Join Woking Symphony Orchestra

Round & About


Woking Symphony Orchestra is looking for string players & there’s a new concert to enjoy

Woking Symphony Orchestra is recruiting! They want to hear from you if you play viola or cello as they have space for a few more in their ranks.

If you or someone you know is looking to join an orchestra, they’d love to hear from you whether you’re a seasoned pro or an apprehensive performer, all are welcome.

Their next event is the Summer Concert on Saturday, 22nd June at Welcome Church, Woking when the repertoire will include Strauss Horn Concerto No.2 and Mahler Symphony No.5. The concert will feature Joel Ashford on French Horn and conductor Roy Stratford and will also feature a pre-concert talk at 6.45pm before the main event at 7.30pm. Book at Woking Symphony Orchestra.

The Woking Symphony Orchestra is one of Surrey’s leading orchestras. For over a century it has offered music lovers in Woking and beyond the opportunity to enjoy live performances of great orchestral music right on the doorstep. They have more than 60 members who meet weekly to play a rewarding and varied repertoire that combines classical favourites with the works of lesser-known composers and 20th century pieces.

There are no formal auditions so just come along and try out a rehearsal, always good humoured and rewarding, on Tuesday evenings during term time at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Coldharbour Road, Pyrford, GU22 8SP. They run from 7.30-9.45pm with a break for tea or coffee.

Get in touch at [email protected]!

Go on the hunt in Horsell

Round & About


Join the garden safari this month and you never know what you’ll track down and all for local good causes

You might not see any elephants or giraffes, but the village of Horsell is once again looking forward to welcoming visitors to the annual garden safari on June 15th and 16th.

It’s a date when people meet up with friends, enjoy the various gardens on offer and relax with a cup of tea and cake! This is their 22nd year and they are looking forward to everyone enjoying the days and celebrating the British love of plants, gardens and gardening.

David Bromley tells us: “We are of course renowned for being the most avid and possibly the best gardeners in the world. Opening this year are some new gardens, some that have been missed as they haven’t opened for a few years and some old favourites. The gardens offer a lovely mix of the new and familiar, the small and the large and all in a range of styles.

“This year amongst many other things there are Koi Carp, operatic themed teas and Tudor buildings on offer. If you haven’t been to the allotments, go and find them on Sunday, 16th June and enjoy the amazing range of flowers, fruit and vegetables – you might well be inspired to grow your own if you haven’t done so before. Visiting the three new gardens to support their efforts will have them open again in the future.”

Brochures, still costing only £8 for entry to all gardens on both days, are on sale in the usual local Horsell High Street shops and businesses, namely Seymours, Premier Store Horsell, Lisa Jones and the Horsell Framing Company. They are also available from participating gardens on the day.

There are 24 different gardens to view, 15 open on Saturday and 15 on Sunday so get your walking shoes on, or pump up the bicycle tyres in readiness and join Horsell for a wonderful outdoor weekend!

“All proceeds are donated to local charities and thanks as always should go to those super folks who open their gardens, Seymours, Hamlyns and Victoria Clinic who sponsor the event, the shops who sell the brochures and of course, the visitors who make the efforts so worthwhile,” adds David. “In the years of the safari it has raised just short of £75,000 for the local charities. Keep up the great work everyone.”

Calendar Girls returns to the stage

Round & About


The true story of the Calendar Girls launched a global phenomenon: a million copycat calendars, a record-breaking movie, the fastest-selling stage play in British theatre history, and now a musical written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth.

Tim Firth’s involvement with Calendar Girls began with the original movie 20 years ago and along with his writing partner of the musical, Gary Barlow, he has reworked this new production ahead of an extensive UK tour. Tim tells us a little about the new musical and the inspiration behind its reimagining.

“There was something in the heart of lockdown that was all about time; about suddenly being dumped with a container load of it, about managing that, not resenting it, realising you were lucky to have it and not to waste it…if you were well enough to enjoy it. Of course, it’s only looking back that we can get that kind of perspective. For the pair of us it just presented as an inexplicable urge to DO stuff; to write, to plot new work and to re-examine work that already existed.  This led us to new projects; it also turned our heads back towards Calendar Girls the Musical. 

