THE CONVERSATION doesn’t get straight to talking about Elaine C Smith’s Widow Twankey performance at the Glasgow’s King’s Theatre where she’s headlining Aladdin. There’s the controversy to get out of the way first.

We’re chatting in the dressing room during rehearsals about her recent Bafta Scotland Best Actress Award. But Smith, perhaps surprisingly, isn’t for sipping from the champagne bottle that says Congratulations on the label. “Well, I didn’t even go to the ceremony,” she admits, with a shrug. “I stayed at home and watched the X Factor in my jammies.”

Why wouldn’t you go? There was always a chance you’d pull it off. Your Christine character in the very slick Two Doors Down is a stand-out. “I haven’t gone to the Baftas in 15 years. The only time I’ve previously been nominated in the past 30 years was in the same category as Gregor [Fisher, her one-time Rab C. Nesbitt co-star]. And they didn’t even have a separate men and women’s category.

“I thought this was really disrespectful to women, and felt the Bafta people wanted me there for the celebrity recognition factor, a bit taken for granted. And I also felt it was wrong Two Doors Down wasn’t nominated for Best Script.” The actress takes a breath; “And while I love Scot Squad (which did win) it’s improvised. How can that be right?”

Smith believes judging panels lean in favour of drama, that comedy is considered all too easy. She’s right. Comedy is harder to write and to perform. “Actors can greet easily,” she says. “Try making people laugh. And remember the only way Robin Williams could win an Oscar was in playing a straight part [In Good Will Hunting]."

The honest truth is Smith is quite pleased to have won. But not best pleased at all with the subjective process. “I know what I did with the show was good. I don’t need the approval/endorsement these days. Twenty years ago I would have been desperate for it. But not now.”

She adds: “It means more to me when Richard E Grant or Peter Kay email me and say this is the funniest thing they’ve ever seen.”

Smith’s developed confidence will be reflected this week when she takes to the panto stage. It’s a form she understands implicitly. Now 60, she admits panto has changed a great deal since her first appearance as Cinderella in Motherwell. “Well, I can remember back in drama school days when you were taught to look down your nose at commercial panto,” she recalls. “I admit I had a wee bit of that patronising attitude too. I preferred panto at the likes of the Tron Theatre in Glasgow, which were beautiful and with great stories.”

In contrast, commercial panto was all too often celebrity led, with nebulous storylines offering a backdrop for telly favourites to sell themselves. “I want a story,” she deems. “I need a through line. I don’t want to see a puppet act these days. And when you have your big moments, for example when I come on as Beyonce (“All The Single Wifies”) or whatever, it has to fit in with the storyline. The routines have to join up with the script.”

As Smith talks about the panto content in great detail, the slightly downbeat Bafta story voice disappears. She is entirely energised and excited as she describes Johnny Mac’s wonderful Aladdin/palace break-in routine or her script input ideas. “When I read the script there was just half a page of dialect before Aladdin and the Princess get married. I said ‘no, we need more.’ People don’t get married five minutes after they meet. This isn’t Love Island.”

Smith’s elbows are deep in the tub that is Widow Twankey’s world. She’s clearly loving the chance to help the show evolve. But what of sexual politics? Panto has had bad crit in the past where women are concerned, reduced to playing sweet-faced but vacant girls or wicked queens. “We’ve got an Empress this year, rather than an Emperor in Anne Smith check,” she counters. “And we’ve got a great scene in which Princess Jasmine, played by Frankie McCann whose half Glaswegian and half Chinese, takes up a sword.”

She adds: “To be honest, I’d prefer to have more Asian actors. But the panto addresses race. It even asks if we’re being racist in having the baddies speak in a posh English accent.”

Smith’s certainly happy. “In 22 years of doing this I’d like to have affected more change. But we’ve come some way. And now we’ve got a show with some great routines and a really tight story everyone will love.” She grins. “Who needs a Bafta?”

Aladdin, The King’s Theatre Glasgow, December 1 - January 6.