GAVIN & Stacey star Melanie Walters is among the cast of this year's pantomime at the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton.

The stage and TV star - known to millions as Gwen West in the smash-hit BBC comedy - plays Fairy Bon Bon in Beauty & The Beast, which will be staged at the riverside venue from December 4 to January 2.

Described as a "must-see, magnificent adventure" the show also features Olivia Birchenough, presenter on Channel Five's Milkshake! as Belle, Quinn Patrick as Polly la Plonk, West End star Shaun Dalton as The Beast and Sean Jones as Louis la Plonk.

The show, brought to the stage by UK Productions Ltd was planned for last year, but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But now - as theatres slowly return to normal after the pandemic - the show is set to go on.

Looking forward to treading the boards once again, during this afternoon's launch at the Floral Pavilion, Melanie Walters (pictured with co-star Olivia Birchenough) told the Globe: "It's my first time as Bon Bon, but not necessarily my first time as a fairy. Fairy is there to look over proceedings and make sure it all turns out for the best.

"It's a wonderful storyline, very story-based, so you're going to be enthralled with the story. Plus, you've got the music, the songs, the lights, the costumes and laughter.

"We're so looking forward to it, missed it last year and so absolutely up for it."

Wirral Globe:

Reflecting on the last 18 months, Melanie continued: "I've been very lucky; ticking over for the last 18 months, buy my profession has just been completely thwarted. A lot of people have been in a very difficult situation, my heart goes out to them.

"I was lucky, managed to some filming during lockdown - all in a bubble - so managed to make a film and also do some work for the BBC.

"Of course, panto was cancelled, which was a huge shame, so just delighted to be back. I think the audiences will delighted to come back as well.

"I'm currently performing in What's new pussycat at Birmingham Rep and the audience have absolutely loved it and just loved being back in the theatre.

Wirral Globe:

Olivia Birchenough as Belle and Shaun Dalton as Beast during panto lauch at the Floral Pavilion today. Picture: Craig Manning

Melanie added: "Quite a few people have said that you forget what a communal experience it is, especially if it's a joyous experience like panto and you've got 800 people laughing and talking about it with strangers afterwards, rather than watching something at home on their own.

"It's that collectiveness that people have missed, so hopefully they will come to to see the show.

"One of the main reasons why I love doing panto is that it's generational, from the age of a couple of months old to 99. It has something for everyone.

"It's my first time at the Floral Pavilion, but I've done quite a lot of filming around Wirral with Leopard Productions and BBC, so am quite familiar with and love the area."

Asked whether a new series of Gavn & Stacey is in the pipeline, Melanie said: "I'm usually the last to know if a new series is planned, so absolutely don't know."

Also looking forward to panto's return is co-star Quinn Patrick, who plays Polly la Plonk, The Dame.

He joked: "Polly's the housekeeper, so I think I'm going to be like Carry On star Hattie Jacques, keeping everyone in line."

He continued: "I'm very excited about getting back on stage. We're all fingers crossed. The first conversation we had this morning when we arrived was 'we need to get back out there and entertain the troops."

Wirral Globe:

On playing the Dame, Quinn (pictured with cast this afternoon) added: "I always think I'm very honoured to play the Dame, because the British public love her.

"So, if you go out there and give the audience what they want, you have the best time and they have the best time.

"I have done panto for about 20 years; I've played Ugly Sisters for four years and Dame for about 13. Love it.

"I've worked with a few of the cast before - it's my third time with Melanie - she's just adorable; the man playing The King, David Alcock, is wonderful.

"UK Productions are very good at putting together a good cast.

"It's great to back."

Looking forward to entertaining Wirral audiences next month, he said: "Panto's been around a long time, it's not going anywhere, so we'd love you to come back and see it."

A spokesperson for the show said: "Unleash the beast and magic of pantomime with this year's sparkling fairy.

"Join Belle, the Beast, Fairy Bon Bon, larger than life Polly la Plonk and her cheeky chappie son Louis la Plonk as they are transported to a cursed castle under the spell of an evil enchantress.

"Can the wicked Hugh be defeated?

"Can Belle see beyond the Beast and fall in love with her captor?

"Will the Beast's heart be melted by Belle's beauty?

"With an unmissable transformation moment, side-splitting comedy, stunning sets and costumes and an award-winning script, join us for a must-see, magnificent adventure."

Tickets for the panto are from