WITH 15 years of panto experience under his belt, actor Shaun Williamson should be more than qualified to take on a starring role in the Christmas spectacular Elf.

He not only has a CV of experience proving he can handle a festive audience, but the desire to play a part made famous by a Hollywood veteran in the 2003 film.

“I just wanted to play the same part as James Caan,” Shaun beamed.

He added: “If you told me years ago when he was in Godfather that I was playing a James Caan part, I would have dropped my tin of Strongbow you know.”

That part is the role of grumpy Walter Hobbs who puts work before everything - even Christmas. That is until he meets his son Buddy The Elf, played by Tam Ryan, who manages to test his dad with an abundance of Christmas spirit.  “It is a story like A Christmas Carol. Walter Hobbs - my character - is a bit ‘Scroogey’.

“He is miserable, he is a workaholic and he always works through Christmas. He never takes the time off.

“But what would you do if a six-foot elf turned out to be your boy?

“He is not a nasty man at all, he is just got his priorities wrong,” Shaun explained. 

Evening Times:

Shaun in Eastenders

With his natural charisma, it shouldn’t take 54-year-old Shaun long to win over the Hydro audience with this character. He is already considered a screen favourite through playing hapless Barry Evans in Eastenders and an outrageous version of himself on Extras, roles which he still treasures to this day.

He said: “I have gone through that stage of resenting it and now I am going back to being grateful.

“I don’t think I realised what I had when I was in it. I don’t think you do sometimes until it is over.

“I was lucky Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant gave me a lot of work.  I am getting a lot of work now because a lot of people love the work of Ricky and Stephen. Now, all that generation of young directors and writers who were at university when that show was on are out, I get a lot of work from them. I owe them a lot.”

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Shaun will join fellow soap veteran Kym Marsh, who played Michelle Connor in Coronation Street, on the stage show which comes to the Hydro on Saturday, December 14 for two days - and it is not the first time the pair have worked together. 

“My second job after leaving Eastenders was on Saturday Night Fever in the West End in London.

“Kym had just left Hearsay and she joined the cast so we did all the publicity together so we worked on that.

“It was my second stage show, it was her first. Then she got gobbled up by Coronation Street and I went on to do another 32 stage shows and now she is coming out.

“So I was with her in her first show and now I am with her on her second theatre show after all these years, 15 years later.”

Shaun also can’t wait to return to Glasgow with this festive arena show - for he is a fan of the city and regularly hangs out in the West End. 

He said: “I have never had a bad time in Glasgow. I have been coming to the city for years and you notice the change in the last 15 years.

“The energy and the eating places and bars, it really just buzzes. I just love it.

“I usually stay out in the West End, near the Botanics Gardens, with a family I know. I go out at night and sample the delights of Glasgow.”

Shaun will tour the UK with this production with shows in London, Liverpool, and Dublin giving him more free time than he has been used to during the festive period when he is usually in the midst of a busy panto schedule. 

“What happens on Boxing Day? I ain’t got a clue,” he joked.

He added: “This will be the first time I won’t have to drive to a theatre on Boxing Day for 15 years. I don’t know what I am going to do with myself.”

Perhaps the free time will give Shaun a chance to find a more dramatic role, which is something he desperate to do. 

With a new BBC sitcom called Winner completed and due to air in the near future, Shaun admits he wants a role he can really sink his teeth into. 

He said: “I don’t think I am people’s first choice when you are looking at casting things like Sherlock or Doctor Who.

“I think I brought that upon myself by doing too much comedy and reality tv.

“I would love a nice big dramatic role even if it is baddy, I don’t care.

“If you play an evil enough character then Barry will disappear overnight.

“It’s someone having the courage to cast you.”

Elf - A Christmas Spectacular runs at the Hydro December 14 to 15.

For tickets, visit http://www.buddytheelf.co.uk​