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INTERVIEW: Tony Glynn chats to X Factor star Niki Evans

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: December 26, 2013

BAD FAIRY: Niki Evans in character at Broomhill Sculpture Gardens.  Picture: Mike Southon. Ref:  BNMS20131011C-078_C

BAD FAIRY: Niki Evans in character at Broomhill Sculpture Gardens. Picture: Mike Southon. Ref: BNMS20131011C-078_C

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NIKI Evans is relishing being the cackling, scheming and downright terrifying villain on the scene. Since reaching the semi-final of X Factor 2007, she has busied herself with a variety of theatrical roles including Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers and the Good Fairy in Jack And The Beanstalk.

She returns to pantoland again this Christmas, but this time the nice lady with the magic wand has been replaced with someone altogether more nasty. How has this change come about?

"Actually I'm always nasty," says a grinning Niki, fresh from casting a few dark spells, no doubt. "It's been very bad casting until now, but now they know who I am. They've got it right this time.

"I always loved the baddies in panto when I was growing up. I love that nasty character in Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, Veruca Salt. I could be her I reckon."

Despite Niki's wicked transformation on stage, she is still doing a bit of what she is loved and known for: singing.

But what on earth has this jealous baddie got to sing about?

"I'm singing a few songs," says Niki, "but I'll say this about one of them – it's a Queen song. Queen at the Queen's!

"Despite being so bad to everyone, I've had so much fun with the rest of the cast – it's been hilarious. Paul Lawrence-Thomas, who plays Muddles, is the funniest man I've ever met."

And it's not just working with Paul (Muddles), Antony Stuart-Hicks (the Dame), and TV star Susan Penhaligon (Good Fairy) that is appealing to Niki. She's a big fan of North Devon too, and no stranger to the area.

"Oh I love North Devon – the places, the people, and the food and drink of course. But I might not be able to get into my costume after all the cream teas and cider.

"Last time I was here I asked for a drink and they gave me a jug!

"But cider's fruit isn't it? That's part of my five a day that is."

Despite the hectic panto life, Christmas Day itself is a somewhat more low-key affair for the Bad Fairy:

"I just like the usual," says Niki. "Lots of booze, family, crackers and twinkly lights. I'm a vegetarian but I love to cook the Christmas turkey.

"Oh and watching The Wizard Of Oz and The Sound Of Music. They're my all-time favourites, apart from Willy Wonka."

Apart from pantomimes, Birmingham-born Niki has plenty of fond festive memories.

The best present she ever received, she says, was a glockenspiel at the age of nine.

"It was a beautiful, wooden old thing. I never stopped banging away at it though – it drove my parents mad.

"I was singing away at that age too, I come from a musical family. My dad used to put me on the table and make me sing for 50 pence. Mind you I don't know if that was to shut up or carry on."

And the worst present?

"A toaster," says Niki. "They're useful, but if I want one I can just buy it myself can't I?"

The Bad Fairy made no comment as to who presented her with the aforementioned yuletide gift.

Playing the villain may be something Niki has always wanted to do, but her appearances on X Factor and subsequent roles have far from damaged her public persona.

Being someone who didn't hit the big time until well into her thirties, she remains firmly grounded and unpretentious. With a wicked sense of humour to boot.

Such humility is hardly fitting for someone playing the part of the evil and sinister Bad Fairy, but we must assume the costume takes care of that. And who knows, Niki Evans may one day return as a sweet and innocent goodie when the need to play baddies is "behind her".

Sleeping Beauty is at The Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple until Saturday, January 4. Tickets: £16 (full), £14 (concession/NDT supporter), £12 (student/young person), £46 (family), £12 (group concession 10+), £11 (group concession 30+). Box office: 01271 324242, www.north devontheatres.org.uk.

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