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Basil brushes up his lines for panto launch

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 11, 2012

Ben Nickless who will play Simple Simon in the panto Dick Whittington at Plymouth

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Fur flew as a fox got loose in the Lord Mayor's Parlour – and took exception to the Plymouth civic leader's robes.

"I think you are wearing an auntie of mine," Basil Brush told Lord Mayor Michael Wright.

The children's favourite was in Plymouth yesterday as the Theatre Royal launched this year's pantomime during a visit to Elliot Terrace.

The grand setting was the perfect backdrop for the seasonal show, which has a mayoral theme: Dick Whittington.

Veteran actor Christopher Biggins, who plays Sarah the Cook, joined Basil (Alderman Foxwarren), Devon-resident comedian Ben Nickless (Simple Simon) and all-rounder Sam Cassidy (Dick) in costumes that made Mr Wright's official garb look like dress-down Friday wear.

Christopher's modest number was a primrose-yellow creation decorated with a 3-D full English breakfast, extra strings of sausages and vine tomatoes, topped with a straw hat featuring a nesting hen.

Basil was more interested in the bling than the bird, though. "I like the look of that medal," he said, pointing to the Lord Mayor's chain of office. "Is it from the Olympics?"

For panto dame Christopher – best known most recently for being crowned king of the jungle in ITV1's I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! – the show is a welcome return to Plymouth and the Theatre Royal after playing Wishee Washee, in Aladdin, three years ago.

"It is marvellous to be back," he said. "The Theatre Royal is the premier modern theatre in England. The setting is wonderful. It is a gorgeous city."

Executive producer Jonathan Kiley promised an "unmissable" show. "Plymouth has never seen a pantomime on this scale before," he said.

"We have few surprises. The audience will never have seen anything like the flying in act two."

Jonathan works for Qdos, which will stage 24 pantomimes around the UK at Christmas. He also singled out the city theatre for special praise. "It is a fantastic venue. The facilities are amazing, from the rehearsal and production centre (TR2) to the wardrobe department and the green room. There are no better facilities anywhere. The city is very lucky."

Dick Whittington will run from Friday, December 14, to Saturday, January 19.

Tickets are from £10 and are available on 01752 267222 or at www.theatreroyal.com/panto.

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