Panto star Hayley Tamaddon looking forward to a return to Norwich

The show must go on! Hayley Tamaddon found herself personifying that mantra last year as she battled swine flu and a torn calf muscle to perform in every show as Peter Pan in Sheffield.

It should, therefore, come as little surprise that the actress from Blackpool fancied a more relaxing role this year as she takes on the character of Sleeping Beauty.

'I have heard she spends the second half asleep so I have got it covered!' she said.

Hayley will be taking the lead role in the Theatre Royal's pantomime this Christmas, and she couldn't hide her delight at being able to return to the city.

'I did Spamalot last autumn and I absolutely loved Norwich.

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I'm sure I said at the time that Norwich was one of the best cities I have been to as everyone is so welcoming and the theatre is lovely.

'It is really good to be on tour somewhere which is nice and you know they will look after you.'

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Hayley, 34, first shot to fame while playing the role of feisty Delilah Dingle in the ITV soap Emmerdale.

She has gone on to perform in a number of other TV shows, including Where The Heart Is and Waterloo Road, and has a distinguished stage career including appearances in Spamalot, The Rocky Horror Show, Mamma Mia and Grease.

She also won ITV series Dancing On Ice in March 2010, having never skated before.

However, pantomimes have always been a favourite for her ,having started performing in them at four years old with a local dance school.

'I love panto. I have pretty much done one every year other than when I was in Emmerdale and Dancing on Ice. People often ask how you can enjoy two shows a day, sometimes three, as its hard work and you don't get to see your family, but everyone wants to go to the theatre at Christmas. It is the best show all year, it has got everything. A big musical that revolves around Christmas.'

She added: 'It is great fun. It has got that element, not like serious opera, and if something goes wrong on stage you laugh about it and invite the audience to join in.'

Hayley said she was a huge fan of Christmas and that her dressing room would be, without doubt, the most decorated of all the cast.

Asked what it was like to be away for the holiday period, she said: 'I don't know any difference, that is what Christmas is about. If I was off I wouldn't know what to do with myself.

'I've never missed Christmas at home, although Norwich is probably the furthest I have been from home.'

There will be a familiar face in the cast this year though as she is joined by Kevin Sacre, who played Jake Dean in Hollyoaks.

'I have worked with Kevin before quite a few years ago which is great. It always helps if you know a person playing opposite you.'

Also starring alongside them in the pantomime will be Helen Fraser, best known as Bodybag in Bad Girls.

Hayley said that the three week rehearsal period, starting towards the end of November, was the longest she had ever had for a pantomime.

Sleeping Beauty runs from December 14 to January 15, with signed and audio described performances on January 14. Tickets range from �5-�19. It has been sponsored by Almary Green and written and directed by Richard Gauntlett, who will be donning a wide range of frocks when he stars as Nurse Pickle.

Visit or call 01603 630000.

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