Jay Bunyan is familiar to many as Jack Scully in the perennial Australian soap, Neighbours. He is now hard at work rehearsing pantomime in Bromley and speaks to Paul Revel about his love of theatre and beaches

Just arrived at stage-door, Jay Bunyan is running late and expected on stage for rehearsal any minute but despite the flap, he is affable and friendly. This is Bunyan's first full-scale panto and he says he is really looking to it.

"It's going to be great. I'm working with a really strong cast, Dave Willets from Phantom of the Opera, Karl Howman, Cezarah Bonner, Tudor Davies, they're all legends and they're lots of fun," he enthuses.

New Zealand born, Bunyan spent two-and-a-half years in Melbourne on the Neighbours set.

"It opened a lot of doors for me and it means people have taken notice of work I did before Neighbours," he explains.

Bunyan previously appeared in several New Zealand TV shows, including Young Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess.

He was involved with the respected Auckland Playhouse Theatre from the age of eight and says he has always had a passion for theatre.

"My kindergarten teacher was a big influence. She worked as a clown and puppeteer and she really encouraged our creative sides," he says.

Bunyan is now about as far away from his home as you can get and is missing not having a beautiful beach on his doorstep.

"To give you a picture of what it looks like, it's where they filmed Xena and Hercules. Big rugged beaches, all rocks and surf."

One of Bunyan's first jobs was touring with Scallywag Pirates, performing singing-and-dancing children's shows all over New Zealand.

"We toured for two years. It was a great way to see my own country. We did two to three shows a day, plus all the driving, and rehearsing new numbers. It is one of the hardest jobs I have done."

The busy lad also recently played the Edinburgh Festival with his successful one-man show The Packer. He explains its premise.

"It's about a young white trash kid in a dead-end job, living with his alcoholic mother. A Polynesian family move in next door, so you have the cultural clashes.

"I played eight characters, it was quite a challenge. But we pulled it off and got some great reviews."

So is he looking forward to a cold Christmas?

"It will be different what I'm used to which is a barbecue on the beach!" he laughs.

"I've got one day off so I'll head into London and spend it with friends."

As soon as his Bromley season is over, Bunyan will jump on a plane to LA for several months filming a pilot.

"I'm focusing on moving into film at the moment," he says.

"It's exciting and its what I have wanted to do for a long time and this has been my journey to get there.

"I'll always come back to theatre as it's where I trained and got my passion. You get the instant reaction off the audience and it's bright and sparkly."

-Aladdin, Churchill Theatre, High Street, Bromley, December 9-January 15, £15-£19, 0870 0606620.