THE first post-Berwick Kaler panto has opened at York Theatre Royal.

But the legendary Dame is still an integral part of the annual spectacular despite hanging up his panto costume after 40 years.

He wrote the script that the cast will now spend weeks altering as they happily ad-lib their way through the panto season.

He is also co-director with Matt Aston.

Initial reactions from the first night audience were positive.

The York Theatre Royal choir serenaded them before the performance began.

Martin Barrass is Queen Ariadne, David Leonard is Evil Diva and Suzy Cooper is Princess Beauty.

Nearly 30,000 tickets were sold before the run began.

It is the first time York Theatre Royal has staged Sleeping Beauty for many years because the pantomime doesn't have a part for a traditional Dame.