ONE of the legends of British theatre is returning to Blackpool next week with a record-breaking show based on a Charles Dickens’ Christmas classic.

Tommy Steele will star in Scrooge at the Opera House which opens on Tuesday and 10 years after first taking on the lead role, he remains as excited about it as ever.

“To be honest, when I’m between shows I still really miss that adrenaline rush of being in front of a live audience,” he said. “When the audience is with you it’s the most wonderful feeling. You don’t want to come off stage.”

Tommy’s career spans nearly 60 years and in that time he’s been a pop icon, film star and one of the great entertainers.

And he has made the role of Scrooge his own, spending seven years at the London Palladium with the show as part of a record-breaking run.

“It’s 10 years since producer Bill Kenwright first approached me and said he’d got a great show for me to do. I was 66 at the time and told him I thought I might be a little too old to play Bob Cratchit,” he said.

“At first I was concerned as to whether I could pull off being Scrooge. It was a completely different kind of role for me.

“And even now the one thing I’m frightened of is the audience seeing Tommy Steele coming on stage rather than Scrooge.

“When I first come on I’m always a little apprehensive that they will either cheer or start to laugh.

“But I play Scrooge as quite a dark character and I think it proves that actually I can act as it does surprise the audience and they accept me as Scrooge from the start.”

Although he has spent 10 years with the show, Tommy refuses to let complacency set in either with his own performanace or with the production as a whole.

“An audience can spot an ill-disciplined or under-rehearsed show in a second,” he said.

“People have certain expectactions when they come to a show and we always try to exceed them. You have to keep the show fresh and be on top of everything and that’s what I try to instill in everyone.”

With a show as successful as Scrooge, a number of previous cast members have gone on to make a name for themselves in the West End and Tommy is very much seen as a role model for them.

“I’m told that I do know how to create the right atmosphere for the cast,” he said. “There are times when you have to be serious and you should always work hard but there is time for some fun too.

“The thing you should never forget is that the audience have always been the ones who will choose whether a show is a success or not “To them the night they have bought a ticket for is all that matters and you have to ensure that they get a show they’ll never forget.

“It doesn’t matter how you are feeling or what kind of day you’ve had, the show is the important thing.”

  • Scrooge, Blackpool Opera House, Tuesday, December 17 to Saturday, December 21. Details from 0844 856 1111.