South Shields venue reveals the line-up for this year’s panto

Group pic caption: The Sultan (Gareth Hunter), The Princess (Eleanor Chaganis), Arbuthnot'(David John Hopper), Dame Bella Ballcock (Ray Spencer), Lord Larry Lambton (Cal Halbert),'Susie Soothsayer from Southwick (Natasha Haws) and (front) Puddles the Dog (Lewis'Jobson).
Group pic caption: The Sultan (Gareth Hunter), The Princess (Eleanor Chaganis), Arbuthnot'(David John Hopper), Dame Bella Ballcock (Ray Spencer), Lord Larry Lambton (Cal Halbert),'Susie Soothsayer from Southwick (Natasha Haws) and (front) Puddles the Dog (Lewis'Jobson).

With just three months to go until Christmas its time to get excited about this year’s Customs House panto - The Lambton Worm.

There’s something for all the family to enjoy at the hilarious re-telling of one of the region’s most famous pieces of folklore.

Wayne Miller as Elfluent in Santa's Naughty Elf.

Wayne Miller as Elfluent in Santa's Naughty Elf.

The Lambton Worm, sponsored by Hays Travel, runs from Tuesday, November 28, 2017, until Saturday, January 6, 2018.

Penned by Ray Spencer, executive director of The Customs House, and Graeme Thompson - a former broadcaster and Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Sunderland, it has been written in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the folk song The Lambton Worm.

The song, written in 1867, tells the legend of the brave Sir John Lambton, who returns home from war to slay a ferocious beast who has been terrorising the villages around the Lambton estate, gobbling up livestock and small children.

The beast, said to have wrapped itself around Penshaw Hill when full, is slain after Sir John seeks the guidance of a local witch, but he fails to follow her instructions to the letter, leaving the family cursed for nine generations.

Group of four caption: Dame Bella Ballcock (Ray Spencer), Arbuthnot (David John Hopper),'The Brave and Bold Sir John (Steven Lee Hamilton) and Poison Pen from Penshaw (Georgia'Nicholson).

Group of four caption: Dame Bella Ballcock (Ray Spencer), Arbuthnot (David John Hopper),'The Brave and Bold Sir John (Steven Lee Hamilton) and Poison Pen from Penshaw (Georgia'Nicholson).

Mr Spencer, who also directs the show and stars as Dame Bella Ballcock, said: “I think it is really important that some of our traditional folk tales are passed on to new generations.

“At a time when so much is changing, being able to tell this story and have children interested in places like Penshaw Monument and Penshaw Hill, and getting them to go out and about and see these places, is something we should celebrate.

“Of course, we should recognise that the original song was written for pantomime, so we will celebrate that 150th anniversary.”

Dame Bella, the castle cook, is joined in the kitchen by her hapless son Arbuthnot, played by David John Hopper, who returns to the panto for a second year.

Steven Lee Hamilton also returns as The Brave and Bold Sir John, taking after three years of playing the villain.

Eleanor Chaganis takes on the role as the princess, while Natasha Haws will play Susie Soothsayer from Southwick.

Georgia Nicholson plays her sister, Poison Pen from Penshaw. Gareth Hunter also returns to the pantomime as The Sultan, while comedian and one half of Britain’s Got Talent’s The Mimic Men, Cal Halbert, and Lewis Jobson make their debuts as Lord Larry Lambton and Puddles the Dog.

Designers Paul Shriek and Max Fox have worked their magic on the costumes and sets and South Tyneside Dance Workshop are back to provide the dancers.

But it’s not just ‘The Little Panto with the Big Heart’ that draws in the crowds over the festive period at The Customs House.

Santa’s Naughty Elf, starring Wayne Miller as the mischievous Elfluent, is also back in A Christmas Carol, a new 60-minute show aimed at the under-sevens, from Saturday, December 2, until Christmas Eve.

Other events include a Christmas Murder Mystery on Monday, December 11 and A Christmas Carol: A Folk Opera, on Wednesday, December 13, both in Daltons Suite from 7.30pm.

Christmas Swing with Danny Reed takes place on Thursday, December 14, at 7pm and Angela’s Festiva Frolics returns on Monday, December 18, at 2pm.

There will screenings of Miracle on 34th Street and Elf, from December 4 to 7 and December 20 to 24.

And Jason Cook’s New Year’s Eve Comedy Club returns on New Years Eve on Sunday, December 31, at 7.30pm.

Tickets for The Lambton Worm are priced from £9.99 and the Christmas Eve performances are already sold out.

Tickets for Santa’s Naughty Elf: A Christmas Carol start at £10.

For more information and tickets contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or visit: www.customshouse.co.uk.