Now, by this time it was a good few years since we had written the show and there was justifiable trepidation in returning to the project. After all it had been in the West End, done a national tour and was due to be performed by many companies around the UK if lockdown finished. However, that UK was going to have changed. A strange sense of liberation came out of the confinement that meant, we thought – whatever you’re thinking, just try it. Take the chance. Have a fresh look. Take the jump.

Maybe we’ll never get that sense of empowerment again. It was like the bravery you have when starting out as a kid and feel you have nothing to lose. That was it; the spirit we momentarily regained meant we re-wrote like we had nothing to lose. In a sense we were led by the words of Dare, one of the songs in the show; something about taking a jump without the fear meaning you stand a better chance of making a landing on the other side.

The film is twenty years old this year, the real girls more than twenty years older but their story, like their sunflowers, seems to keep reseeding of its own accord; and when it does, the flower is always, always the same. It’s only the shape that changes.”

After opening to rave reviews in the autumn, the brand-new production of the smash-hit production Calendar Girls the Musical, written by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth comes to Woking from Tuesday 26 to Saturday 30 March.

Calendar Girls the Musical brings together a stunning cast of music, stage, and television stars. Baring it all in 2024 are Laurie Brett (Eastenders) as Annie, Liz Carney (The Full Monty, The Mousetrap), Helen Pearson (Hollyoaks), Samantha Seager (Coronation Street), Maureen Nolan (The Nolans, Blood Brothers), Lyn Paul (The New Seekers, Blood Brothers) and Honeysuckle Weeks (Foyle’s War). They are joined by Colin R Campbell, Andrew Tuton, alongside Jayne Ashley, Lucas August and Victoria Hay in the ensemble.

Following the death of a much-loved husband, a group of ordinary women in a small Yorkshire Women’s Institute are prompted to do an extraordinary thing and set about creating a nude calendar to raise money for charity. But upturning preconceptions is a dangerous business and none of the women are prepared for the emotional and personal ramifications they will face as the fabulous and funny calendar brings each woman unexpectedly into flower.

This production sees this incredible true story continue to bloom, this reimagined book and new music sees the show packed with unforgettable songs, bringing the joy to life live on stage. 

Tim Firth and Gary Barlow said: “The chance to look again with fresh eyes at our musical is something that came as an unexpected opportunity during lockdown and we’re both hugely excited not only with the shape we found, but also to work on a new production of it with such an amazing cast” 

This tour is proud to be supporting Blood Cancer UK, the charity dedicated to funding research into all blood cancers including leukaemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, as well as offering information and support to blood cancer patients. Every performance continues to add to the millions already raised for Blood Cancer UK and prove that there is no such thing as an ordinary woman.

Calendar Girls is at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking from Tuesday 26th March – 30th March

Tickets are on sale visit here for booking links and more information.

Woking Young Musician of the Year

Karen Neville


Young talent on show on February 3rd as performers compete for awards

The Woking Young Musician of the Year competition takes place on February 3rd, with outstanding performers aged 14-20 from this year’s Woking Music festival invited to participate.

The adjudicator for the Young Musician of the Year competition will be Paul Barritt who has been leader of the Royal Northern Sinfonia, the English Chamber Orchestra and until recently, the Hallé, having performed with this orchestra for the past 20 years.

Cash prizes are awarded to the winners and a bursary is also awarded to study at a summer school. Several of these performers have gone on to be in the finals of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition and, in recent years, two have won this coveted title.

Other awards that will be presented at the event are Woking Junior Musician of the Year, Most Promising Young singer, Most Promising Young Actor, and a chamber music award.

The Woking YM evening is an annual event at which a selection of the best competitors aged 14 to 20 who attended the Woking Music Festival in November 2023 are invited to compete in concert conditions.

The talented young musicians will be performing at St John Church, St John, Woking where the audience would be treated to a delightful musical evening from some of our most talented young musicians.

Woking Music Festival is a celebration of the musical and literary vitality of Woking and the surrounding area. The festival welcomes people of all ages and abilities, who can derive and give pleasure in participating, whatever their tastes or performing standard.

Founded by Nancy Leigh in 1926 and affiliated to the British and International Federation of Festivals (BIFF), the festival is now one of the largest of its kind in the south-east with around 1,000 people taking part each year. Highly respected teachers and performers act as adjudicators, giving valuable advice and guidance to all participants.

More than 90 trophies are competed for in over 200 classes. Subjects covered include musicals, jazz, classical music including opera and oratorio, school choirs, bands, speech and drama.

