Wednesday 29 Oct 2014
Friday 18 December on CBEEBIES
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a traditional panto and CBeebies is no exception. This year, the channel's much-loved stars come together to present a seasonal version of the story of Jack and Jill – complete with a baddie to boo, a good fairy to cheer and a pantomime cow to cause "udder" chaos. The CBeebies presenters can't wait to step into their larger-than-life costumes and start slapping their thighs.
Here they explain the enduring appeal of the panto.
"I've adapted and written lots of pantos for theatres and television but rarely for both, so I was delighted to write this one which tells the story of Jack and Jill's doomed journey up the hill – with hilarious consequences," explains writer, presenter and self-confessed "panto nut" Chris Jarvis.
"Pantomimes appeal to children from two to 102 because they are funny, tell a good story and involve the audience in the most unique way. I don't think the children of today are any more or less sophisticated than yesterday and still laugh at the same jokes, routines and catchphrases that have been developed for decades. If anything, our appetite for panto has increased and, year on year, more people are going to see them."
Chris is no stranger to pantomime and this year will appear in his 18th professional stage pantomime in Bournemouth with Su Pollard.
"When I appeared in my first live pantomime I was so nervous I was nearly sick," says Chris. "But it didn't stop me thoroughly enjoying performing in front of an audience and I've been doing it ever since. This year, the CBeebies pantomime will be filmed in front of an audience so, hopefully, it will capture that electric atmosphere you find in the theatre."
CBeebies' regular Andy Day is getting ready to face boos and hisses from the audience as he dons the baddie's cloak to play Jingle Jangle the naughty jester. For him, there's nothing like a good pantomime for getting you in the Christmas mood: "My character is the naughty one in the pantomime and he's determined to spoil everything for everyone, but you'll have to wait and see if he succeeds," explains Andy. "But that's one of the magical things about pantomime – it's funny and very silly but has very strong morals and a sense of right and wrong. There's nothing not to like in a pantomime and it just makes it feel like Christmas."
Discover And Do host Alex Winters who, as Jack, gets to take the fateful trip up the hill, still remembers his first pantomime experience: "I remember going to see Aladdin at the New Theatre in Cardiff with Ted Rogers and Dusty Bin," he recalls. "One of the 'baddies' was put through a washing mangle and they came out completely flat! As a five-year-old, I was just completely baffled and astounded – it was amazing fun.
"I think panto will always enchant children," he adds. "As long as there are dames, fairies, goodies and baddies, songs and shouting, children will always fall in love with the theatre and a pantomime. Which child doesn't want to shout 'Boooooo' to the baddie? It's such great fun!"
The CBeebies Christmas Pantomime features Justin Fletcher (aka Mr Tumble) as Queen Fruity, Sid Sloane as The King, Andy Day as Jingle Jangle the naughty jester, Alex Winters and Cerrie Burnell as Jack and Jill, Andrew Agnew (Balamory) and Pui Fan Lee as PC Plum and PC Pui, Katy Ashworth (I Can Cook) as the good fairy, Katrina Bryan (Nina And The Neurons) as the royal wizard and Mr Maker, the Kerwhizittor and Chris Jarvis as themselves. BBC Radio 2 star Chris Evans joins the festive fun to provide the mischievous tones of the narrator.
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