YORK Theatre Royal’s first pantomime since Berwick Kaler retired after 40 years as Dame is proving as popular as ever, with nearly 30,000 tickets sold ahead of the show’s opening tomorrow.

Although Berwick isn’t in the cast of Sleeping Beauty, he has written the script and is co-director with Matt Aston, and there will be plenty of familiar faces too as other members of York’s panto family return, with David Leonard playing Evil Diva, Suzy Cooper as Princess Beauty and Martin Barrass as Queen Ariadne.

Suzy said: “Berwick is all over this pantomime in the writing and directing of it. We’ve had him throughout rehearsals but in performance we will miss him hugely.

“But Sleeping Beauty reeks of Berwick Kaler so the audience will feel his presence every step of the way. He’s not gone completely. You might find he’s right … behind you.”

The panto will continue until January 25.