The adjudicators come from music and drama institutions across the UK who judge winners in each category and give valuable advice and guidance.

Visit for information on all events, dates and venues. Tickets £12 per adult, children under 18 free.

Gordon Ramsay Academy recipes

Round & About


We’re serving up summer sensations thanks to Sally Codling, a chef at Gordon Ramsay Academy in Woking

Chef Sally’s pea scotch eggs

Offering a change from the normal sausage meat, these vibrant green, fresh & herby Scotch eggs are vegetarian; perfect for summer picnics or lunches al fresco. Serve warm with a little salt.


• Six eggs
• 1 tsp olive oil
• 3 shallots, finely chopped
• 250g frozen peas
• Few sprigs of mint, leaves picked
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 40g Pecorino cheese, finely grated
• 40g plain flour
• 60g panko breadcrumbs


1. Half fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Gently lower in four eggs (saving two for the coating) and cook for six minutes. Lift out using a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of iced water to cool completely. Carefully peel the eggs (they will feel soft so be gentle) and set aside.
2. Add the oil to a medium frying pan over a low heat and fry the shallots for 5-8 minutes or until softened. Add the peas and cook until defrosted, about two minutes. Tip into a food processor with the mint leaves and season to taste. Blitz until to a rough paste.
3. Scrape the mixture out into a bowl and mix in the Pecorino. Leave to cool.
4. In the palm of your hand, flatten a heaped tablespoon of the cooled pea mixture. Put a peeled egg in the centre and carefully push up the edges of the mixture to cover and enclose the egg.
5. Carefully roll into a ball and repeat with the other three peeled eggs and pea mixture. Place on a baking tray or plate, loosely cover and chill for 30 minutes to firm up.
6. Put the flour in a shallow dish. Beat the remaining two eggs together in another dish and spread out the breadcrumbs in a third.
7. Roll each ball first in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs to coat.
8. Preheat a deep-fat fryer to 180°C. Carefully lower in the eggs (you may have to cook one at a time or in batches to stop the oil temperature from dropping too much) and fry for 2-3 minutes or until crispy and golden brown all over. Scoop out onto a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain any excess oil.
9. Sprinkle with a little salt and serve warm.

Full recipe video here: Gordon Ramsay Academy

Printable recipe here: Pea Scotch Eggs Recipe | Gordon Ramsay Academy

Sally Codling’s asparagus, cheese & herb salad

This hearty salad from Chef Sally is packed with fresh herbs to give it tons of flavour, while the addition of punchy blue cheese and bulgur wheat make it feel like a substantial meal in itself. Celebrate new-season asparagus in spring and early summer, or you can use courgettes, green beans, peas or cucumber as alternatives.


• 150g bulghur wheat
• 250ml water
• Sea salt
• 1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 2-3cm lengths
• 75g pumpkin seeds
• Large handful of parsley, roughly chopped
• Large handful of mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped
• 200g Gorgonzola (optional)
• Pecorino, to serve (optional)

For the dressing

• Zest and juice of two lemons
• 100ml olive oil
• 1tsp Dijon mustard
• 1tsp runny honey


1. Add the bulghur wheat and water to a pan, season well with salt and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and take it off the heat. Leave to sit for 20 minutes.
2. Once all the water has been absorbed, take the lid off the pan and allow to cool.
3. Fill another pan with water, season with salt, bring to the boil and blanch the asparagus for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
4. Mix together all the dressing ingredients (in a bowl or pop in jam jar and shake together).
5. Mix the asparagus, pumpkin seeds and chopped herbs through the bulghur wheat.
6. Pour over the dressing and toss well. Crumble over the Gorgonzola in rough chunks and shave a little Pecorino over the top with a vegetable peeler. Ready to serve alongside any barbecue!

Full recipe video here: Gordon Ramsay Academy


Chef Sally’s four-ingredient Caipirinha


• One lime
• 2 tbsp caster sugar
• 50ml Cachaça
• Ice cubes


Slice the lime into quarters, add it to your glass with the sugar and Cacahça. Muddle, top with ice and serve!

Full recipe video here: Gordon Ramsay Academy

Printable recipe here: Caipirinha Recipe

David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny in Woking

Liz Nicholls


David Walliams answers some questions ahead of the theatre adaptation of his book landing at New Victoria Theatre in Woking from Wednesday 9th February to Saturday 12th February

Calling all families! The coolest Granny around is coming to Woking from Wednesday 9th February to Saturday 12th February.

