CHRISTMAS panto Aladdin has flown into St Helens to open yet another spectacular show at the Theatre Royal in St Helens.

The Corporation Street venue's pantomimes have won national praise over recent years and packed houses are expected through December after the show blasted off on Saturday.

Emmerdale’s Liam Fox makes his professional panto debut as the evil Abanazer.

Meanwhile, panto royalty and queen of the airwaves, Leanne Campbell will appear digitally (by the power of video projection) as the magical Genie of the Mirror.

The seasonal production from acclaimed Panto producers Regal Entertainments will transform the Theatre Royal stage until Sunday, January 14.

Liam Fox and Leanne Campbell are joined by a hugely talented cast, which includes Theatre Royal favourites, Tim Lucas will play Genie of the Lamp, Warren Donnelly is PC Shameless, Lewis Devine is Wishee Washee and Richard Aucott is Widow Twankey, the show also stars newcomers Jess Smith as Princess Jasmine and Alex Aram as Aladdin.

Aladdin is directed by Chantelle Nolan, musical direction by Callum Clarke, choreography by Nazene Langfield and written by Liam Mellor.

Liam Fox is best known for playing Emmerdale’s Dan Spencer and has appeared in more than 1,000 episodes since he joined the ITV soap in 2011.

The actor, presenter, voice artist and writer made his professional acting debut in Coronation Street in 1999. His many other TV credits include Dinnerladies, Cold Feet, Clocking Off, Hollyoaks, The Case (Lime Pictures), Our Great Yorkshire Life, Fat Friends, Casualty 1909, and Stephen Poliakoff’s Dancing on the Edge.

Liam said “I’ve heard nothing but brilliant things about everyone associated with St Helens Theatre Royal so I’m very excited to get going… it’s been over 30 years since I last did a pantomime and over 12 years since I was last on stage, so I’m a tad nervous but raring to go… the script is fabulous so hopefully we can give the people of St Helens plenty of festive fun…”

Meanwhile actress and award-winning Radio City Breakfast Show host Leanne Campbell will play a digital Genie who appears as if by magic at every performance thanks to amazing state-of-the-art audio-visual technology.

Theatre Manager and panto director, Chantelle Nolan says: “Huge preparations are going on behind the scenes to bring St Helens a spectacular production this Christmas.

"Aladdin is officially our fastest selling panto ever and we’re absolutely thrilled with the cast this year, it’s going to be magical and our best yet.

“Liam Fox is going to be fantastic as a panto villain, while Leanne is panto royalty and will bring plenty of magical sparkle to our state-of-the-art genie. We also have an incredible supporting cast of your favourite St Helens panto stars.

“Aladdin is a fantastic adventure story of good triumphing over evil, and it’s a real favourite with the family audiences at St Helens Theatre Royal.

“As always, I can guarantee gorgeous sets, dazzling costumes, plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and a soundtrack that will have you dancing in your seat and singing along. This is one not to miss!”

Tickets can be booked over the phone or in person at the theatre box office between 10am and 5pm, from Monday to Saturday.