Johnny Mac reveals he split his trousers during each of his last two panto stints at the King’s.

Is this a proud boast, you wonder?

What could possibly be causing the trouser malfunction?

“It’s down to over-exertion,” he says, smiling.

That is entirely believable. Johnny Mac works the panto stage the way a conscientious cleaner tackles a tiled hallway.

He mops up every opportunity for a laugh. His physical comedy knows no limits.

“I’d be lost without it,” he says of panto.

“It’s the anchor to my whole year. I love the fact kids and grannies love it.”

Why panto in particular? Is it a refusal of the 40 year-old to grow up?

“A psychologist might say that,” he grins.

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“I always used to go to pantos when I was a kid, so I connect panto with being young and happy.

“It allows you to be that cheeky boy who’s just a little bit badly behaved.

“And it means for seven or eight weeks I get to be silly and forget about the world.”

Johnny adds; “And I love the art form. I love the variety aspect of it, with West End show sensibilities.

There is no time limit to playing in panto. “That’s right,” he agrees.

“The dream is to follow in the footsteps of greats such Gerard Kelly, The Krankies and Brian Conley and have that sort of career.”

This year Johnny is starring in Jack and the Beanstalk alongside Elaine C. Smith.

“I’ve managed to establish a great working relationship with Elaine. We seem to have a great shorthand in the way we work.”

Johnny admits he was initially nervous of working with Elaine, given her status and experience.

“Oh, yeh. How could you not be? And it can be really strange when you go to the first script read-through and you feel really vulnerable.

“To make it more awkward, my panto characters are always full of life and for me even to sit on a seat and read the lines is very difficult.

“But right from that first day she made me feel at ease. Elaine was laughing her head off and it made me feel so relaxed."

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He adds; “But what’s also amazing about Elaine is I’ve never had someone of that top of the bill stature be so generous.

“During rehearsals she will surrender the funny lines, giving them over to me. ‘You should say that, Johnny. It will be funnier coming from you.’

“That is almost unheard of in theatre.

“It makes you want to work harder for her. It makes you want to share more.”

Johnny Mac didn’t simply arrive at the King’s Theatre panto stage.

He’s a throwback to the glory days of variety. John MacDonald was the class clown at school in Kilmarnock who was packed off to youth theatre by his parents.

Aged 16 he left school and became a holiday camp Red Coat.

Johnny went on to work in variety summer seasons in the likes of Bournemouth and Great Yarmouth and has worked as an impressionist and comedian on the cruise ships.

Indeed, Johnny met his wife, Steph while working starring as Peter Pan in panto. The pair have been married two years.

“Usually we work together,” he offers, “but Steph has been working at the Pavilion and is now planning to set up her own dance school.”

Are they planning to have children?

“Well, we got a dog last year and I think that’s a test,” he grins.

“My wife has been watching to see if I remember to feed an walk it.”

“But it would be great to think that one day I’d have kids and they could see me in panto. But I’m sure after a few years they’d be saying ‘Dad, you’re just so embarrassing.’”

Johnny has also developed a Frankie and Josie double act with Liam Dolan, which consistently sells out.

“I was just 17 at the time when we wrote to Rikki Fulton and he gave us permission to perform as Francie and Josie, on the basis we stick to the original material.

“Now, we’re talking about taking out a Francie and Josie sketch show early next year.”

Meantime, he’s excited about this year’s panto, Jack and the Beanstalk.

“There’s lots off physical stuff and business with the cow,” he says, smiling.

“I love the slapstick and the great wordplay routines for the adults.”

He adds, smiling; “But this year my big plan is not to rip my trousers.”

Jack and the Beanstalk, also stars Jonathan Watson, The King’s Theatre, November 30 – January 5.