YORK Theatre Royal's new executive director Tom Bird settled into his office amid the mad pantomime rush in December, although "settling" is not quite the right word.

Having flown the nest of Shakespeare's Globe, where he had been the London theatre's executive producer for five years, to return to his native north east, Bird is not a man to settle behind his desk.

He prefers to be on the move, available for the staff, visible to all, keeping an eye on the day-to-day business of running the Theatre Royal, where Liz Wilson had stepped down as chief executive in June and Bird was appointed in August.

He is originally from Morpeth, Northumberland, and when working at Shakespeare's Globe, he was in the habit of meeting up with his parents in York. "We'd meet here as a halfway house, and we'd see shows here, like The Railway Children, Northern Stage, Close The Coalhouse Door," he says.

"Shakespeare's Globe worked with the Theatre Royal for the first time in 2013 on a co-production of Henry VI, and it was genuinely one of my favourite days at the Globe when we did an open-air performance of all three Henry VI plays on a single day at Towton [near York]. We had lots of daft ideas at the Globe and that was one of the daftest but it worked, and it was such a beautiful day, with the sun going down as the last play started.

"Towton was the scene of the bloodiest ever battle in England, full stop, and there'd never been an event like that theatre day to mark it. So that was a watershed moment, thinking about staging Shakespeare's history plays at Towton, meeting up with Damian [Theatre Royal artistic director Damian Cruden] on a Sunday morning and working out what we could do."

They are now working together again, as Bird leaves behind his fine achievements at Shakespeare's Globe. "In a way I'd achieved a lot of things I wanted to achieve there, like directing the Globe to Globe Festival for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and touring Hamlet to nearly every country in the world between April 23 2014 and April 23 2016, and we only missed out five countries because they were too dangerous, like North Korea," says Bird, April 23 being Shakespeare's birthday by the way.

"Even Barack Obama came to the last show at the Globe, when the American President was trying to persuade Britain to stay in the European Union."

When Bird started looking for new posts, "I really didn't want to go to just anywhere," he says. "I saw this position was available at York Theatre Royal and it was genuinely the first post I made a play for.

"I knew it was a great moment to be coming here because so much of the development of the theatre had been on the capital side, with the refurbishment of the building and the main house, and I could come in and consider 'how do we present ourselves on stage, what do we look like to the city and the wider world?'."

Seeing the York public's response to the Theatre Royal pantomime, Jack And The Beanstalk, was an eye-opener. "I've travelled the world and never seen anything like it," says Bird. "On the first night, there was kind of a religious fervour about it. There was a madly creative atmosphere, which really made an impact, and the fact that the whole city comes to the panto, it strikes me that it connects with the public more than any other show or theatre project in the country."

Bird will be looking for the somewhat misfiring summer children's show to do likewise after the underwhelming reaction to both Sherlock Holmes in 2016 and Robin Hood: The Arrow Of Destiny last summer. "We're looking to stage something that might genuinely appeal to young audiences, adult audiences and tourists too," he says. The choice remains a secret, but it could be a surprising garden of delights.

Community plays, such as last year's Everything Is Possible: The York Suffragettes, will continue to weave a thread between the theatre, the city and its residents. "This place does community plays better than almost anywhere in the world and we must continue to exploit the expertise of Damian and [associate director] Juliet Forster and the wider community, and maybe we could take that model and make it work for other places in the UK and abroad too.

"It would be interesting to set up partnerships where our expertise could be exported, which would also put our name on the map nationally and internationally. That leads to the exciting potential of co-productions too."

Do not read too much into the change of job title from Liz Wilson, chief executive, to Tom Bird, executive director. "It's to standardise the structure, with a lot of theatres going down that route. Here I'm the chief executive but with the new job title, I'm also a creative theatre producer, and I'm interested in that side of it, having programmed festivals before," he says.

His bond with Damian Cruden, the Theatre Royal's artistic director for 20 years, will be all important, in a year when Cruden also will be directing Macbeth for Shakespeare's Rose Theatre this summer on the Castle car park. "Damian is fantastic and really collaborative and we're having really good open discussions about the best way forward for the Theatre Royal's programming," says Bird. "There's not just me and Damian, but Juliet and John Tomlinson, for the Studio programme, too."