Panto actor excited about performance with childhood hero in South Shields

A panto actor has told of his excitement as he gets ready to star alongside his childhood hero in South Shields.

Saturday, 25th November 2017, 8:00 am
Updated Saturday, 25th November 2017, 9:03 am
David John Hopper, as Arbuthnot, with Ray Spencer as Dame Bella Ballcock.

David John Hopper, who is originally from Consett but now lives in South Shields, is to appear in The Lambton Worm, at the Customs House, from Tuesday.

The 24-year-old made his panto debut in Jack and the Beanstalk last year as Arbuthnot, the hapless son of Dame Bella Ballcock, played by Ray Spencer.

Lewis Jobson as Puddles the Dog.

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David was a huge fan of Ray’s other alter-ego, Tommy the Trumpeter, as a child.

He said: “I used to come and watch the Customs House panto every year.

“My mam would drive me up every Christmas because I loved Tommy the Trumpeter, so this is the job I wanted.”

After last year’s panto, David starred in two spin-off shows as Arbuthnot, and will do so again in 2018.

David John Hopper, as Arbuthnot, and Lewis Jobson as Puddles the Dog,

The first one is scheduled for the February half-term, with his The Lambton Worm co-star Puddles the Dog.

David is now hoping his panto partnership with Ray will prove as popular as the one Ray shared with Bob Stott, who played the Dame alongside Tommy the Trumpeter for almost 40 years.

He added: “Last year I was worried and nervous at first, but we found a nice balance early on in the run and I think it just kind of clicked really. One reviewer compared Ray and I to Ray and Bob in their prime and that was just the biggest compliment I could ever receive.

“It feels like a dream.

Lewis Jobson, who plays Puddles.

“I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not in the audience, I’m on stage.”

David’s other partnership will be with Lewis Jobson, who plays Puddles.

Lewis said: “I’m so excited. Some of my friends have taken part in The Customs House panto in previous years and it always looked like they were having so much fun, so when Ray asked me to join the cast of The Lambton Worm, I couldn’t turn it down.”

The Lambton Worm, sponsored by Hays Travel, runs from Tuesday to Saturday, January 6, 2018.

Lewis Jobson as Puddles the Dog.

Tickets, priced from £9.99, are available from the box office on 0191 454 1234 or online at

David John Hopper, as Arbuthnot, and Lewis Jobson as Puddles the Dog,
Lewis Jobson, who plays Puddles.