Tom Lister has just come off stage at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre. For the past 90 minutes he has been booed constantly - and he’s delighted!

Tom is playing the ultimate panto villain Abanazar in Aladdin in the festive family show which also stars comedian and Britain’s Got Talent runner-up Steve Royle.

The Bolton News: Tom Lister as Abanazar in Aladdin at Blackpool Grand Theatre

“I’m back on stage for another show in about an hour,” said Tom, who TV viewers will know for playing Emmerdale bad boy Carl King. “It’s all systems go in this crazy panto season but we love it. It’s a brutal schedule but it’s a lot of fun

“The more chaotic and fun it gets, the more the audience loves it and myself and certainly Steve, we thrive in the chaos. We’re having a blast.”

It wasn’t until Tom was written out of Emmerdale in a dramatic storyline in 2012 in the show’s 40th anniversary episode that he appeared in panto.

“The first one I did was in Sunderland and the theatre was massive; it was a barn of a place,” he said. “The following year I came to Blackpool and worked with Steve for the first time and I’ve been doing panto on and off ever since.

The Bolton News: Abanazar, Tom Lister and Widow Twankey, Ben Harlow in Aladdin at Blackpool Grand

“Even though I know what I’m letting myself in for I keep coming back. I must be a glutton for punishment.”

Tom revels in playing the arch baddie in the show.

“Oh, it’s always the best part,” he said. “From the moment you walk on stage, the audience are ready for you and the way the part is written you get to interact with them all the time. Honestly, it’s just such a fun thing to do.”

Tom has starred in several productions of Peter Pan where he played Captain Hook.

“I loved that,” he said. “There’s no dame in Peter Pan so I thought of him as a cross between and villain and a dame, at least that’s what he was when I played him.”

Last year Tom was in Aladdin for the first time in Bath.

“I knew the show would be coming to Blackpool this year and I really wanted to be part of it,” he said. “It’s the best of both worlds for me as I get the chance to stay at home over Christmas and get to work in this gorgeous theatre with one of my best mates.”

The Bolton News: Tom Lister and Steve Royle in Aladdin at Blackpool Grand Theatre

Tom and Steve have formed a formidable panto double act.

“We really hit it off when we first worked together in 2013,” said Tom. “Then we worked together again about four or five years ago. We sat down down and planned loads of stuff and wrote a lot of the script ourselves for that show.

“When we knew we were both in Aladdin, we would get together and rewrite lots of different scenes so that we could be on stage together.

“Traditionally Abanazar is usually on his own so we had to work out ways to rectify that so we wrote three new scenes. Wishee Washee has also crowbarred himself into one of my scenes too.

“Thankfully those scenes are going down a storm and some of the things we have written, people are talking about the most when they leave. We had to push to make some of the changes but the creative team were brilliant and let us do it.”

Tom is full of praise for his co-star.

“It’s just wonderful to be on stage with him and learn from him,” he said. “He totally embraces the chaos and thrives on it. He can go off on a tangent but knows just the right moment to get back to the script. He’s just so quick and funny boned. It’s where 20 years of experience really pays off.”

Like many panto stars, Tom is very conscious of the young audiences who come along to experience the magic of live theatre.

“I remember one of my first experiences when I was young was seeing Cannon and Ball in Babes in the Wood, I think at the Alhambra in Bradford,” he said. “I’ll never forget it. I was falling off my chair I was laughing so much.

“Little did I know that 40 years later I’d be the one on the stage making youngsters laugh.

“I’m one of four children so Christmas was always mad busy with big family get togethers and it’s always been a special time of year for me.

“I think that’s why I love panto so much. You are actually helping create other people’s family traditions. It might be they always come on Boxing Day or Christmas Eve or grandma always sorts out the tickets.

The Bolton News: Tom Lister as Abanazar in Aladdin at Blackpool Grand Theatre and (below) on stage with Steve Royle who plays Wishee Washee

“When they come, they are well up for it so then it’s our job to deliver. Do it right and it’s one of the things that makes their Christmas - I love that.”

Tom has also been performing in shows the West End over Christmas and admits he’s missed the excitement of panto when that’s happened.

“It’s a very different vibe,” he said. “People do come to the theatre to celebrate Christmas in their own way but it’s not the same. It’s lovely to be in London at Christmas with all the lights on Oxford Street but it’s not a fun d rive home on Christmas Eve.”

This year Tom has been filming for TV series which will be shown in the new year.

“I did some work on The Bay,” he said, “and there’s a new ITV drama called Passengers. It’s good to be back on screen. I’m also flying out to Barcelona in the new year to do my cabaret show on a cruise which is a bit of light relief. I’m hoping it might be a bit warmer that it is in Blackpool at the moment.”

But before that he still has many more panto audiences to entertain.

“I think what makes it even more special is that we went through that horrible period when we were suddenly not able to work at all,” he said. “Now things are back in full swing and audiences are throwing themselves into it. It’s the best thing ever. It’s just great to be working and have people so up for it.”

Aladdin is at Blackpool Grand Theatre until New Year’s Day. Details from