Globe theatre critic Peter Grant sees actress, singer and TV presenter Claire Sweeney cast her Scouse spell at the launch of her forthcoming Wirral panto...

Claire Sweeney couldn't be happier - she has already received the best Christmas gift she could have hoped for.

A panto in New Brighton - a venue where her amazing show biz career has sparkled and where she will celebrate a few festive family get-togethers.

She joined Brookside as Lindsay Corkhill in 1991 and went on to a successful stage and screen career after the soap ended in 2003.

Now, at 48, she is looking forward to a cracking 2020.

Focused and enjoying career stability she says 'life is good.'

At the launch of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from Martin Dodd and UK Productions at the Floral Pavilion, Claire told the Globe she is in 'a good place': ''I am genuinely falling in love with panto all over again.

''I remember playing the Floral with Billy Butler and Wally Scott and Margi Clarke.

''It is a place that has so many special memories for me - singing with the Birkenhead Operatic Society when I was eleven being another.

''My five-year-old son Jaxon will be at the panto this year to see me as the Wicked Queen. I ant him to believe in the magic, but he doesn't like me playing nasty people.

''I will have to play someone nice not evil next year. I don't know how he will react when I come on stage and get booed.''

Single mum Claire glows with pride when she talks about her son whose name Jaxon means 'Gift from God.'

Claire was in sparkling form - just look like her stunning, glittering costume.

Claire is starring in the panto with Blood Brothers star Sean Jones who played Mickey in the Bill Kenwright production for 18 years.

Other cast members include Philip Meeks as the nurse; Luke Walsh as The Prince and Naomi Gisbey as Snow White.

And it's a welcome return for The Hoylake School of Dance.

Wirral Globe:

The cast of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Picture: Brian Roberts)

Says Claire, accompanied by her ever-supportive mum and both enjoying a cuppa: ''We have a lovely cast. I know Globe readers are going to have a ball.

''I have a brother who lives in Moreton; my mum is in Walton; my friends like Pete Price and former Brookie stars - many of whom live on Wirral - are all coming to see me.

''And I have a flat in New Brighton. It's a place where I enjoyed a lot of childhood days especially Wilkie's indoor fairground.

''Relaxing away from the panto we are going to make the most of having a few big family dos in Liverpool at the Hilton Hotel. We will remember my father who died four years ago. It is a special time for all of us.''

Next year Claire is also looking ahead to a challenge she will relish - the serious actress in her who admits to having some nerves..

''I will be playing Shirley Valentine in Cheltenham - that's a big responsibility. I toured Educating Rita in 2012 opposite Matthew Kelly. Willy Russell writes wonderfully for women.

''One day I would love to play Mrs Johnstone in Blood Brothers.''

Claire, has enjoyed stage and small screen success in dramas from Clocking Off to Benidorm.

She has co-written a hit stage play Sex and the Suburbs about radio agony aunts and is also much-in-demand as a TV and radio presenter.

Now Claire is playing Hayley Cox in the hit BBC sit-com Scarborough alongside Jason Manford and Stephanie Cole.

On stage she gained rave reviews as Roxie Hart in Chicago and Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls playing opposite Hollywood legend Patrick Swayze.

Wirral Globe:

(Picture: Brian Roberts)

She enjoyed touring in musicals at home and abroad, cruise ships and making albums - one a critically acclaimed collection with a full orchestra.

London-based Claire smiles her wide smile and says she always loves being on Merseyside.

This panto she says is the icing on her Christmas cake.

At the launch she kept cast and crew laughing with her bubbly sense of humour and showbizzy anecdotes - one about the time she was in Stoke-on-Trent in 2008 and the dwarfs were inadvertently stuck in the theatre lift as she waited on stage for their arrival.

''I am coming home for Christmas,'' said this Wicked Queen as she gave me a farewell hug.

Yet having known her for more than 30 years, I can say with hand on heart... our Claire never really went away.

Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs is this year's Christmas panto at the Floral Pavilion and is on from December 7 to January 5.

To get your tickets call the Floral Pavilion Box Office on 0151 666 0000 or visit