Former Eastenders actress Letitia Dean heads cast for this year’s panto Cinderella at King’s Lynn Corn exchange

There's no mistaking the voice which once rang through the Queen Vic, when Dirty Den's name was over the door.

Five years after Sharon Watts was last seen fleetingly in Albert Square, former Eastenders actress Letitia Dean is taking a shine to Norfolk.

'I've had a look around and it looks like my cup of tea,' she said, as she donned her Fairy Godmother costume for the launch of this year's pantomime at King's Lynn Corn Exchange.

'My old Eastenders mate John Altman was here last year and he told me what a fabulous time he had.

'John said it was a very special theatre; he highly recommended it.'

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With more than a decade of wand waving behind her, Miss Dean looks as at home on the panto stage as she once did behind the bar.

Rehearsals begin shortly for Cinderella, this year's panto at the Corn Exchange.

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'I'm very excited I've met the Uglies today and we're going to have a great time,' said Miss Dean.

As well as Ian Marr and Richard Pocock - aka the Ugly Sisters - the show stars up and coming West End actress Claire Fishenden, who is making her panto debut, while Scott Cripps returns to the Corn Exchange stage as Buttons.

Last year put the Corn Exchange on the map as a panto venue, with what reviewers called a 'bright and breezy' Jack and the Beanstalk.

There were boos from some quarters when West Norfolk council revealed it was moving the traditional Christmas show from Hunstanton's Princess Theatre to the 730-seat Lynn venue, as part of a wider arts shake-up.

But a live band, a spectacular beanstalk and a cast including Miss Dean's former cast-mate John Altman soon won audiences over to the change.

West Norfolk Mayor Colin Sampson said he was looking forward to this year's show.

'It's for young people of all ages and hopefully the young 'uns see something they like and they remember about the theatre when they get a bit older.

'We do pretty well with live music, festivals and things at other times of the year, panto is essential for Christmas.'

Miss Dean, who was making her first visit to Lynn, said she was impressed with the town. 'When I looked around on the internet I was quite impressed,' she said.

The 43-year-old actress, who spent her childhood in a cottage on romantic novelist Barbara Cartland's estate in rural Hertfordshire, said she might even find herself tempted to move to Norfolk.

'It's just the peace and quiet, I grew up in the country,' she said.

Miss Dean found stardom at the age of 18, when she joined the cast of the BBC's new soap Eastenders, in 1985.

She has made the occasional cameo appearence since her character Sharon Watts left Walford, in 1995. Since then she has appeared in The Bill, Drop the Dead Donkey, and Strictly Come Dancing, where she reached the quarter finals with partner Darren Bennett in 2007. Her previous panto credits include Snow White, and Jack and the Beanstalk.

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