Actor Todd Carty threw the switch last night to turn on King’s Lynn’s Christmas lights.

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The High Street, Vancouver Quarter, Norfolk Street, St James Street and Tower Street all came ablaze with thousands of lights.

Carty – a former Eastenders star who is appearing as Abanazaar in Aladdin, this year’s pantomime at the Corn Exchange – was joined by cast members, X-Factor finalists District 3 and local band Jessie’s Ghost.

The event marks the start of Thursday late-night shopping in the lead up to Christmas in Lynn, with many shops open until 9pm.

Carty, who played Mark Fowler in Eastenders, will be third member of the soap’s cast to tread the boards at Lynn’s Corn Exchange in three years after performances from John Altman, and Letitia Dean in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

“I love to play the villain in a panto,” the former Dancing on Ice star said. “I’ve not done a panto for a couple of years so I’m really looking forward to spending five weeks here.”

Carty’s first major TV role was playing the lead of Tucker in BBC TV’s Grange Hill before going onto Eastenders.

He then went on to play the role of PC Gabriel Kent in ITV’s The Bill and is starred as Patsy in the UK tour of the stage show Spamalot.

Starring alongside Carty is West End star Charlene Ford who is looking forward to playing Aladdin.

She said: “I haven’t a panto for such a long time so I’m a bit nervous but I’m also really looking forward to it because Aladdin in one of my favourite pantos.

“It’ll also be the first time I’ve played a boy but I think I still look quite glamorous as a boy.”

Taking the role of The Emperor is Junix Inocian, best known for playing Cook in Sky’s Sinabd.

“This is my third time playing The Emperor,” he said. “Pantos are so much fun and I can’t wait for the first show.

“We don’t have anything like this in the Philippines, where I grew up, and I can still remember now how thrilled I was when I was first introduced to it, seeing the faces of the kids and I just loved the interaction with the audience.”

Playing the roles of Wishee Washee and Widow Twankey in the pantomime will be Scott Cripps and Ian Marr respectively.

The pantomime runs from Friday, December 7 to Monday, December 31. Tickets are available on 01553 764864 or online at www.kingslynncornexchange.co.uk and prices start at £15.50 with group discount available.

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