His Baywatch beaches are far removed from Nottingham but David Hasselhoff adapts seamlessly in Peter Pan, this year’s Theatre Royal pantomime.
But then Hasselhoff, best known for his iconic TV roles as Michael Knight in Knight Rider and Baywatch’s Mitch Buchanan, has had plenty of practice for his role as the show’s baddie Captain Hoff the Hook, reprising his role in this, his fourth panto.
He has hard acts to follow in the city – Bradley Walsh, Brian Conley, Claire Sweeney and Joe Pasquale have set the bar during past Yuletides - but given American unfamiliarity with such roles, Hasselhoff triumphs. He dominates the stage and has a good singing voice, notably in This Is My Moment and when leading a rock finale.
The TV shows are in the past now and, despite all the repeats, younger members of the audience may seek words of explanation. Ditto Nottingham’s own Su Pollard from the 1980s sitcom Hi-de-Hi, but with more than 30 pantos behind her – albeit only one at the Theatre Royal – she is well versed in entertaining the youngsters.
More familiar to this age group is children’s television star Barney Harwood, with a boy band background and a host of successful shows, including Blue Peter.
It’s an interesting mix and the blend is strong and perfect – Hasselhoff’s villain, Pollard as Mimi the Mermaid, Harwood as Peter and Ben Nickless, who strikes an instant rapport as Smee, Hook’s henchman and the leader of a motley crew of pirates.
They are supported by Isobel Hathaway (Tinkerbell), Hannah Nicholas (Wendy) and Billie Kay (Tiger Lily), with the Darling children and Lost Boys provided by the Michael Jones School of Dance in Beeston and from an open audition at the theatre.
But the real treasure chest of any panto is the scenery with its special effects and this is quite superb. After an invitation to take the second star to the right and carry straight on ‘til morning, this show really does become an awfully big adventure and a real treat for all the family.
Peter Pan runs until Sunday January 12.