O me babbies, me bairn called Robin Hood – the merry men and women of Theatre Royal are hoping to make the rival pantos in York green with envy.

Berwick Kaler and the rest of the cast are making the final preparations for Robin Hood And His Merry Mam, which opens on Thursday.

The production promises to be a family affair, with Berwick playing the outlaw’s mother and his real-life nephew Vincent Gray returning to the York stage.

Other regulars Suzy Cooper, Sian Howard and AJ Powell are also heading for the greenwood fair until February 2.

But the biggest villain in Pantomine won’t be treading the boards in York this year. David Leonard is wowing the crowds in the West End production of Matilda, giving Jonathan Race a chance to show his evil side and try to thwart Berwick and the rest of the goodies in the cast.

Berwick is confident the Theatre Royal can hold its own against the two rival pantomimes also in York this winter.

“Competition is always healthy and I can’t wait to see what our rivals’ are up to,” he said. “What I can promise is that York Theatre Royal will put on a brilliant production featuring a wonderful cast, at least 15 changes of scenery, some outrageous costumes, a bucket load of madness and mayhem.. and as an added bonus, this year I might even have the script ready for opening night. “ So far, 26,000 tickets have been sold for Robin Hood And His Merry Mam. But there are still plenty available.