The stars of this year’s Bournemouth Pavilion Pantomime, Cinderella, were at The Crab in Bournemouth on Wednesday to officially launch the resort’s pantomime season. Bournemouth Pavilion and CBeebies favourite Chris Jarvis (Show Me Show Me), who returns to direct and star in his fifth panto in the town, was joined by Amanda Barrie (Coronation Street and Bad Girls), Tim Dixon (CITV’s Fingertips), David Perry (local radio DJ) and Sophia Thierens (Red Dwarf).

Jarvis has been busy touring the country with his CBeebies co-star Pui Fan Lee, and delighting young audiences with their enthusiastic brand of songs, sketches, games and audience participation. It is the ability to mix music and visual comedy which appeals to Chris, and keeps him firmly rooted in the world of children’s entertainment. He professes a love for Variety, an element he can explore in panto, which is sadly missing in television and theatre today. An avid fan of old British comedy shows and movies, Chris injects the warmth, humour and family feel of those more innocent times into his pantomimes, and as director, enjoys making Christmas as special for the youngsters in the cast as the audience out front. He has a home in Bournemouth, so performing in his home town allows him an all-to-rare opportunity not to be on the road, and is delighted to have been invited back again this Christmas.

Amanda Barrie is no stranger to pantomime either, having made her first stage appearance – co-incidentally in the same role - as Fairy Godmother in Cinderella - at the age of 3, and her west end panto debut in Babes in the Woods in 1961. She has fond memories of appearing alongside many of the great panto performers of that era. At the age of 16, Amanda danced at the Windsor Club alongside Danny La Rue and Barbara Windsor and throughout the 1960s worked on stage in many productions, such as Cabaret, Private Lives, Hobson's Choice, A Public Mischief, Six Of One, She Loves Me, and Little by Little. In 1963 Amanda was cast in a small role - that of a glamorous taxi driver - in Carry On Cabby, which in turn lead to her title role in Carry On Cleo – a part which required her to bathe naked in ‘asses milk’ and create an iconic cinematic image that endures to this day in the memories of many a young - and not so young - lad! She is enormously grateful to the Carry Ons, and proud to have been a part of something that still means so much to so many people.

“Carry On” Producer Peter Rogers and Director Gerald Thomas were famous for always bringing in their movies on time (6 weeks from start to finish) and on budget, so there was little time to relax and enjoy working with such a talented cast. Amanda does remember that they were allowed to have fun – but they always had to be fast – seven minutes of footage had to be completed every day, no matter what - and she absolutely adored Sid James.

By the late seventies Amanda had fallen out of love with pantomime, feeling they had become steadily less family-orientated, and filled with ‘celebrities’ not trained or suited to theatre. In 1981, Coronation Street - and Alma Sedgwick (later Baldwin) beckoned, and she became a regular in Britain’s favourite soap opera.

Not unlike the “Carry Ons”, there was a strong family feel amongst the cast, and the pace at which they had to work was immense. In 2001, Amanda decided to leave Coronation Street - the weekly commute to Manchester (from her home in London) and the long hours (regularly filming four or five episodes a week) had been arduous, and Amanda was ready for other challenges - admitting to having asked to be ‘killed off’ so there was no danger of her being tempted back.

She re-discovered pantomime, and was delighted to find it had returned to good, quality, family entertainment, adapted to engage with the modern audience, full of children brought up with interactive media, delighting in the participation, ready and willing to join in with the fun. Feedback from a live audience, especially in pantomime, thrills Amanda, who now enjoys a mixture of both TV and theatre work. She says herself that she was lucky and is enormously proud to have been associated with two such important and beloved contributions to Britain’s cultural heritage (The “Carry Ons” and “Corrie”) and for the opportunities they have presented.

This year’s Bournemouth Pavilion Pantomime is once again presented by UK Productions following consecutive record-breaking seasons in 2008 with Peter Pan, and last year’s smash hit Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. Also starring this year is Tom Owen, son of the late Bill Owen and star of Last of the Summer Wine.

Cinderella opens on Saturday 4 December and runs until Sunday 2 January.