Giant Jack and the Beanstalk panto star set loose on Newcastle's Grey Street

One of the stars of Newcastle Theatre Royal's record-breaking panto was set loose on the streets yesterday

FX Twins Gary and Paul Hardy-Brown with Norman the Giant, on stage at the Theatre Royal Newcastle
FX Twins Gary and Paul Hardy-Brown with Norman the Giant, on stage at the Theatre Royal Newcastle

A giant was set loose on Grey Street yesterday as Jack and the Beanstalk’s biggest star lent a hand to promote the record-breaking panto.

Norman the giant is so big he has to go on all fours just to fit on stage at the Theatre Royal – so his creators detached one 13-foot arm and brought it outside.

Twins Gary and Paul Hardy-Brown spent almost nine months on the animatronic monster, who stands 39 feet high and weighs almost a tonne.

It takes nine puppeteers to work his arms, legs, eyes and mouth, and the brothers are trying to get him into the Guinness Book of Records.

Gary said: “We’re always thinking outside the box. Our meetings with Michael Harrison, the director, are crazy - nothing is impossible.

 

“We’ve been doing Newcastle pantomimes for doing five years, and every year it gets better and better and bigger and bigger.

“The reaction is great, because the audience just don’t know what’s going to hit them next. You hear the tension and you have these wow moments, this breath, where people just suck in air.

“We get a lot of children coming in, and when they see it, they do sometimes wet their seats. We had one school party that decided they didn’t like the giant and just got up and ran.”

Jack and the Beanstalk has broken all previous records a to become the most successful pantomime in the Theatre Royal’s 176-year history with sales of over £1m.

Norman the Giant's arm is brought outside the Theatre Royal in Newcastle
Norman the Giant's arm is brought outside the Theatre Royal in Newcastle
 

The panto has sold more than 90,000 tickets since it opened on November 26 and still has ten days still to go until its final performance on Saturday, January 18.

Norman himself menaces the audience as a 3D projection before the real one comes out on stage, but is vanquished when they pelt him with foam stottie cakes.

The twins said they named him after their father, a retired engineer who will see his namesake on stage for the first time next week.

Gary said: “We tend to name our effects after people we know. Because your father is always your hero, he’s a giant of a man, and so we thought it would be nice to call him Norman.”

The pair, who built last year’s magic carpet and also made monsters for Doctor Who Live and Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds, are booked for the Theatre’s next panto, Snow White.

Paul said: “We have already starting talking about Snow White for this Christmas. We know it’s going to be a stunning show and it’s only the middle of January.”

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer