LEGENDARY panto star Dame Berwick Kaler's return to the stage has been delayed.

The Grand Opera House in York announced today - amid the ongoing coronavirus restrictions - that the 2020 pantomime Dick Turpin Rides Again will now be moved to Christmas 2021.

Berwick said: "Dick Turpin will ride again for Christmas 2021.

"It's a long time to wait for a laugh but I can assure you it will be worth it, and we'll all be at the Grand Opera House to greet you all.”

A spokesperson for the theatre said: "While this is sad news, we are so delighted that the show and its stars Berwick Kaler, Martin Barrass, Suzy Cooper, AJ Powell and David Leonard will all return next year."

They added: "We will be contacting all customers directly as we move your tickets to the corresponding 2021/22 rescheduled performance and appreciate your patience as we manage a huge amount of orders and inquiries.

"All together now… pantomime will be back!

"Thank you to everyone who continues to support us as we work tirelessly towards re-opening our beautiful theatre and bringing you the shows you love."

Plans for Berwick's sensational return to the panto stage - this time at The Grand Opera House - were first revealed in January.

The show this Christmas was due to reunite him with his band of pantomime regulars, with whom he had appeared for many productions at York Theatre Royal.

Berwick's new panto is being produced by Qdos Entertainment.

Speaking in January, Berwick said: “Qdos Entertainment have come to the rescue of the most lauded pantomime in the country having found us a new home at the Grand Opera House in our beloved City of York."

The news came just days after Berwick, who starred in Theatre Royal pantos for 40 years before retiring last year, went on stage at the end of the final night of this year's panto, Sleeping Beauty, and gave the theatre three days to reconsider its decision to shake up next year's pantomime.

The Theatre Royal had said a new creative team was being appointed for its next Christmas pantomime and that the current stars would not automatically be offered a role in future productions.

Earlier this month York Theatre Royal announced that its panto would go on the road this year - as the company said it would take its show to every ward across the city this Christmas.

The move came as the theatre confirmed it was postponing the planned production of Cinderella until next year amid the ongoing Covid restrictions.