The West End production of David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny is being brought to Woking by the producers of the hit stage shows, Horrible Histories and Billionaire Boy.

Inspired by Walliams’ own granny the show follows Ben as he dreads going to stay with his cabbage-obsessed granny every Friday. But what Ben doesn’t know is that Granny has a secret – and Friday nights are about to get more exciting than he could ever imagine, as he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime with his very own Gangsta Granny!

David Walliams Q&A:

Q. What inspired Gangsta Granny?

“When I was a child I would spend lots of time with my grandmas. Sometimes I would selfishly think spending time with them could be boring but when I got them on a subject like living in London during World War II when bombs were raining down, they would become very animated and I would be enthralled. I realised everyone has a story to tell.”

Q. What were your grannies like and are there any elements of their characters in Gangsta Granny?

“There was definitely a smell of cabbages in one of my grandmas’ houses. The other did break wind like a duck quacking when she walked across the room.”

Q. Many people would say there’s a special bond between children and their grandparents, why do you think that is?

“I think grandparents love being grandparents because they get to give the children back to the parents! Children love spending time with their grandparents because they love hearing their stories and being allowed to stay up past their bedtime.”

Q. When did you decide to write children’s fiction and what encouraged you?

“Ten years ago I had an idea for a story. What if a boy went to school dressed as a girl? I thought it would be a thought-provoking children’s book. That became The Boy in the Dress, the first of my children’s novels.”

Q. What are the delights of writing children’s fiction?

“The only limitation in a children’s book is your imagination. You can take children on magical journeys in books that many adults would be reluctant to go on.”

Q. And the challenges of writing for children?

“Children love to be scared but it can’t be too horrifying. Children love to laugh but it can’t be too rude. You always have to be the right side of the line.”

Q. You’ve often talked about Roald Dahl, what do you think makes him special?

“I think Dahl’s books always feel a little bit forbidden. He manages to balance the humour and scary elements in his stories perfectly.”

Q. Which Dahl books do you particularly like and why?

“The Twits is utterly hilarious and I love that it is a children’s book with no child characters.”

Q. Which other children’s writers did you enjoy as a child and why?

“I loved Dr Seuss books as a child, especially ‘Green Eggs and Ham’. His books are like nightmares come to life. They are rich and strange and utterly unlike anybody else’s work.”

Q. What do you think children enjoy in your books?

“I imagine they like the humour and that I don’t patronise them. I deal with quite big topics, crossdressing, homelessness, grief. I know children are a lot smarter than most grown-ups think.”

Q. What were your feelings on seeing Gangsta Granny adapted for the stage?

“It’s a huge thrill seeing Gangsta Granny have this whole new life on the stage. It has already been a TV film. People seem to really like the story. In fact, Gangsta Granny is my best-selling book by far and the stage production is brilliant.”

“There is lots of action in Gangsta Granny, especially when they try to steal the Crown Jewels.”

Q. Do you feel there are any particular challenges or difficulties with staging Gangsta Granny?

“There is lots of action in Gangsta Granny, especially when they try to steal the Crown Jewels – so it’s quite a challenge for the Birmingham Stage Company to bring those scenes to life, but they do it so wonderfully well.”

Q. Are there any scenes you particularly like seeing on stage?

“I like the characters of Ben’s mum and dad. Their obsession with ballroom dancing is very funny brought to life in the play.”

Q. Why were you keen to work with Birmingham Stage Company on the adaptation?

“I saw their Horrible Histories show which was superb. I loved the humour and the interaction with the audience, so I knew they were the right people to stage my book.

Q. What do you hope children will take away from watching Gangsta Granny on stage?

“The moral of the story is ‘don’t assume old people are boring just because they are old’. In fact, they are likely to have had a much more interesting life than yours. Talk to old folk, listen to their stories. They are bound to be full of magic and wonder.

Q. In what way do you think experiencing the stage show will differ from their experiences when reading the book?

“The great thing about seeing Gangsta Granny on stage is you will get to share it with an audience. So hopefully you will laugh and cry along with everyone else. That’s what makes theatre so special.”

Q. What do you think are the elements that make up a good theatrical production for children?

“Those for children need to be fun and fast-paced which Gangsta Granny certainly is.”

