The bundle of fun actor who puts the magic into Harrogate's panto at Christmas time

For one of Harrogate Theatre’s most popular acting legends, Christmas doesn’t come once just a year, it comes 53 times.

Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 9:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 9:05 pm
Tim Stedman provides many of the laughs at the Harrogate pantomime... and has done for the last 20 years.

That’s the number of days Tim Stedman appears each year in the town’s hugely popular panto which this year sees the bundle of energy star in Snow White.

If the audiences look on the panto as an essential part of what the festive season is, then so does its longest-running cast member and legendary silly-billy who has audiences in stitches year after year.

Tim Stedman is marking his 20th year in panto at Harrogate Theatre.

For this effervescent maestro of slapstick humour and crowd interaction, Christmas isn’t Christmas without it.

Tim said: “It’s always lovely to be back at Harrogate Theatre. If you work away from home at Christmas, there isn’t anywhere more friendly or picturesque than Harrogate.

“I love doing the Harrogate panto. It is Christmas!”

Audiences in the tens of thousands travel from all across North Yorkshire to enjoy the panto which has seen Tim appear at Harrogate Theatre every year since 2000.

The rapport with the public is part of the reason that Tim, who trained originally at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, keeps coming back to Harrogate.

Ball of energy Tim said: “Harrogate audiences really appreciate and enjoy sharing in the creative and exciting telling of a traditional fairytale.People recognise you in the street sometimes and come up and say hello.”

Christmas Day itself saw Tim, a versatile actor who has appeared in Emmerdale, The Bill and, once, The Basil Brush Show (boom boom!), have that rarest of things during Harrogate panto’s run - a day off.

He travels back to Newbury in Berkshire to be with his family or, as he says, “three very small hugely excited daughters and one exhausted, wonderfully understanding wife.”

But Tim can never take off the red paint and colourful costumes for very long at this time of the year. By 2pm on Boxing Day, he is back on stage to wow the audiences.

With two shows a day, at times, playing such a crucial role is demanding.

Panto is an ensemble production and Harrogate Theatre’s annual show is a true team effort from writers Phil Lowe and David Bown to popular dame Howard Chadwick and the talented set designers and choreographers.

Still, always being the silly-billy and acting as the comic glue for the whole two-hour production is challenging.

As the years go by, Tim keeps himself fit at all times for the role determined to never let audiences down and help maintain the show’s high standards.

Tim said: “It is a great show to do but people are so proud here of their local theatre and the building itself is wonderful.

“It’s just wonderful when they tell you how much they enjoyed the show.”

Praised once by Sir Ian McKellan for rejecting celebrity stars and ‘adult’ humour, Harrogate panto is in a class of its own.

Tim said: “A pantomime should be a fun and magical, family celebration for all. Our panto tries to appeal and entertain everybody.

“Because of the success of the panto, Harrogate Theatre is part of so many special Christmas memories from the youngest grandchildren to the oldest grandparents.”

As for how long those ageing funny bones can keep on leaping round the stage to great acclaim, well, don’t expect Tim to retirwe any time soon.

When asked how long he’d like to carry on, Tim replied simply... “I’m not even halfway yet!”