Lambton Worm tale to be reborn as pantomime in Customs House production

Cast members Ray Spencer, David John Hopper, Steven Lee Hamilton and  Georgia Nicholson
Cast members Ray Spencer, David John Hopper, Steven Lee Hamilton and Georgia Nicholson
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The ‘little panto with big heart’ will see some familiar faces when it is staged at The Customs House, South Shields.

The full cast for this year’s annual panto has been announced.

Ray Spencer as Dame Bella Ballcock and David John Hopper as Arbuthnot Hopper.

Ray Spencer as Dame Bella Ballcock and David John Hopper as Arbuthnot Hopper.

Hot on the heels of the hugely successful Jack and the Beanstalk, Ray Spencer and Graeme Thompson have written a very special pantomime to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the best-loved folk song, The Lambton Worm.

The performance will see The Brave and Bold Sir John battle the monster, save the day and win the heart of the beautiful princess - while wacky castle cook Dame Bella Ballcock and her useless son, Arbuthnot Hopper, wreak mayhem and run rings around Lord Larry Lambton.

This well-known north east tale will be brought to life in this fun-filled traditional pantomime, which will run from Tuesday, November 28, until Saturday, January 6, next year.

Ray, who also directs the show, has been part of The Customs House pantomime for over 20 years, starting out as Tommy the Trumpeter and in the last three years, firmly establishing himself as one of the region’s most loveable Dames.

This year he takes on the role of Dame Bella Ballcock, forming a formidable double act with David John Hopper, who returns for a second year of playing the Dame’s hapless son, Arbuthnot Hopper.

Steven Lee Hamilton plays The Brave and Bold Sir John, returning to the role of principal boy for the first time in three years.

Comedian Cal Halbert – one half of Britain’s Got Talent’s The Mimic Men – takes on the role of Lord Larry Lambton in his first north east panto.

Georgia Nicholson returns to The Customs House stage as Poison Pen from Penshaw and Natasha Haws will play the soothsayer in her fourth pantomime appearance.

Lewis Jobson, a newcomer to The Customs House panto, has been cast as Puddles the dog, while last year’s fairy, Eleanor Chaganis, will play the princess.

Gareth Hunter also returns to the pantomime as The Sultan, having played various characters over the years.

He is well known to The Customs House audiences as a member of Encore, as well as a producer and director in his own right.

More than 27,000 people came to see Jack and the Beanstalk last year and it’s hoped that The Lambton Worm, sponsored by Hays Travel, can build on that success.

For tickets, priced from £9.99, and show times, contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or

Visit www.customshouse.co.uk/theatre/the-lambton-worm.