Q. Strictly Come Dancing raises its head in Gangsta Granny – would you like to be in the show and, if so, how do you rate your hopes of holding the glitter ball?

“I can’t dance at all (as you might have seen in the TV adaptation of Gangsta Granny when I tried to dance with Miranda Hart). So I would say my chances are less than zero.”

Gangsta Granny was adapted from David Walliams’ book by Neal Foster, actor-manager of Birmingham Stage Company. He has also directed the show. The show is suitable for ages 5+ and duration is about two hours.

Tickets from £13, fees apply. You can book tickets by calling the Box Office on 0844 871 7615 (Fees apply. Calls cost up to 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge), Groups Booking Line 0207 206 1174 or online at ATGTICKETS.COM/Woking (fees apply).

Let Birchgrove improve your life

Karen Neville


Birchgrove believe the home you live in should be as individual as you, find out what they can offer

When we think of retirement, most of us envision a lifestyle that allows us to socialise and take up new or forgotten hobbies. Yet, the reality is that many people in later life in the UK end up living an isolated life or are overwhelmed with everyday chores such as the upkeep of a large family home, which can lead to a drastic decline of a person’s health, wellbeing and quality of life. 

Glenda Jones from Woking was afraid that her mother, 90-year old Matilda, was facing exactly this scenario. She said: “My mother had no time doing the things that she really likes. Her quality of life could have been a lot better. We also became aware of the need for her to have people around her a bit more.” 

Determined to help her mother find a suitable property that could improve her overall lifestyle and wellbeing, the search led them to Birchgrove, the specialist developer of modern retirement communities for the over 65s. “I like the fact that they are communities of people not a collection of apartments,” Glenda adds.

You will never find two Birchgrove developments the same, because Birchgrove believe the place you call home should be as individual as the people and neighbourhood it sits within. Birchgrove makes sure that every community is not only future-designed to suit people’s needs as they age but has character to complement the local area. Thoughtful spaces that bring people together help forge communities where people feel grounded and at home. 

Apartment living has its perks; no lawns to mow or gardens to weed yet you can still enjoy the beautiful surrounding area from your own outside space as every apartment has its own balcony or patio. Great thought has gone into creating beautiful, shared spaces where people can enjoy company in the club room or snug bar or grab a bite to eat in the restaurant if they don’t feel like cooking. 

There’s also a wellness studio and beautiful landscaped gardens which include a greenhouse. Regular events and activities are readily available and form part of the friendly community everyone who lives in a Birchgrove community so enjoys. 

If you would like to find out more about living at a Birchgrove community contact the team who will happily talk through the options and tailor something that works to support your individual needs. Call 020 3929 5599 or visit

Star Q&A: Hayley Mills

Liz Nicholls


Oscar-winning actress Hayley Mills, 76, talks about life & loves ahead of starring in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre, 15th-19th November

Q. You’ve had such a varied career. What have been your highlights? “The first film I ever made was Tiger Bay with my father [John]; a masterclass in film acting. I didn’t go to drama school, which I probably should have done later, but I was lucky to work with some incredible actors, my father included. I’m also very proud of some of the plays and musicals over the years. I love a challenge because it frightens the life out of me.”

Q. Do you feel enough stories are being told about the older generation? “No. People think ‘old people are boring’. But I’m in my 70s and I don’t feel as if I am that age, and I realise that’s how other old people feel too. We don’t feel old at all. [Laughs] We just look it and that’s why we all avoid the mirror.”

Q. What attracted you to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? “I loved the script and there wasn’t a shadow of a doubt about wanting to do it. I love the play, the writing, the part and I’m mad about the director Lucy Bailey. It’s a wonderful play and Deborah Moggach is a great writer. Like most people, I had seen the film and there’s something about the story that just gets you. It’s very truthful. It’s a reminder that where there’s life there’s hope.”

There’s something about the story that just gets you. It’s very truthful. It’s a reminder that where there’s life there’s hope.

Q. Can you relate to Evelyn, the character you play? “Absolutely. She’s such a beautifully written character and I can relate to her age, plus the fact we all look back on our lives realising we’ve made mistakes. One of my least favourite songs is Frank Sinatra’s My Way. It’s so smug! Who can really say ‘Regrets, I have a few but then again too few to mention’? You’d have to be in your own very selfish bubble.”

