HERE is a Royal – York Theatre Royal – announcement: pantomime favourite Martin Barrass is to play The Queen in this year’s pantomime Sleeping Beauty.

After more than three decades as Berwick Kaler’s sidekick, Martin is lined up to play royalty in Berwick Kaler’s take on the story of the princess who pricks her finger and falls asleep for 100 years.

Although he’ll be wearing a frock, Martin isn’t stepping into the Dame’s shoes now that Berwick has retired as the theatre’s pantomime Dame after 40 years - because Sleeping Beauty doesn’t have a Dame character. On playing the Queen, Martin said: “Dear diary, stayed in, reigned all day.”

Martin will join other members of the Theatre Royal pantomime family David Leonard, Suzy Cooper and A.J Powell in Sleeping Beauty, which is written by Berwick Kaler. He will co-direct with York-based theatre-maker Matt Aston, whose production of Grandad’s Island was seen at the Theatre Royal.

Co-director Matt Aston said: “I’m thrilled that Martin is going to put a frock on this year and play the part of The Queen. Hopefully he’ll remember who he is, doesn’t miss his Mam too much and try to be as regal as possible at all times. What could possibly go wrong?”

Returning too are Elliot Styche as Musical Director and Grace Harrington as Movement Director/Choreographer.

Anthony Lamble is the new set and costume designer and Mark Jonathan is lighting designer.

Sleeping Beauty runs from December 7 to January 25. Tickets from the box office 01904 623568 and online