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Friday 05 January 2024.

Wednesday 03 January 2024. BBC1 10.45pm - RAYE live at The Royal Albert Hall 2023. I was at this really good sold out show , where Raye was backed by a full orchestra. ----------------------------------------------- ----------------------------------------------- Tuesday 02 January 2024. PETER PAN is at The London Palladium. The country's biggest and best panto returns to this venue. I have been to it a few times in the past. The London Palladium pantomime is set to return for an eighth year, with a brand new production of Peter Pan starring Jennifer Saunders and Julian Clary. Saunders, who will be making her Palladium panto debut in Peter Pan playing Captain Hook, said: “I could not be more delighted to be doing my first panto ever at the Palladium. I am a huge fan of panto and The Palladium always delivers. I wouldn’t want to be in Peter Pan’s tiny soft shoes let me tell you, because I am going to give Hook my all!” Returning Palladium panto favourites Paul Zerdin, Nigel Havers, Gary Wilmot, and Rob Madge will also join Saunders and Clary in the cast. The production will once again be directed by Michael Harrison, who has produced and directed all eight London Palladium pantomimes. Peter Pan will run from Saturday 9 the December 2023 to Sunday 14 January 2024. ---------- This iconic venue looks very full tonight. I have a superb seat just three rows from the stage. The show was on for two hours over 70 mins and 50 mins. Last Christmas it was Dawn French who brought celebrity star power to the Palladium panto Jack and The Beanstalk. This year it is French's comedy partner Jennifer Saunders playing villainous Captain Hook in Peter Pan. Apart from that this is business as usual for the ensemble – in other words a riotous mix of camp, slapstick, smut and occasional acting. And, as always, glorious fun. I'm not sure JM Barrie envisaged Julian Clary dressed as a giant prawn, or Peter Pan's crotch catching fire after some limbo dancing. This is a version that just about pays lip service to the origin story. No wonder a song in the second half, sung by scene-stealing imp Rob Madge as fairy Tink, asks "whatever happened to the plot?" Instead the cast concentrates on enjoying themselves and entertaining the audience. Saunders is superb as Hook and cannot resist breaking into crowdpleasing Abfab impressions. Louis Gaunt is a more muscular Pan than you might expect. The boy who never grew up, but clearly spent a lot of hours in the gym. Clary as Seaman Smee brings Act One to a close on a literal high as he glides into the rafters. Elsewhere familiar set-pieces are given a new spin. Gary Wilmot's Dame delivers a trademark rapid-fire wordplay number. Professional duffer Nigel Havers and slick ventriloquist Paul Zerdin join Clary and Wilmot for a singalong which involves Havers being repeatedly whacked. Julian Clary had a dozen incredible costumes , and had the majority of the smutty jokes. Nigel Havers was the butt of many jokey routines related to his age. The ventriloquist Paul Zerdin and his puppet were excellent, and in the second half he got three young children on stage , which was very entertaining audience participation. There is satire with swipes at Farage Sunak and Starmer. So much laughter in this top notch spectacle which was a great start to 2024.