Globe Columnist Peter Grant meets a panto villain ... oh, yes he does.

ONE of the UK's most famous soap stars sat in front of me in sparkling panto outfit – adorned with glittering rings, feathers and sequins - utterly unrecognisable.

Actor Bill Ward was taking a break after a photo shoot on New Brighton prom along with Wishee Washee, Widow Twankey, Princess Jasmine, a genie with a lamp and a handsome young man called Aladdin all ready and waiting to create a bit of magic.

Abanazar is keen to hit the boos ... the hissing reaction kind, that is, not the liquid variety.

"Abanazar isn't 100 per cent bad. He is a deluded man who wants to be master of the world," Bill Ward, who plays him, tells the Globe as he takes off his sparkling hat.

He also throws in a hearty laugh which should go down well with the enthusiastic audiences when the much-awaited version of Aladdin from UK Productions opens on December 8.

Newcastle-born Bill is adept at playing a certain other 'bad guy' on the small screen.

He was the rather nasty builder George Stubbs in Coronation Street for three years - that was a total of 300 episodes.

He can also play the 'nice guy' of sorts as shown with another three years and 300 episodes as Emmerdale's pretty hopeless but well-meaning farmer James Barton.

Both characters had to look behind them ... enduring gruesome ends from their respective emotionally-challenged on-screen partners.

A look at Bill's CV and you can see this star of stage and screen can put his hand to anything.

He is a great signing for the Floral's seasonal show and can't wait.

His career actually only started in 2000 but he has seldom been off our screens in series from The Bill to EastEnders and stage work has recently seen him appear in a production of Shakespeare in Love.

He finds panto a true art form where he says "good fights evil and where the purpose is to entertain."

A chance for him to let his hair down, too.

Away from winning awards for his acting, Bill is also an award-winning landscape photographer.

It's an ideal antidote to the pressures of acting he says on his website where there is a stunning gallery of his work.

It's just him and his camera and a lot of peace and quiet.

He says: "I am looking forward to spending my spare time going out and about capturing Wirral in all its picturesque glory.

"I've been doing my research and plotting the places to photograph – especially New Brighton."

Back to panto land, I ask him if he has been training at being 'wicked' again for the forthcoming 47 performances of Aladdin.

He reveals he has a great audience closer to home in Bristol - his children.

So how does he rate on their boo-o-meter?

"I think I have passed their test," laughs Bill.

The Floral Pavilion show, he says, promises boos and hisses galore as well as plenty of good cheer, sing-a-long songs and a magic carpet ride.

And don't forget plenty of Peking slapstick.

Pure genie-us, indeed.

Bill says he has few acting irons in the fire after the panto ends in 2019.

So I tell him I hope the wonderful lamp grants him his wishes on stage and screen.

And with that Abanazar disappeared ...

But he will be back, boys and girls. Oh, yes he will.

Aladdin is at the Floral Pavilion from December 8 until January 6.

Tickets from or 0151 666 0000.