Q. Dame Judi Dench played Evelyn in the film version. Is it daunting in her footsteps? “If I dwelled upon it then yes, but I don’t. I briefly thought about watching the film again but I decided ‘no’. She is such a wonderful actress and I couldn’t begin to play it the way she does. That’s what is so fascinating about this business: everyone brings their own experiences and understanding to a role. But Judi is a consummate actress. I could watch her all day, even reading the telephone directory.”

Q. Can you relate to the theme of starting over or have you had a pretty steady ride? “[Laughs] Come on! Life is not a steady ride for anybody. My goodness, there are peaks and valleys, ups and downs, feast and famine. You have to weather the storms.”

Q. Have you worked with any of your co-stars before? “I haven’t. I’ve known Rula [Lenska] for years from bumping into each other but I’ve never worked with her. I’ve seen Paul Nicholas’ work over the years but not worked with him either. It’s fun meeting people you’ve admired and getting to be in a show together.”

Q. What do you hope audiences take away from seeing the show? “I hope they’ll feel infused with optimism and hope about the future as well as the belief that life really is what you make it. There are so many things dragging us down in the world today. We’re going through dire straits but then when you look back over history you see what people went through in the First and Second World Wars, the Depression, what have you. The world has gone through some very tough times but I believe in the goodness of the human race.”

Get your tickets for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre

Tell us your local news here

Holme Farm community hub

Liz Nicholls


Ronnie Kendall is passionate about creating a community hub in the Woking area to help those with mental health issues and to combat loneliness.

The idea behind Holme Farm, Woodham, is to create a community hub with workshops and a café which also provide a safe haven for those with mental health issues and to combat loneliness.

There will be space for gardening, an orchard, bee-keeping, re-wilding and family areas for relaxing. Inside the ‘sheds’ there will be a café where people of all backgrounds and ages can meet and socialise, and courses will be organised for everything from crafting and creative activities to computer skills and woodworking.

In the longer term, it is hoped to involve local councils and assist with high child poverty and levels of loneliness in our boroughs. It is this that inspired the group of community-minded individuals including myself and my wife Christine to come together to try and secure derelict buildings and adjoining land, currently owned by DEFRA, in Woodham Park Road.

Loneliness causes mental illness. Recently there has been a heightened level of awareness around the issue of poor mental health and an urgent need to take positive action in tackling this issue, reducing the burden on the NHS and emergency services. Workshops are a simple way of helping with this growing problem.

It is hoped the Holme Farm project can start this year. It will be a place to pursue interests, to share and practice skills, enjoy making and mending and discuss anything. A community project to share knowledge, make social connections, build friendships – and of course a lot of laughter and tea!

To join the project sign up here or email [email protected]

Tell us your local news here

Review of Aladdin

Round & About


Review of Aladdin at the New Victoria Theatre Woking, by Lucy Barker

From the moment the curtain went up on Aladdin, my five-year-old was spellbound by the giant King Cobra snake that reared up at baddie Abanazar’s command. The thing was huge – it reached to the top of the stage and seemed to extend into the audience, complete with flashing eyes and sinuous body.

Next came the double act of David Phipps-Davis as Widow Twankey and Bobby Davro as Wishee Washee, old hats at panto, whose banter was a key feature of the production. Some of the comments were a bit adult for the children but the audience didn’t seem to mind. My son was particularly keen on the donkey derby that took place between ‘mother and son’ although the joke wore a bit thin for me.

As a lifelong Strictly Come Dancing Fan I was looking forward to seeing Brendan Cole, who didn’t disappoint as the Spirit of the Ring and completely overshadowed the special effects genie. I, like the rest of the audience, was entranced by the magic carpet ride taken by Aladdin (although my imagination was stretched a bit too far by the fact that only he got to take a ride, leaving his companions to just walk out of the cave!). This was a definite highlight as, like the snake, Aladdin flew over the audience as well as the stage.

CBBC favourite Mischa Eckersley did a good turn as Princess Jasmine and special mention must also got to Pearce Barro in the title role. The production also featured the talents of veteran ventriloquist Dawson Chance as Chief of Police.

Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable night out, from getting to sneak out at bedtime (his, not mine) with my son; to the display in the foyer of a monkey sneaking into the treasure cove; to obviously the production itself, which contained all the elements of a traditional Christmas pantomime.

The panto runs until 5th January 2020

For more information and tickets