5 minutes with: Lee Mead - 'My fans send me cake'
The musical theatre star on his role in the West End's first pantomime in nearly 30 years, his turn in Casualty, Any Dream Will Do and his massive fanbase
Our Cinderella director Michael Harrison wanted to lock the whole show down within the first few days. So we blocked the whole thing and then had three or four weeks to polish the numbers and keep running the scenes. It's a really nice way of working. I've done a lot of musicals when they don't block the second act until week three, or the last week.
The London Palladium is steeped in history. With figures from Frank Sinatra to Judi Garland and Norman Wisdom all appearing there, so it's a real honour to be part of the show. It's the first panto in the West End in 30 years and you can't get a more prestigious or bigger theatre. I am pinching myself everyday.
Julian Clary is the king of innuendo. I've done panto with him three times before and he's so funny. This is the first time I've met Paul O'Grady, though I've seen him on the telly for years. His evil Baroness is hilarious. We have a crew of 30-odd phenomenal dancers and an orchestra, but the star names - Paul, Julian, Nigel [Havers] and Amanda [Holden] - there's no ego there.
'Lee Mead - Any Dream Will Do' will be on my tombstone. It was almost ten years ago but it completely changed my life and my career. It gave me a platform to show producers and the public what I could do and what I had been doing for a few years prior to that. I think I've sung "Any Dream Will Do" about 3000 times. I do it every panto, every show, it's my signature song. We do it in Cinderella. I do the number and Julian interjects with some dry lines.
When I came out of Any Dream Will Do I was instantly famous. The main thing for me was having people I didn't know talking to me without introducing themselves or saying "Hi Lee". It's quite a bizarre thing for people to know who you are without you even meeting them. I don't think I can complain though, it was my choice to do the show and I never in a million years expected to win it.
It took me four or five years to get a guest episode in Casualty. In this country you can become so well known for being a comic or a singer, or a musical theatre person but it can be hard to be seen for anything else. Certain casting directors just wouldn't see me. But I owe my TV career to Oliver Kent the head of Casualty, who remembered me after my guest episode and called up my agent when they had a character they thought would work.
My fans send me cake. Last Thursday I was given a pavlova. I get given a lot of food. Maybe they are trying to fatten me up, I'm not sure. I've always found it a bit strange. But people do send gifts for my daughter Betsy too, which is nice.
Cinderella runs at the London Palladium until 15 January.