THE good folks of Cooksonville have invited us once again into pantoland, but this year the action takes us far away from the North East.
This time we're transported to London as Dick heads off to find fame and fortune, along with his cat Mia (Mia cat – get it?), brother Tommy and their mother, Dame Dotty.
Tommy (Ray Spencer) and Dame Dotty (Bob Stott) are the stars, guaranteeing laughs as they create mayhem and madness – with more double entendres than a 70s sitcom.
Tommy boasts that he's been mistaken for royalty: “I was riding my bike through London when someone shouted King Pleb.”
Lots of play on Mr Whittington's forename hopefully sails over the children's heads.
The principal characters are strong. Steven Lee Hamilton is very good as the eponymous hero and Alice Stokoe is fantastic as Alice Fitzwarren, but special mention must also go to the always brilliant Peter Durrant as a truly evil King Rat.
This year there's a Swedish twist and two of the actors, Ola Karlberg and Mia Wallin, are hoping to inspire the British Christmas pantomime tradition in their homeland.
The silly seamen played by Luke Maddison and Jonathan Lee Wharton are perfectly choreographed.
Dwain Pipe's little rhyme about wee and poo is now repeated several times a day by my children and it still makes me laugh – though no doubt it will wear thin pretty soon.
The only weak element is the puppet fairy, Emma of the Dale, voiced by Emmerdale star Charlie Hardwick. Getting the character into position sometimes halted the flow of the show.
My children and I have been fans of the Customs House panto for years and this year the team excel themselves. Sadly, though, this is the last one to star dame Bob Stott who's hanging up his boobs for good at the end of the run. For many years he's given his all to “the little panto with the big heart” and goodness knows how they'll replace him.
Ray Spencer, of course, will be back. He has the brilliant knack of having the audience in fits of laughter one minute and crying real tears the next.
Another outstanding show from the Customs House team and one I can strongly recommend.