Globe arts critic Peter Grant raises a toast of ginger beer to Wirral's starring role in Enid Blyton's The Secret Seven this Christmas.

There will be "lashings of fun," says Alex Clifton, when Wirral becomes a star in its own right as the seasonal setting for this year's festive show at Storyhouse Chester.

Alex, artistic director of the flagship culture centre featuring theatres, cinema, bars, eateries and libraries, is proud to have secured the rights to offer a world premiere with a difference.

He has worked with theatre and opera companies including the National and been a teacher with RADA.

Theatre is, indeed, in his blood and he likes nothing better than involving the community in every cultural sense of the word.

Enid Blyton's gang and Wirral are ideal partners, believes Alex with his trademark infectious enthusiasm.

Away from his base in Chester, he is a big fan of the peninsular.

He said: "I had always intended to set it in Wirral.

"It is a naturally beautiful place.

"The skylines, sunsets - the vivid colours. It's perfect. I take my children to the beaches of Hoylake and West Kirby." 

Alex has been thrilled with the first year of Storyhouse and welcomes the 'neighbours' of Wirral who, like audience from all over the region, have enjoyed a diverse opening season.

There have been home-grown productions in the '500 seater thrust stage' from the critically-acclaimed rep company to one-night stand-up star showcases and such blockbusters as the forthcoming Blood Brothers.

The Chester Literature Festival in November is another string to its bow with some shows already sold out.

Wirral Globe:

Alex Clifton. Picture: Paul Read photography

The Chester-born actor, who has made the Grosvenor Open Air Theatre such a must see and experience since 2009, says this Christmas production will stick to the spirit of the much-loved original books.

"We do have a cheeky spirit here, too", he says: "This is a classic work, set after World War 2 - a stage version written by Glyn Maxwell who did our Alice in Wonderland and Wind in the Willows and our team of designer James Perkins and composer Harry Blake.

"We are all excited especially with our great cast in our intimate setting.

"It is a story of pure heart, of secrets and adventures.

"It will involve the audience in the way we know how.

"This is a story of The Secret Seven on their first adventure caught in a moment – the innocence, the magic, the life.

"A trail of strange clues which lead them to the village, to the old house and more clues ... a real mystery - but will it be solved by Christmas Eve? I am not telling..." 

Oh go on, Alex.

"No, you will have to come and see," he says.

Alex certainly knows all about teasing and appeasing audiences.

He made his stage debut in The Christmas Cat and The Pudding Pirates when he was just twelve at the Chester Gateway youth theatre.

"I remember we threw outs sweets into the audience - they loved it, we nearly got mauled." 

Although he won't be dishing out confectionaries this time around he says he is confident this from his exciting team will tick all the festive boxes.

"Yes, I do believe it will be a spectacle with lashings and lashings of fun," I'll drink to that with a ginger beer.

And here's to you, Wirral – star status at last.

Secret Seven will be staged at Storyhouse from December 1 to January 14. 

Tickets are from the box office on 01244 409 113.