Cannon and Ball ready for Dick Whittington panto at Lincoln Theatre Royal
It will be all hands on deck for this year's panto at the Lincoln Theatre Royal, with iconic double act Cannon and Ball returning for their fourth season.
The slapstick comedy duo will be playing the roles of the Captain and his First Mate in a production of Dick Whittington, which runs from December 7 until January 13.
The pair said it was the support from Lincoln crowds which kept them coming back year after year.
"It's our fourth year doing panto in Lincoln and we love it, otherwise we wouldn't keep coming back," said Tommy Cannon.
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"The experience is just an absolute joy from start to end.
"The panto is a very British tradition and it needs to keep going as long as possible.
"It's also a great way to get kids interested in the theatre because they really believe in the story and the characters, although we find it's the adults that shout out just as much as the kids do."
This year Cannon and Ball are also celebrating their 50th year as a double act, making them one of the longest running acts in showbiz.
But despite their experience, the pair admit they still suffer from pre-stage jitters before the curtain rises.
"We're still together and we can still stand each other – just about," joked Bobby Ball.
"We don't get the nerves quite like we used to but there can be a bit of apprehension.
"But once we hear that first reaction from the crowd it really gets us going.
"As long as Lincoln keeps wanting us, we'll keep coming back.
"We'll be doing a couple of classic Cannon and Ball sketches from the TV days but it's been so long since we've done some of them that they're going to feel completely new.
"We'll also be writing some new material for the show and we try to make it different and topical each night. It was brilliant for us when they cancelled the Christmas market because there was lots of material."
They will be joined in the cast by Nicola Weeks, playing Dick Whittington, Steve Barclay, as Sarah the Cook, and soap-opera bad boy Peter Amory, who will take to the stage as the villainous King Rat.
"He's not a nice character, but I prefer playing the baddies," said Amory, best-known as Chris Tate from ITV's Emmerdale.
"They're far more interesting but they always lose in the end, so I try not to take it all to heart.
"It's going to be my first panto in Lincoln and I'm really looking forward to spending Christmas here. I'm in love with the place."
Ian Dickens, Lincoln Theatre Royal's artistic director, urged people to buy their tickets early to avoid disappointment.
He said: "The panto is selling very well and we've sold roughly 5,000 tickets already.
"Panto is the first thing you ever see in the theatre so we have a duty to create something that's right for children.
"The biggest problem in theatre at the moment is getting young people in.
"But this theatre has always had a great tradition with its panto and we want to keep that going."
Tickets for Dick Whittington are on sale now. For more, visit www.lincolntheatreroyal.com or call 01522 519999.