Barbara Bryceland: Falkirk’s own fairy godmother will turn town’s Christmas lights on

Fairy Babs...Barbara Bryceland will turn on Falkirk's Christmas lights on Sunday (November 18) at 5pm, along with Santa and Provost Billy Buchanan. She will then start rehearsing for Cinderella, starring as the fairy godmother in Imagine Theatre's professional panto at Falkirk Town Hall.
Fairy Babs...Barbara Bryceland will turn on Falkirk's Christmas lights on Sunday (November 18) at 5pm, along with Santa and Provost Billy Buchanan. She will then start rehearsing for Cinderella, starring as the fairy godmother in Imagine Theatre's professional panto at Falkirk Town Hall.

In a career spanning more than 30 years, Barbara Bryceland has happily worked non-stop thanks to her powerful vocals.

But this Christmas she’s venturing into new territory – appearing as Fairy Babs, the fairy godmother in the first professional panto at Falkirk Town Hall.

Career girl...while Barbara Bryceland enjoyed her "15 minutes of fame" thanks to X Factor and the Voice, she has worked in the business for more than 30 years and her diary is already filling up for next year too.

Career girl...while Barbara Bryceland enjoyed her "15 minutes of fame" thanks to X Factor and the Voice, she has worked in the business for more than 30 years and her diary is already filling up for next year too.

Before that, she has the small matter of turning on the festive lights in Falkirk town centre this Sunday (November 18).

And the effervescent performer can’t wait to take to the stage.

She said: “It’s fantastic performing in front of a home crowd.

“I’m originally from Greenock but I moved to Falkirk when I was 18 and my daughter and grandchildren have been brought up here, so it’s home.

Busy Christmas...for Barbara who is preparing for her own show at Falkirk Town Hall on Wednesday, November 21, followed by the first ever professional panto in the same venue.

Busy Christmas...for Barbara who is preparing for her own show at Falkirk Town Hall on Wednesday, November 21, followed by the first ever professional panto in the same venue.

“I’ve played gigs in the Leapark, the Orchard, the Oxgangs and the Hannigan Hotels – I’ve been singing for more than 30 years so I’ve played my fair share!

“Sometimes it’s been brilliant, other times it has been hard going.

“But it’s what I always wanted to do since I was a wee girl and I still love it.

“I’m looking forward to the lights switch on. Christmas is my favourite time of year so people can expect fun, upbeat songs.

“I’ve done a few switch ons over the years but never Falkirk – I can’t wait!

“It seems to be my year for events here; I was at the fireworks the other night, now it’s the switch on, followed by my Christmas show at FTH and the panto.

“I’m sending my Christmas cards out now!”

It was, in fact, while trying to book her annual FTH Christmas show that Barbara (54) discovered Imagine Theatre was staging the first professional panto here.

She explained: “My show is usually in December but it was fully booked.

“So I decided to send Imagine an email and asked them to Google me. I just thought I’d give it a wee bash.

“Anyway, they got back to me and said they were really keen for me to take part.

“I’ve done a lot of singing but never acted before.

“It’s not Hamlet though and I’ve been on the stage for a long time now, telling stories, a few gags and having a bit of banter.

“Panto’s pretty much the same and Fairy Babs is a sassy fairy godmother – I’m channelling Elaine C Smith, whom I love.”

After the lights switch on this Sunday, Barbara will take to the stage at FTH for her Christmas show on Wednesday, November 21, before rehearsals start for Cinderella on November 26, leading up to the panto opening on December 6.

But she’s already had a wee taste of what’s to come.

“The scenery and costumes are amazing,” she said. “Imagine has gone all out for the town’s first professional panto. It looks like it’s going to be incredible.”

While it means the next few weeks will be hectic for Barbara, she doesn’t mind one little bit.

Her dad died when she was just nine so her mum, also Barbara, worked two jobs to look after her, instilling a strong work ethic.

And that has stood the songstress in good stead.

For although appearing on the X Factor in 2007 and the Voice in 2012 was a boon, she was busy long before they aired.

Barbara said: “They definitely got me my 15 minutes of fame but I’d been working long before that and still am now.

“My mum taught me to always go for it – and I have.”

Indeed, her diary is already filling up for 2019.

Thankfully, Barbara does have a lot of support from her mum, daughter Nicola (37) and her grandchildren Mia (10) and Craig (8).

Her husband Stuart Churchill is a professional photographer too, which definitely comes in handy.

And they will all be at the Steeple on Sunday to watch as Barbara switches her “home” town lights on.

Kicking off at 2.30pm, a host of talent will perform at the Steeple, including The Big Band Theory, The Choir Factory, family favourites Big Bad Wolf and the winner of the Star at the Steeple competition.

Santa and his elves will entertain the crowds before a star performance from Barbara. She will then be joined on stage at 5pm by Santa and Provost Billy Buchanan for the big switch-on ceremony.

Barbara’s Christmas show will be staged at FTH on Wednesday, November 21, at 7.30pm, boasting show tunes, diva anthems and Christmas classics.

Tickets, priced £16/£14 on 01324 506850.

Imagine Theatre’s Cinderella, also starring River City’s Sally Howitt, will boast special effects, song and dance numbers, a hilarious script and bags of audience participaiton!

Running from December 6 to December 24, for tickets email bookings@falkirkcommunitytrust.org or call 01324 506850.