Back again! Anita Dobson and Bernie Clifton return to Royal & Derngate for Cinderella panto

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British showbiz legends Anita Dobson and Bernie Clifton cannot wait to return to the Royal & Derngate having launched this year's pantomime at Delapre Abbey today (Tuesday, September 3).

The team behind last year's Peter Pan performance returns for Cinderella in December - with Anita and Bernie cast as the Wicked Stepmother and Cindie's father Baron Hardup.

Tommy Wallace and David Dale are also back as the classic dames, this time as the Ugly Sisters, but there is a new face with Charlotte Haines playing Cinderella.

Anita told the Chronicle & Echo: "As much as the audience has fun, we have a lot of fun doing it and I think that's crucial, which is why we've all come back and that's unusual.

"For the mainstay of a company to come back again, that says it all. That says, 'we had a great time and we loved it, we want to do it again.'

"So that's the best advertisement you can give to people to say come and see us."

READ MORE: 16 pictures of the Royal & Derngate's Cinderella panto launch at Delapre Abbey

Anita has been a household name for more than 30 years since she rose to fame as Angie Watts, the first landlady of the Queen Vic on EastEnders, as well as multiple stage credits, including Joan Crawford in Bette and Joan, which toured to Northampton.

Dressed in all-black in her stepmother costume, Anita said she was looking forward to being back in Northampton for the holiday season and making sure the audience 'boo' her.

"For me, I think to be a really good villain you have to be a happy, nice person (off stage) because it's the other side of the mask isn't it?" she said.

"So if the children love you, if you're funny, then the children really enjoy hating you as they know you're going to get your comeuppance as you've pushed yourself so high to a ridiculous place, you've got to come down.

"So that's the joy, waiting for that moment where they can jump up and down go, 'good you've got your comeuppance.'"

Making his name on shows TV shows such as The Comedians, The Good Old Days and Crackerjack, Bernie has appeared on stages up and down the country with his incomparable stand-up and music, not to mention his trusty friend Oswald the Ostrich.

He is just as excited to be back at the Derngate - but will Oswald be making a return too?

"There will be an ostrich, the ostrich will make an appearance at a certain, measured pace - he won't be galloping but he will appear," he told us.

"And there might even be some little baby ostriches but I don't want to give too much away."

READ MORE: 16 pictures of the Royal & Derngate's Cinderella panto launch at Delapre Abbey

Cinderella is staged by Qdos Entertainment, the world’s biggest pantomime producer and the team behind last year’s popular production of Peter Pan at Royal & Derngate.

Executive producer Jonathan Kiley said: “We are delighted that Anita will be playing the Wicked Stepmother for us this Christmas and that she will be joined by Bernie Clifton, Sid Sloane, Martyn James and the rest of our brilliant cast.

"With such a fantastic line-up in place Cinderella promises to be another unmissable Royal & Derngate pantomime full of laughs, music and magic.”

Packed with all of the traditional Northampton pantomime ingredients audiences have come to expect, Cinderella features stunning scenery, plenty of boos and hisses, incredible music and dancing ponies to ensure audiences will have a ball.

Tickets start at £11 and can be booked by calling the box office on 01604 624811 or by visiting www.royalandderngate.co.uk.

READ MORE: 16 pictures of the Royal & Derngate's Cinderella panto launch at Delapre Abbey