Brian Beacom

JANE McCarry loves the sound of children crying.

In fact, the Still Game star says if they’re so terrified little pants become wet, then so much the better.

“I love it when at least half a dozen children are crying and at least three wet their pants,” she says, smiling.

“When that happens I feels as if I’ve done my job.”

Jane’s job at the moment is panto star, playing The Wicked Queen in Snow White in Greenock.

Still Game’s Isa is playing alongside sitcom star and close pal Mark Cox who features as the Lord of Bogstone in the Beacon Theatre panto.

However, Jane smiles as she admits it’s hard to keep a sour face on the Wicked Queen when her stage partner is the one being truly wicked.

“We have great fun, carrying on during rehearsals,” says Jane.

“We know each other well, and we host events together, so it’s reached the point we can finish each other’s sentences.

“But as the baddie, you can’t laugh. And it’s not that Mark is always trying hard to make me laugh, although at times he does, when he goes off script he just does.”

Jane adds, grinning; “Mark rarely says what is in the script and because we have quite a few scenes together my heart does sink at the prospect.

“Every time I walk on I wonder ‘What is he going to say?’ But the thing is he will improvise with lines that are really funny.”

Mark Cox, who plays Tam in Still Game (a new series will be screen in the New Year) loves working with Jane.

“When you’re working with one of your best pals and doing a job you love you feel blessed,” he offers.

But does he see making Jane laugh on stage as a personal challenge?

He laughs, a clear admission that is a central motivation he suffers from when up on stage.

“Once, during a performance in Kilmarnock she to stop and apologise to an audience for tears of laughter running down her face,” he says, the pride in his voice audible.

Job done.

Jane McCarry is playing a baddie for a third time. “I’ve played the Fairy Godmother around twenty times,” she offers. “But when you play her your face actually hurts from smiling.

“I’m more comfortable playing the baddie.”

What does she do to harness her inner Wicked Queen?

“Well, remember I used to teach. I’ve worked in schools all over Glasgow, in behaviour support when I was known as Mrs Gibson.”

She laughs; “When I was being Mrs Gibson I could be a complete cow, and I just imagine myself as being her.”

Mark’s panto character is the sidekick to the baddie.

“There is dark and light in him,” he says. “That’s good fun to pay and you get to judge the audience reaction to the switch.

“What happens in the script is his character falls in love with Matty, Snow White’s nurse, played by Jimmy Chisholm.”

Mark adds, laughing; “In real life the only way you’d fall in love with Jimmy is if you were stuck together in a Vietnamese prison and there was no other choice.

“But no, it’s great to work with Jimmy. He really knows what panto is all about.”

Mark, who has been writing pantos over the years and has been performing in Musselburgh, loves panto, with all the challenges it brings.

“There was one time I had to go on with the flu and I was hallucinating. That wasn’t one of my best moments.”

And there were the times when playing at the Pavilion in Glasgow Jane would bring her baby son into Mark’s (larger) dressing room to change his nappy.

However, Jane has a delightful panto memory, one that reminds of the wonderful impact fairy stories can have on kids.

“When I was at the King’s, my son was four at the time on December 29, and he came backstage after the matinee with his wee pals.

“And he saw my fairy dust and asked what it was for. I told him it was for granting wishes and if he put some on his hand and made a wish it would come true.

“But I added he couldn’t tell anyone about his wish.”

Shortly afterwards, Jane took her little boy to a restaurant.

“When we came out it was snowing, even though it hadn’t been particularly cold, and he started to cry, tears of absolute joy.

“I said what’s happened. He said ‘I made a wish that it would snow. And it has! The fairy dust is real!

“And he believed. Even though he knew it was me playing the Fairy Queen. It was incredible.”

• Snow White, until December 31, the Beacon Theatre, Greenock.