Roger Lloyd Pack (pictured) will make his pantomime debut in Dick Whittington and His Cat at the Barbican this Christmas. The first panto written by playwright Mark Ravenhill and the first produced at the Barbican – in fact, only the centre’s third in-house production overall - it runs from 5 December 2006 (previews from 29 November) to 20 January 2007 (See News, 9 Dec 2005).

Lloyd Pack, who plays Sarah the Cook, is best known for his TV roles as Trigger in Only Fools and Horses’ and, more recently, Owen Newitt in The Vicar of Dibley. His stage credits include The Winterling (Royal Court), Wild Honey (National), Blue/Orange and One for the Road. His films include Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Commenting on his new role, Lloyd Pack said: “I’ve always wanted to play a Dame, and when I read the script I knew that Sarah the Cook was the girl for me – it’s just such a great story with something for all the family. Also, it’s the only panto that’s set in London and that was part of the appeal, although we do sail to Morocco after the interval where I dance the Dance of the Seven Veils.”

Lloyd Pack will be joined in the cast by Sam Kelly as Alderman Fitzwarren. Kelly appeared opposite Ian McKellen in his panto dame debut in Aladdin at the Old Vic in 2004. His other recent stage credits include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (National), Toast, Under the Whaleback (Royal Court), Dead Funny and HMS Pinafore (West End).

For the Ravenhill premiere, the Barbican has also assembled a crack creative team led by director Edward Hall (Edmond, Once in a Lifetime, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the National, Propeller’s Rose Rage and others), designer Michael Howells and musical director Sarah Travis, who earlier this year won a Tony Award for her arrangements for the Watermill production of Sweeney Todd on Broadway. Ravenhill’s other plays include Shopping and Fucking, The Cut, Mother Clap’s Molly House, Some Explicit Polaroids, Handbag and, touring this autumn, Pool (No Water).

Meanwhile, following its inaugural season in 2005, First Family Entertainment has announced star line-ups from the worlds of musical theatre, film, TV and comedy for its upcoming productions of Aladdin, Cinderella, Mother Goose, Peter Pan and Jack and the Beanstalk.

In Woking, Dallas star Patrick Duffy tops the bill in Cinderella, alongside Susan Hampshire, who played the Fairy Godmother in First Family’s production of the same classic fairy tale in Wimbledon last year. Coronation Street’s Bradley Walsh stars alongside EastEndersKacey Ainsworth in Cinderella in Milton Keynes.

In Brighton, Toyah Willcox stars in Aladdin. Also in Aladdin, but this time in Glasgow, are Gerard Kelly (whose TV roles include Brookside, Dalziel and Pascoe, EastEnders, Taggart and Extras) and Julie Wilson Nimmo (Balamory). And starring in Aladdin in Stoke are TV presenter Jonathan Wilkes and Coronation Street’s Vicky Entwistle.

Children’s TV presenter Stephen Mulhern as well as Jeff Hordley and Freya Copeland from Emmerdale star in Mother Goose in Bromley, while Coronation Street stars John Savident and Suranne Jones, who won this year’s Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress for her West End performance opposite Rob Lowe in A Few Good Men See News, 30 Nov 2005), lead the cast of Snow White in Manchester.

Roger Lloyd Pack's Only Fools and Horses co-stars John Challis and Sue Holderness head the cast of Jack and the Beanstalk in Richmond, and comedian Bobby Davro and children’s TV presenter Sarah Jane Honeywell star in Peter Pan in Wimbledon.

First Family Entertainment is a joint venture formed by Howard Panter for the Ambassador Theatre Group and David Ian for Live Nation. First Family Entertainment is led by producer Kevin Wood.

- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock