Last night (2 July 2008, previews from 23 June) at the Palace Theatre, Sanjeev Bhaskar made his West End musical debut by donning King Arthur’s crown in Spamalot. Bhaskar is the final monarch to be cast in the West End production of the Monty Python musical, which finishes on 3 January 2009, before embarking on a UK tour next April (See News, 2 Jun 2008).

Bhaskar, the first Asian actor to play the role, follows in the footsteps of Tim Curry, Simon Russell Beale, Peter Davison and Alan Dale and, on his first night, was cheered on by Meera Syal, his wife and TV co-star in Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at No. 42, as well as former Python Terry Jones (pictured above with Bhaskar).

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For Whatsonstage.com Photos, our photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for the Spamalot curtain call at the Palace Theatre and the post-show party at Teatro, along with the company, Jones, Syal and other first-night guests including Richard E Grant, Tamsin Greig, Maria Friedman and Jatinder Verma.

“Lovingly ripped off” from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, it tells the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in their quest to find the religious relic – and features a chorus line of dancing divas (with serfs), flatulent Frenchmen, killer rabbits and a legless knight.

Spamalot has a book and lyrics by original Python Eric Idle, who has also co-written the music with John Du Prez. The London production, which opened on 16 October 2006 (previews from 30 September), reunites the Broadway creative team including director Mike Nichols and set and costume designer Tim Hatley. The three-time Tony Award-winning Spamalot opened in March 2005 at Broadway’s Shubert Theater, where it’s still running.

The current London cast also features Swedish reality TV winner Nina Soderquist (as the Lady of the Lake), Ross Dawes (Sir Robin), Gerard Carey (Herbert), Michael Xavier (Sir Dennis Galahad), Andrew Spillett (Patsy), Adam Stafford (Sir Bedevere) and Jake Nightingale (Sir Lancelot).

-by Terri Paddock