and finish it on a happier note, but the opening line of the show is ‘Once I had a husband…’ It was too hard.

“And Tell Me It’s Not True is just heart-breaking. Also touring is just really really hard without Brian. We were together 24/7. We were married all those years. Touring on my own without him would give me too much time to think.

“But when I got the call about the four of us working together again and touring (as The Nolans, last year), it was just amazing. It was unbelievable.

“We were doing big arenas. It went from 16 gigs to 22, and the media were amazing. We felt the pressure in respect of the fact that everybody was so excited about it. We were just thrilled and overwhelmed by the response. It was great.”

And who know, they might just do it again next year…

Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs is at Worthing’s Connaught Theatre from Friday, December 3 until Friday, December 31. Tickets on 01903 206 206 or online at www.worthingtheatres.co.uk.