Customs House panto casting

Peter Lathan

South Shields Customs House has announced the cast for its 2017/18 panto, The Lambton Worm.

This year is the 150th anniversary of the song which tells the story of the Lambton Worm, a legend about Lord John Lambton who went fishing in the River Wear near Chester-le-Street and caught a very unusual ugly "fish" which he decided he didn’t want to eat so he threw it down the well.

He went off to fight in the Crusades and while he was away “the worm got fat and growed and growed an awful size. It had geet big teeth and geet big gob and gee big goggly eyes.” It terrorised the neighbourhood; it would even “swally (swallow) little bairns alive when they lay doon to sleep.”

Eventually, word of these terrible goings-on reached brave and bold Sir John in Palestine and he came home and killed the beast and that “soon stopped it eatin’ bairns an’ lambs an’ sheeps an’ calves.”

The show has been written by the regular panto writing team of Ray Spencer (who also directs and stars) and Graeme Thompson to celebrate the anniversary.

As ever, Spencer will play Dame, this year castle cook Dame Bella Ballcock, and her useless son, Arbuthnot Hopper, will be played by David John Hopper who made his first Customs House panto appearance last year in Jack and the Beanstalk.

They will be joined by another Customs House panto regular, Steven Lee Hamilton who, for the last three years, has played The Big Bad Wolf, The Mad Hatter and Fleshcreep, but this year returns to the role of Principal Boy as the brave and bold Sir John. His father, Lord Larry Lambton, will be played by comedian Cal Halbert, one half of Britain’s Got Talent’s The Mimic Men with BBC Radio Newcastle’s Alfie Joey, who is making his Customs House panto debut.

Another returning regular is Natasha Hawes making her fourth panto appearance as the Soothsayer. Also returning is Gareth Hunter as the Sultan.

A newcomer to the Customs House panto is Georgia Nicholson playing Poison Pen from Penshaw. She has appeared appeared at the venue before, in The Dolly Mixtures and Ion Productions’ The Cinder Path.

Last year’s Fairy, Eleanor Chaganis, returns to play the Princess and the cast is completed by Lewis Jobson who is making his Customs House debut as Puddles the dog.

Paul Shriek and Max Fox will once again design both costumes and sets and South Tyneside Dance Workshop will be providing the young dancers.

The Lambton Worm runs from Tuesday 28 November 2017 until Saturday 6 January 2018.