Treasure Island pantomime dame Ma Hawkins speaks out ahead of Gorleston Pavilion Theatre performances

THIS week the Great Yarmouth Mercury caught up with Ma Hawkins in advance of her starring role in the Gorleston Theatre Company’s pantomime Treasure Island which starts its run at the Pavilion Theatre, Gorleston, on Wednesday.

In this in depth interview we find out about the life and times of this popular Dame, what makes her tick and her new year resolutions.

GYM: Ma, when you are not performing what is the day job?

Ma: Well I really am the landlady of the Admiral Benbow Inn in deepest Cornwall where I can be found pulling all sorts of things including pints of the finest ale, my pasties are a delight and much sought after by those in the know!

GYM: Have you always lived in Cornwall?

Ma: Now that’s a tale – I am not sure where I hailed from but I arrived in Cornwall at the age of six, on a boat that was moored at Pepper Cove during a smuggling run, they bartered me for some rum and I ended up in Padstow where that nice Rick Stein sells fish ‘n’ chips.

GYM: Were you a bright child?

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Ma: I loved school but was always in trouble for singing in class. My headmaster despaired of me and was always telling me that with a voice like mine I should try for a career on the boards. I think I misunderstood him and tried to enrol as crew on a clipper sailing out of St Ives – I was a bit surprised when I ended up as the cook.

GYM: How did you get into showbusiness?

Ma: Well I carried on singing by entertaining the crew on our voyages, one day I was overheard by a scout for Simon Cowbell, I auditioned for Max Factor and was a one hit wonder – there’s a surprise.

GYM: How did you end up at the Admiral Benbow?

Ma: I needed to earn a crust and ended up cooking for that Squire Trelwaney at the inn. When the landlord left in a hurry I took charge working dawn till dusk to pay the rent. When the recession hit business was hard so I decided to do a bit of acting during the winter when all the tourists are gone and became a pantomime dame.

GYM: What do you do to relax?

Ma: I just love poetry – The boy stood on the burning deck a spark flew up his coat – The Cap’n said ahoy me lads it’s time to leave the boat! Ah well back to the stove.

GYM: What are you most treasured possessions?

Ma: Only one there - my trusty frying pan. I have had the same one for years and it’s wonderful for getting out of scrapes. If you watch the panto you will see me in action with it chasing the pirates who are out to steal the treasure – it’s not bad for sausages either!

GYM: So Ma it is a new year, do you make any resolutions?

Ma: Ooh yes lots – if you make lots you must keep at least one of them. But as you ask in this Diamond Jubilee year I really want to find a husband – that Squire Trelawney is quite a wealthy man and he really appreciates the size of my frying pan.

Happy New Year everyone.

Treasure Island will be staged from Wednesday to Sunday at the Pavilion Theatre Gorleston. Evenings Wednesday to Saturday, weekend matinees. Tickets �11, �9 and �6 from the box office at the Pavilion Theatre Gorleston, telephone 01493 662832.