THE CAST of this year's Alhambra Panto gathered in Bradford this month to officially start the countdown to the annual festive showpiece.

Stars of television comedies such as Benidorm and Only Fools and Horses posed for selfies and spoke to fans at the historic city centre theatre.

More than 40,000 people have already booked to see Jack and the Beanstalk, which starts on Saturday, December 12.

Actress Lisa Riley, who entertained millions during the 2013 series of Strictly Come Dancing, will perform a Strictly routine during her performance as The Spirit of the Beans.

Bradford's king of panto Billy Pearce will be back to churn out the chuckles, with the Yorkshire funnyman returning for his 17th panto year to play Jack. Joining him will be John Challis, alias Boycie in classic sitcom Only Fools and Horses as the villainous Fleshcreep. Jake Canuso, who plays hotel hunk Mateo in Benidorm, will take the role of The Broadbean.

This year’s special effects will include an animatronic giant, a beanstalk that will grow out of the orchestra pit up to the roof, and 3D glasses being given to the audience so they can journey through the giant's kitchen.

Jack and the Beanstalk, being staged by the world's largest pantomime producer Qdos Entertainment, will run until Sunday, January 24. Visit or call 01274 432000 to book tickets.