Elaine Paige joins Dick Whittington - her first panto since 1966

The star returns to the Palladium's panto scene for the first time in 50 years.

Actress Elaine Paige is returning to pantomime for the first time in more than 50 years as she joins the cast of Dick Whittington.

She will take on the role of Queen Rat at the London Palladium’s Christmas show this year, the same venue where she starred alongside Lulu in Babes In The Wood in 1966.

She will also be joined by Ashley Banjo and his dance troupe, Britain’s Got Talent champions Diversity, who will play The Sultan and his Entourage.

Paige and Diversity are the latest additions to the star-studded programme, which already includes panto stalwarts Julian Clary and Nigel Havers.

Charlie Stemp will star as Dick Whittington, Gary Wilmot as Sarah the Cook and Paul Zerdin as Idle Jack.

Best known for her roles in West End and Broadway musicals, the 69-year-old rose to fame with performances in hit shows such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats and The King & I.

Dick Whittington will mark her first return to pantomime since becoming a professional star, with the exception of a television special with Cilla Black in 1971.

Diversity, who won the ITV talent contest in 2009, will join the panto programme following their successful UK tour Genesis, while Banjo has become known for his television appearances, including as a judge on ITV’s Dance Dance Dance.

Wilmot, a familiar face on the London theatre scene, is about to star as the loveable children’s character Badger in the Palladium’s production of The Wind In The Willows.

Stemp is currently on stage as lead Arthur Kipps in Half A Sixpence, the HG Wells adaptation showing at the Noel Coward Theatre.

Dick Whittington will run from December 9 to January 14 next year.

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