Petitions launched to help save Theatre Royal panto favourite after revealing he will not be returning
PUBLISHED: 10:51 05 January 2019 | UPDATED: 22:57 05 January 2019
Two petitions have been set-up to try and help save Norfolk comedian and Britain's Got Talent star Ben Langley who has recently said he will be not be in the Norwich Theatre Royal's panto cast for 2019.
The Theatre Royal panto stalwart, who lives in Shimpling near Diss, was told by the producer that the show is going in a ‘new direction’ for the next production of Cinderella.
Mr Langley, who is currently starring as Wishee Washee in Aladdin, felt the need to reveal the news on Twitter after a fan tweeted him saying they had already booked tickets to see him in Cinderella.
Calls for him to be recasted come after a backlash from audience members who said they enjoyed Mr Langley’s performance and that “he made the show what it was”.
Two petitions have now been launched on change.org with the hope of seeing the Norfolk actor return with more than 1,000 signatures online.
The first was set-up by father-of-three, David Perkins, who saw the panto on Christmas Eve with his family. The watch-repairer was even brought-up on stage by Mr Langley making his youngest daughters night.
Mr Perkins said: “I just want to get him back next year in some sort of role.
“It’s wrong to put tickets out with the excitement of that show and then say ‘we are moving in a different direction’. If he doesn’t come back it won’t be the same.”
Joanne Blackwell, who also started a petition, says: “Ben Langley is hilarious and makes the Norwich Panto the success it is.
“It will not be the same without him and those of us who go year after year want him to stay.”
Campaigners have been reaching out to Norwich South MP Clive Lewis and former Norwich footballer Darren Eadie to share the campaign.
Mr Langley’s departure has not been confirmed by the Theatre Royal and a spokesman said that they would not be making any casting announcements ‘until later in January’.
But Mr Langley said: “I learned properly about three weeks ago I wasn’t to be appearing in next year’s pantomime - this was a great shock to me but I totally accept their decision.
“It is very sad to me, knowing I won’t be allowed to continue to entertain the lush people of Norfolk.
“The Theatre Royal is a wonderful place to work and they are choosing to go in a different direction with Cinderella and I’m sure it will be a great show without me.”