The Customs House, South Shields has launched its pantomime – and it promises to be the biggest and best ever.

The “little panto with the big heart” has unveiled its cast for Sleeping Beauty and it is a mix of old and new faces that will help kick off the celebrations for the venue’s fifteenth birthday.

Of course no panto would be complete without Ray Spencer and Bob Stott, and they will once again lead the madness and mayhem as Tommy and Dame Dotty.Despite being having over 30 years of pantomime experience, their enthusiasm for the Christmas extravaganza shows no sign of waning.

Bob Stott said: “I thought about calling it a day once, but Dotty is not only a key part of my Christmas but also for the thousands of people who come to see the show. I love the feeling of knowing I have helped make people’s Christmas’ a special one and that’s what keeps me going.”

Ray Spencer, who not only writes and stars in the show but is the venue’s Executive Director said: “I love being Tommy and the joy he brings to the kids (young and old!) so I love this time of the year.”

Also among the returning stars will be Peter Darrant as the evil Lord Chancellor, who will celebrate his fifteenth year in pantomime – at the venue where it all started.

“I came up North to do the very first Customs House pantomime and have lived up here ever since, so I have a lot to thank the show for. I am delighted to be involved as the baddy once again - it is a great part of play because I get to be nasty to everyone.”

Graham Overton will also make a welcome return as the shy King of Jarra – and will be joined on stage by a furry friend- his lucky teddy bear.

Following her hugely successful debut last year as Goldilock’s Lucy Rafton will tread the boards again when she takes the role of Princess Primrose of Jarra.

The cast is completed by debutants Afnan Iftikhar (Prince Walter of Howden) and award winning actress Helen Embleton who will play The Wicked Witch.

When asked what people can expect from this year’s show, Spencer added, “We are also planning a very special surprise involving two dragons, but I won’t give too much about that away…but it is going to be fantastic!”

Sleeping Beauty runs from Wednesday 2 December 2009 until Sunday 3 January 2010. Tickets start at £6.50 and are available by calling the Box Office on 0191 454 1234 or online at www.customshouse.co.uk