Berwick Kaler and the Gang Have Left the Panto!

This morning The Grand Opera House York have announced that Berwick Kaler and the rest of the beloved York Panto cast (Martin Barrass, Suzy Cooper, AJ Powell, and David Leonard) will not be returning this year!  I have to say we are sad about this as I have been going to see them in panto since I was a child (and I am knocking on now!).  Berwick has been on the stage in York at Christmas since 1977, most of that time spent at The York Theatre Royal, the gang then moved over to the Opera House three years ago.

Berwick Kaler said

After 47 years getting away with complete nonsense, it’s time to bow out gracefully and I couldn’t have wished for a better production than Robinson Crusoe. I’d like to thank all of the audiences over the years, and particularly those who came to the Grand Opera House this year for making it so memorable. I’d also like to thank the Producers UK Productions for their support, and for bringing to life my frankly mad ideas so spectacularly. Last and of course not least my loyal gang, David, Suzy, Martin, and AJ for putting up with me for so many years!

The Grand Opera House York also announced that the Panto for 2024 will be Beauty and the Beast.


grand opera house panto york




Review of a Previous Panto at The Grand Opera House York.


Last night we went to see Old Granny Goose at the Grand Opera House in York. Berwick, Suzy, Martin and David were back in fine form (if only I had half of their energy!).


panto grand opera house york panto


With lots of laughs and a few topical gags, there was plenty of slapstick chaos from the inimitable Berwick and Martin. David, as always is my favourite villain (boo, hiss!) And Suzy makes the perfect (and funny) lead girl.

Mr Wonders enjoyed the music in the show, particularly Berwick’s rendition of Barbie Girl by Aqua!


panto grand opera house york


Some old favourites returned in the supporting cast too, Some great dancers, and as always, it’s lovely to see some of the local children on stage,



For us, it’s just a lovely family Christmas tradition.  It’s like having a get together with old friends. You know that Christmas has started and it just makes you feel good.


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Oh, and (with the help of the nice lady sat next to me!) I even bagged a fabled wagon wheel! My 15 year old is going to frame it!


grand opera house york panto


We attended the press night at the Grand Opera House Panto – as always, all our opinions are our own.











Panto Review from last year:

Last night we went along to see Dick Turpin Rides Again at the Grand Opera House in York.  It was the first time Berwick, David, Martin and Suzie have been back together on stage since Berwick ‘retired’ in 2018 and the first time they have performed at the Grand Opera House rather than the York Theatre Royal.

grand opera house panto york


What did we think?  Honestly, it was so lovely to have them back.  Wonderfully familiar and nostalgic and exactly what we need right now.  Lots of the old jokes as well as new cast members to shake things up a bit.  The storyline (less important than you’d think!) was roughly based on Dick Turpin, but really is more about the singing, dancing, comedy and vibrant camaraderie on stage that the audience are encouraged to feel part of.


grand opera house panto york


There is plenty of fun for the kids too, we particularly liked the big song at the end of the first half, with the most magical flying horse you have ever seen!  (Marvellous!).

grand opera house panto york


Christmas isn’t Christmas without a panto visit and the chance of catching a Wagon Wheel.  A glorious reunion with old friends – long may it continue!


The Official Info:


Grand Opera House are delighted to announce York legend Berwick Kaler will be bulk buying Wagon Wheels, dusting off his frocks and making his much-anticipated, triumphant return to pantomime to star in Dick Turpin Rides Again this Christmas!


The star of pantomime in York for 40 years, Berwick’s critically acclaimed performance as dame has solidified his reputation as a true York institution having delighted generations of festive theatregoers every year, winning rave reviews from critics and audiences taking him to their hearts. Dick Turpin Rides Again marks his first pantomime at the Grand Opera House.


Having made his York pantomime debut as Ugly Sister in Cinderella in 1977, Berwick has performed, written and directed panto in the city ever since, calling out his iconic catchphrase ‘me babbies, me bairns’ and met with adoration from local audiences at every performance. A star of the stage since he left his native Sunderland as a teenager, Berwick has been a mainstay in theatre ever since, appearing in London’s West End and regionally, making television appearances in iconic comedies such as The New Statesman and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and even featuring in the Hollywood blockbuster A Knight’s Tale. In 2012 he was featured in Michael Grade’s acclaimed documentary A History of the Pantomime Dame, which was aired on BBC Four.


Dick Turpin Rides Again also reunites Berwick with his band of pantomime regulars, including comedy side-kick Martin Barrass, the villainous David Leonard, Yorkshire’s longest-serving Principal Girl Suzy Cooper and favourite funny man AJ Powell. Berwick will also write and direct the production.  This year’s Grand Opera House pantomime will be produced by Qdos Entertainment

for the very first time, the world’s biggest pantomime producer, and the Olivier Award winning team behind pantomimes across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and at the world famous London Palladium each Christmas. Dick Turpin Rides Again will feature Qdos Entertainment’s hallmark of high-quality production values and special effects, whilst staying faithful to Berwick’s renowned approach to the genre and to local York audiences.


Speaking on the partnership, Qdos Entertainment’s Managing Director Michael Harrison said: “We are absolutely delighted to be embarking on an all-new pantomime partnership with our colleagues at the Ambassador Theatre Group, Grand Opera House and, of course, Berwick and the gang. Berwick is an undeniable master in the world of pantomime, with his own inimitable style and approach and we are delighted to be working closely with him and the cast to bring back the magic for which they are best-known.”


Qdos Entertainment Chairman, Scarborough based Nick Thomas MBE, added, “I am thrilled to welcome Berwick, a true Yorkshire theatre legend, to the Qdos Family. Qdos Entertainment has had a long association with Yorkshire, it is my home county, and with our production and wardrobe teams based in Scarborough and Beverley, forming this new relationship with Berwick and the Grand Opera House is especially exciting”.


Speaking on his casting Berwick Kaler said: “Qdos Entertainment have come to the rescue of the most lauded pantomime in the country having found us a new home at the Grand Opera House in our beloved City of York. To make this a success we need you – the most articulate and loyal audience in the entire country. We can go forth with a management that believes we have enhanced the reputation of a local pantomime that has caught the imagination of young and old, from all walks of life.”


Grand Opera House York’s Theatre Director, Rachel Crocombe-Lane, adds: ‘Qdos brings both world-class expertise and also a Yorkshire heart, being based in Scarborough; the perfect combination together with this talented cast. As a venue team, Pantomime is our favourite time of year because of the friendship with the company and also the joy and devotion of our audience. We are proud of these new partnerships, excited for the future of our Pantomime and will be ready altogether to really blow your Christmas socks off!’


Dick Turpin Rides Again will play at Grand Opera House from Saturday 12 December until Sunday 10 January 2021, with tickets going on sale for ATG Theatre Card holders from Tuesday 11 February, and on sale generally from Friday 14 February. Berwick Kaler will be making a personal appearance at the theatre Box Office as it goes on sale at 10am on the 14 February, and will sell the first tickets to the show.