Customs House panto stars in line for national honours

Bosses at The Customs House are hoping to scoop a hat-trick of awards at panto’s answer to the Oscars this weekend.

Thursday, 25th April 2019, 9:51 am
Updated Thursday, 25th April 2019, 9:59 am
Matt Fox (kneeling, left) and Paul Shriek (kneeling, right) with the cast of Beauty and the Beast.

Last year’s pantomime, Beauty and the Beast, has been nominated in three categories in The Great British Pantomime Awards 2019.

The winners will be announced in a ceremony at the New Wimbledon Theatre in London on Sunday evening, hosted by panto legend Christopher Biggins.

David John Hopper as Arbuthnot.

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Five finalist have been selected in 27 categories by a team of judges who took in more than 200 professional shows in theatres of all sizes.

Newcastle-based Fox and Shriek, the design duo behind The Customs House’s annual pantomime, are up for Best Staging and Set.

Paul Shriek, who has worked with the venue for the last 10 years and collaborates with Matt Fox, took home the award for Best Costume Design at last year’s ceremony and will present

an award at the event this year.

Cutlet played by Charlie Raine, Dame Bella, played by Ray Spencer and Arbuthnot, played by David John Hopper.

He said: “Winning Best Costume last year was an amazing thrill.

“To be nominated again this year, Fox and Shriek are once again blown away at the judge’s choice in us.

"We feel like a curveball that hits out to prove that pantomime is all about original, exciting design, which creates a world for all the family to escape into and let their imaginations run wild."

David John Hopper, who is originally from Consett but now lives in South Shields, received a nod for Best Comic for his portrayal as Dame Bella’s affable son Arbuthnot.

He said: “I’m really excited to go to the awards and support The Customs House.

"I can’t wait to be in a room with so many people I look up to.”

And Sunderland actor Charlie Raine, who is hearing impaired, has been shortlisted in the Best Pantomime Animal category for her portrayal of signing sheep Cutlet.

She said: “I am so excited for The Great British Pantomime Awards this weekend and so proud to be representing The Customs House.

“Cutlet the signing sheep was an absolute delight to play, but also an important step in raising deaf awareness within pantomime."

The trio and their supporters are heading to the capital for the industry-recognised awards, which are now in their third year.

Ray Spencer, executive director of The Customs House, who co-writes, directs and stars as Dame Bella in the annual panto, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have not one, not two but three nominations this year.

"I’m so proud of them all.

“A huge congratulations to our panto cast and everybody involved in Beauty and the Beast.”

This year’s panto is Snow White and tickets are on sale now.

Contact the box office on 0191 454 1234 or visit