AARON Millard has got used to sharing his life with one of the most popular children’s book characters of all time.

And, as he brings the Gruffalo to the stage of the Lowry over Christmas, he admits he’s loving every minute of it.

“I can’t get away from the role,” said Aaron, who has played the scary monster in London’s West End.

“It’s a chance for my inner child to come to the fore,” he laughed.

Based on the book by Julia Donaldson, the stage production of The Gruffalo has been entertaining audiences around the country.

“It’s all about creating that magic for younger audiences,” said Aaron.

“My favourite books when I was young were the Roald Dahl books and I saw a Roald Dahl production which brought everything I had in my head to life.

“That was the most important thing in my childhood so hopefully for those youngsters from whom The Gruffalo is their favourite story we’ve got to do it justice.

“It has to be the Gruffalo which appears before them not Aaron and he’s got to be as loud and as hungry and excited as he would be in the story.”

Aaron is very aware that the hairy creature with large tusks could be a little too scary for some youngsters.

“There’s a fine line there. I accidentally squish things and I’m a huge terrifying monster to the creatures in the woods but there is very little danger for the audience when the Gruffalo comes out. He’s probably more afraid of them than they are of him.”

Although the show has been in theatres for much of the year, Aaron believes that being at the Lowry over Christmas will be extra special.

“It’s just perfect,” he said. “It’s that magical time of year when all the family can get together and enjoy it and in front of their eyes we are creating these magical woods. It’s exactly the kind of show people are looking for.”

The one down side for the cast is that they will have performances right over the Christmas period.

“I did a show a few years back and stayed away for Christmas and that was the hardest Christmas I’ve ever had,” he said.

“So this time, even if it’s just for a day, I’m going to try my darndest to get home. As long as I get to see my mum I’ll be happy.”

Although primarily a children’s show, it seems as though adults too love The Gruffalo.

“Some adults really try and put on a face that they’re not interested but that soon breaks down,” said Aaron.

”There’s nothing like hearing adults’ full-on laughter in a kids’ show and I really enjoy trying to push their buttons.”

Playing the Gruffalo is a physically demanding role.

“I’m eating three times the amount I normally would and drinking five or six full bottles of water a day, yet I’m skinny as I’ve ever been,” said Aaron.

After Christmas in Manchester, the show will continue to tour the UK until June before heading to Hong King and Singapore followed by a five month tour of America and Canada.

“There is no better way of exploring the world than enjoying yourself and being able to both scare and bring joy to kids,” said Aaron.

The Gruffalo, the Lowry, Salford Quays, until Sunday, January 7. Details from 0843 208 6005 or www.thelowry.com