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Ian Waller enjoys a family night out at the panto in Bristol, with laughs all around and a Strictly star too!

It’s Christmas in Bristol and that means panto time! Oh yes it is, with all the traditional festive fun coming to the Bristol Hippodrome in the form of Cinderella, starring Craig Revel Horwood, Andy Ford and Alison Jiear as the Fairy Godmother.

The result is so much fun with all all the traditions that you will expect, silly songs, rude jokes and plenty of chances to embarrass the kids!

Now I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but it turns out that Cinderella (Lauren Hampton) is having a tough time with her frankly very unpleasant step sisters (Leanne Jones and Catherine Morris) who just aren’t very nice to our heroine at all. Not only do they treat her terribly, as she takes on all of the household chores, but while they indulge themselves in their questionable fashion choice, poor old Cinders makes do with rags for clothes.

Andy Ford as Buttons (Photo: Stephen Lewis)

What’s more, Cinder’s stepmother, Baroness Demonica Hardup (Craig Revel Horwood) is even worse! It’s almost as if she doesn’t even like her stepdaughter at all… Fortunately, there’s always Buttons (Andy Ford) to save the day, Cinders very best friend whose full of love and ever with a joke and quip at the ready.

What follows is the most traditional of pantos with a packed house treated to a great combination of wonderful performances and loads of fun. OK, yes, this particular production is perhaps a little slow to get going, but then there’s always Andy Ford to save the day. The local comedian is on top form in what is his 10th panto at the Hippodrome. Andy has the way of the favourite Uncle, full of daft and often cringeworthy jokes which somehow he makes hilarious, with so many beautifully performed little asides that means he dominates proceedings whenever he’s on the stage.

Lauren Hampton as Cinderella and the fabulous ensemble (Photo: Stephen Lewis)

Of course the biggest name of all if Strictly’s very own Craig Revel Horwood who grows into his character more and more as the performance goes on. Once he hit his stride, Craig was superb, wonderfully evil, terribly glamorous and predictably fab-u-lous. Best of all, out of his DJ and bow tie and transformed with a variety of stunning costumes, he’s a fine comedy performer too with a very decent voice and a few dance floor moves as well.

In many ways this is a most traditional of pantos, with less of the hi-tech effects – although the flying carriage is pretty impressive – and more old-school slapstick and bad jokes. Still, the audience was certainly enjoying every minute, joining in with the ‘Oh no you don’ts’, singing along with the songs and generally doing our best to embarrass our kids sitting next to us.

The magic of panto is a very special gift and it was great to be back at the grand old Bristol Hippodrome for another Christmas production that sent us home singing the songs and sharing the jokes. In fact, it’s safe to say that it was a ten from all of us.

Cinderella at the Bristol Hippodrome runs until 31 December 2022. For more details and to book tickets, go to