The advent calendars are out, the Christmas lights are on and the air is heavy with the smell of mulled wine – which can mean only one thing…
Stars of soap and screen are hot-footing it to a theatre near you to cross-dress, cover themselves in glitter and throw sweets at children, all in the name of Christmas cheer.
Sounds good, right? (Oh no it doesn’t, oh yes it does!)
But where can you find your favourite stars? Clue: they are not behind you. They are here…
Gok Wan in Snow White
Gok is taking a break from hanging around in women’s changing rooms and looking at bangers this Christmas. The fashion guru will be starring in his very first panto, instead.
He doesn’t have much acting experience, but we’re sure he’ll be fine. The 39-year-old star won’t be venturing too far out of his comfort zone as The Man in the Mirror, and, as he knows only too well, it’s all about the confidence…
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham. 19 December – 2 February.
Toadfish in Dick Whittington
With a stint in Celebrity Big Brother under his belt, Toadfish – sorry, Neighbours star Ryan Moloney – is set to tread the boards in Dunstable’s panto. Naturally. He’ll play Idle Jack in the Dick Whittington tale alongside ex-EastEnder Leslie Grantham who makes an appearance as Dirty Rat. Think that might be a reference to Dirty Den, there…
Dick Whittington, Grove Theatre, Dunstable. 13 December – 5 January.
Karl Kennedy as the Sheriff of Nottingham
Ryan’s not the only Aussie star trying his luck on the UK panto circuit this year. Fletcher, aka Neighbours’ Dr Karl Kennedy, is following in Toadfish’s footsteps and starring as the Sheriff of Nottingham. X Factor runner up Andy Abraham (the bin man from 2005) also stars. Classic line-up there.
Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, Stag Theatre, Sevenoaks. 7 December – 5 January.
Craig Revel Horwood as a Wicked Queen
Why fix something that ain’t broke, eh? This year, acid-tongued Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood is set to star as The Wicked Queen again. But he’s swapping last year’s sidekick Ann Widdecombe for the lovely Lisa Riley, who’ll play Lisa the Lady’s Maid.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-on-Sea. 13 Dec – 4 Jan.
Jo Brand as a Genie
The comedian is making her panto debut this year as what we can only assume will be a dry-humoured, dead-pan Genie of the Ring in Aladdin. But she’s not the only star to grace the New Wimbledon Theatre stage this festive season. Oh no she isn’t! The panel-show regular will be joined by “national treasure” Matthew Kelly and street dance aficionados Flawless.
Aladdin, New Wimbledon Theatre, London. 6 December – 12 January.
The Fonz as Captain Hook
The Fonz? In Richmond? Exactamundo. Sixty-eight-year-old Henry Winkler is an old hand (pardon the pun) when it comes to playing Captain Hook. Happy days!
Peter Pan, Richmond Theatre, London. 6 Decemember – 12 January.
Doctor Who joins the dark side
As if a Christmas special AND a regeneration wasn’t enough, you can have your panto with a side of Doctor Who, too. But forget good deeds and saving the day, sixth Doctor Colin Baker is on the dark side in this Pantomine…
Aladdin, Anvil Theatre, Basingstoke. 12 December – 5 January.
Ashleigh and Pudsey and Dick
Is there nothing that dog can’t do? Not content with the Britain’s Got Talent trophy, various TV shows and an upcoming feature film, Pudsey and his human Ashley are set to make an appearance in Manchester Opera House’s Dick Whittington. Expect canine cartwheels and perfect paw-work.
Dick Whittington, Manchester Opera House, Manchester. 6 December – 5 January.
Phil Mitchell as Captain Hook
Life is tough for poor Phil Mitchell, so a turn as evil pirate Captain Hook must be a breath of fresh air. He’s following in the footsteps of fellow EastEnders stars Laila Morse and Larry Lamb who have appeared in Fairfields Hall’s panto for the last two years – it’s like a respite centre for residents of the square.
Peter Pan, Fairfields Hall, Croydon. 6 December – 5 January.
Zoe Salmon as Cinders
Woking is the place to head if you’ve got little ones to please. Ex-Blue Peter presenter Zoe Salmon and Mr Tumble (we know, exciting stuff) will be starring opposite each other in Cinderella. Salmon will play put-upon Cinders while Mr Tumble, whose real name is Justin Fletcher, will be her Buttons.
Cinderella, New Victoria Theatre, Woking. 6 December – 5 January.