PANTO legend Berwick Kaler says healthwise he is feeling absolutely fine – but is ‘gutted’ at having to miss the final performances of Dick Turpin Rides Again at the Grand Opera House.

Speaking from his York home, the 75-year-old star, who is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid, said: “I have not had symptoms – not one! Not even a headache – nothing!

“But I cannot get out of isolation. I do feel that I have let the side down, but I do not want to infect anybody.”

Speaking of his frustration at having to miss the final few performances of the show – including Sunday’s final matinée and evening show – he said: “I’m just totally, absolutely gutted. We so nearly completed the season. I’m a great believer that the show must go on. That’s so important – especially for the panto season.”

He thanked Scottish actor and comedian Alan McHugh for stepping in for the final few performances as Dotty Donut – and praised the Grand Opera House, cast and crew for keeping the show going.

York Press:

Sidekicks: Berwick Kaler and Martin Barrass in Dick Turpin Rides Again

“It’s down to a fantastic cast, crew, the opera house and management,” he said. “I don’t know how they have managed to keep us open all this time.”

There had been some speculation that either Berwick or Martin may be able to return for Sunday's final performances of the show, at 1pm and 5pm.

But a tweet from the Grand Opera House on saturday afternoon dashed that hope.

"Please be advised that for the final performances of Dick Turpin Rides Again, due to Covid self-isolating following positive Covid 19 tests, Berwick Kaler's role as Dotty Donut will continue to be covered by actor, comedian and legendary panto dame Alan McHugh," it said. "Martin Barrass' role as Dunkin Donut will be played by panto star Paul-James Corrigan."

York Press:

Saturday afternoon's tweet from the Grand Opera House confirming that neither Berwick not Martin would be able to perform in Sunday's finalé 

Despite his enforced absence from the season finalé, Berwick promised there would be one last treat for Sunday’s final, 5pm audience.

“I’m writing a letter to be read out,” he said. “Because what a loyal audience we have had. They have been fantastic!”

Both Berwick and sidekick Martin have had to sit out the final performances of the show after testing positive for Covid – even though both insist they are feeling well.

Martin told The Press on Thursday that he felt 'right as rain' and thankfully had had no symptoms.

Since they began to self isolate, the pair’s parts of Dotty Donut and Dunkin Donut have been played by McHugh – fresh from playing the Dame, Bella Buchan, in The Beauty and the Beast at His Majesty's Theatre in Aberdeen – and McHugh’s Aberdeen panto sidekick Paul-James Corrigan.

Berwick said what he hoped for most now was that we could get through the latest wave of Covid without going into another lockdown.

And he vowed that, Covid permitting, he would be back at the Opera House next year with another panto. “Yes!" he said. “And it will be even better!”