X Factor winner Sam Bailey is starring in her first ever pantomime, Dick Whittington at the Aylesbury Waterside. Her role is witty, hilarious and above all she's a magical fairy - Sam says she “absolutely loves it” and can’t help but “laugh in the wings” at every single joke in every single performance.

The 38-year-old former prison officer from Leicester won the reality show in 2013 and has since done things she says she never would have dreamed of.

“Someone asked me about panto and I was like oh my god I love it,” says Sam, “I’ve always had it on my bucket list, but there was no way of doing it if you’re not in the business and I had given up on the idea a little bit through being a prison officer.

“But winning the X Factor has given me that stepping stone to go on and do so many things.”

The mother of three tells me how as a child her grandparents used to take her to see pantomimes - “so to be part of one and to have my kids come and see me is everything.”

This year Sam, who was diagnosed with a facial paralysis condition called Bell’s Palsy shortly after giving birth to her daughter a year ago, set herself a number of challenges - things she has never done before. After headlining her first tour in January, she has completed a 100-mile bike, the tough mudder endurance test and is now experiencing the rigours of the pantomime season.

“I’ve never done any acting before. This so it is all new to me and I absolutely love it. Even though I've done the shows several times in the last couple of weeks and heard the jokes over and over again, I still think it is hilarious and I'm laughing me head off in the wings.

"So far we have had a lot of schools come and we've been performing to hundreds of children," Sam adds, who has so far found performing in pantomime far less nerve racking than performing on the X Factor.

"I was a nervous wreck on the X Factor. I think it was because it is life changing - you go on, you sing and that's it. I am eternally grateful for everything that I have done on the show and what the show has done for me, but this is so much more interactive.

"It's exciting and the kids really get involved - it's such a great atmosphere. My children were really excited, especially as there is a part in the show where you might get wet in the audience, so I had loaded them with water pistols ready to fight back."

There is a routine in the show where Idle Jack goes out into the audience sprays them with water. Sam, who plays the role of Fairy Bowbells, says many children come ready to have a bit of a water fight.

"I'm not on stage for this part. I would love to be but unfortunately I can't do much running in this dress - it's so big and heavy that if I did I would literally fall over or step on it and it would just be carnage.

"I'm in the wings and you can hear the screams of people. It's brilliant," Sam exclaims.

"So if anyone is coming to see the show either bring a raincoat or a water pistol."

The popstar, who will be spending Christmas Day with her family at home, says she doesn't have anything in particular - "I've already bought myself a coat and we have bought a computer for home.

"But I know the kids have got me something and I know what it is. It's my favourite perfume - Chanel no.5 - we have a mirror in the bathroom that is the shape of the Chanel bottle so if the kids ever forget or need an idea of what to get me, they just have to go into the bathroom."

Commenting on this year's X Factor, the former winner says although she wanted Che to do well and liked Reggie and Bollie, she knew Louisa would win. She explains, "I messaged her on Monday to congratulate her and also advise her to get as much sleep as possible, because she will given 12 hour days where she will be running around this week doing interviews, going to various radio stations and will be up until 3am. 

"I would also advise to look after herself - don't become somebody you're not and stay grounded. Go to the shops as much as possible, because then it makes you feel normal - I like the fact that I can still go to Tesco's in my onesie. But above all to just embrace the whole experience."

Sam, who states that the pantomime and opening the NTA with Michael Bolton have so far been the highlights of her career, is also starring as Mama Morton in Chicago in the new year. She will also be releasing another album later in 2016 with original tracks.

Sam Bailey is at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre until January 3, 2016. Details: www.atgtickets.com.