Play School presenter Derek Griffiths gets set to star in Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime

Derek Griffiths as Chortwood the Butler with special powers, the part he is playing in this year's p

Derek Griffiths as Chortwood the Butler with special powers, the part he is playing in this year's panto, Sleeping Beauty, at the Theatre Royal. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Children's television legend and Coronation Street actor Derek Griffiths is preparing to take to the stage in this year's Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime – oh yes he is!

Derek Griffiths as Chortwood the Butler with special powers, the part he is playing in this year's p

Derek Griffiths as Chortwood the Butler with special powers, the part he is playing in this year's panto, Sleeping Beauty, at the Theatre Royal. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

The former Play School and Play Away presenter will be playing Chortwood the butler in the festive production of Sleeping Beauty – and yesterday he paid a visit to the theatre for some early pantomime preparations.

'Chortwood is a butler but he becomes a Doctor Who sort of time lord later on,' he said, when asked about his role in the show which will be set in a grand country house at the turn of the last century.

After being a well known children's TV presenter from the 1960s to the 1980s, Mr Griffiths said he was looking forward to entertaining a new generation of children when he appears in his second Norwich Theatre Royal pantomime.

'It's always a class pantomime here, that's why I'm happy to be back,' said Mr Griffiths, who previously played Captain Hook in the theatre's 2005 Peter Pan production, which also starred fellow Sleeping Beauty cast member Richard Gauntlett.

Norwich Theatre Royal's 2005 production of Peter Pan.
Richard Gauntlett as Peter Pan and Derek Grif

Norwich Theatre Royal's 2005 production of Peter Pan. Richard Gauntlett as Peter Pan and Derek Griffiths as Captain Hook. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Copyright Archant Norfolk.

'The thing about panto is that it gets children into the theatre for the first time,' he added.

'My first experience of theatre was watching pantomime. I can remember seeing Captain Hook, and when I played Captain Hook here I used some of what I saw when I was about nine.

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'It has a tremendous impression on children when they see pantomime for the first time.'

Mr Griffiths, who played mechanic Freddie Smith in Coronation Street and starred as the Child Catcher in the West End production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, also previously performed in the Theatre Royal's 2007 Twelfth Night production at Houghton Hall. He will be joined in the theatre's Sleeping Beauty cast by EastEnders actress Gillian Wright, who is playing Dowager Aunt Vipera, and pantomime favourites Richard Gauntlett and Ben Langley, who are playing Mrs Midges and Muddles Midges.

Derek Griffiths as Chortwood the Butler with special powers, the part he is playing in this year's p

Derek Griffiths as Chortwood the Butler with special powers, the part he is playing in this year's panto, Sleeping Beauty, at the Theatre Royal. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Sleeping Beauty is at Norwich Theatre Royal from December 13 to January 14. Tickets £7-£24.50.

For more information and to book tickets, visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 630000.

Derek Griffiths as Chortwood the Butler with special powers, the part he is playing in this year's p

Derek Griffiths as Chortwood the Butler with special powers, the part he is playing in this year's panto, Sleeping Beauty, at the Theatre Royal. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

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