Gray O'Brien is one of Coronation Street's most memorable bad guys. As Tony Gordon he has been at the centre of some of the most thrilling storylines. So, it's only fitting that he has been cast in the Opera House panto, Aladdin as the villain of the piece.

Gray plays evil Uncle Abanazar. Current Corrie stars are not permitted to star in pantos, whilst still in the street. But O'Brien had agreed to star in the panto, prior to producers asking him to extend his stay, as part of a current storyline.  

A Coronation Street producer explains: “Gray had been due to leave Corrie later this year, and so had arranged the role in panto. But scriptwriters went back to Gray to ask him to extend his contract as they have come up with another exciting storyline for his character. 

Chris Fountain, star of Hollyoaks and Dancing On Ice is also in this family first production, playing ther title role. Dinnerladies' Su Devaney and Eric Potts (another star of Coronation Street) also feature in the cast.

As well as Aladdin, Manchester audiences can also see The Sound Of Music, White Christmas, Dad's Army, Blithe Spirit and Grimm Tales this Christmas.