The anticipated return of American television legend Henry Winkler to the role of Captain Hook in Peter Pan takes place next week in Liverpool.

Familiar to millions for his TV role as the Fonz in Happy Days, Winkler made his UK stage debut when he stepped in as a replacement to David Hasslehoff for the part when it appeared at the New Wimbledon Theatre during Christmas 2006.

Now - three years later - the same production company which cast Winkler in the part, First Family Entertainment, and also produced last year’s Liverpool Empire pantomime Cinderella, has the American teaming up with some familiar scousers in its new production based on J. M. Barrie’s original concept.

Speaking about his appearance in Liverpool during this festive season, Winkler said: “I am so excited to be returning to the UK to appear in Peter Pan. I hear that the Liverpool Empire is one of the most beautiful theatres in the country and it will be a pleasure to perform there. I really look forward to meeting the people of Liverpool...so hook your tickets now to board the Jolly Roger.

“We will know if you don’t come and we will come to your house and look for you. We open on 11 December.”

Playing the title role in this new production of Peter Pan will be former Atomic Kitten member Natasha Hamilton (See Interview, 22 Sept 2009), who makes her stage debut.

Although he will be doing battle against the pop star on stage, Winkler couldn’t help but turn on his Fonz charm the other week when the two got together to promote the show. He said: “Have you ever seen such a fabulous Peter? She’s a wow!”

Added to the star billing is Les Dennis (See Interview, 15 Oct 2009) who makes a return to panto duties having starred alongside fellow Liverpudlian Cilla Black in Cinderella at the same theatre last Christmas. Dennis plays the Darling’s family cook, which is a new character, invented to comply with the panto dame tradition.

It’s been another busy year on the stage for Dennis, who married for the third time last Monday after tying the knot with life coach Claire Nicholson, whom he met four years ago and who he has a 19-month old daughter with called Eleanor Grace.

Making an appearance in Peter Pan will also be local radio personality Rick Vaughn as Starkey the Pirate.

Peter Pan opens at the Liverpool Empire theatre on Friday 11 December this year and runs until Sunday 3 January 2010. Tickets cost £13.50-£26.