SCOOCH pop duo Caroline Barnes and Russ Spencer are delighted to be starring in the Grand Opera House pantomime for the second successive winter in York.

After playing Fairy Godmother and Dandini respectively in Cinderella last Christmas, the partners are appearing as Princess Jill and Jack Trott in Jack And The Beanstalk, whose run hopefully will resume tomorrow after the York floods put paid to six performances.

"We're very pleased to be back in York," says Russ. "We have our cat with us, Tward, whose name was originally Tinkerbell but it mutated into Tward, and wherever we stay, they have to accept cats, so we're staying in the same flat as last time."

The former Eurovision performers have done pantomime for many years up and down the country. "This is the second time we've done Jack And The Beanstalk," says Russ. "We did it in Torquay, which is nice...

..."But not quite as nice as York, which is such a lovely place to be during Christmastime," says Caroline, who is originally from Leeds and was educated at Ashville College in Harrogate.

Russ is a strong believer in the power of pantomime to inspire a love of theatre. "The thing with panto is that it's the first time that children get the chance to go to the theatre, and it's really important that they go, with all the counter attractions of computers and iPads," he says. "But if we don't get children's interest now, what happens to the next generation?"

He is enjoying playing Jack. "I've done a lot of prince roles in the past, but with Jack you can have more fun, although one of my jobs with Caroline's Princess Jill is to keep the script running when all the mayhem is going on around us," says Russ.

Caroline stresses the importance of good health for the panto season when excitable, loud audiences present a challenge to the performers' vocal cords. "We get a flu jab for the winter," she says. "I've got more to do in this show, so I have to take care of my voice on and off stage and shouting is a no-no."

Away from her commitments with Scooch and pantomime each winter, Caroline is a choreography and DJ. "I'm choreographing a new production of Bugsy Malone that will open at the Pavilion Theatre in February in Bournemouth, where we love living after moving out of London," she says. "I DJ in London and we've got a little apartment in Marbella, so I get a few gigs out there, which is nice to do."

Jack And The Beanstalk runs at Grand Opera House, York, until Sunday. Box office: 0844 871 3024