By Hilary Porter

IT was one of the most electrifying standing ovations I have witnessed - for one of the greatest ever pantomimes.

In deed, comedy legend Bobby Davro told the cheering and whooping audience at the final bows: "I've done 37 pantos and never one better than this...I'm feeling quite emotional!"

Even his good pal and fellow comedian Jim Davidson sat watching jumped to his feet to applaud during the show.

This epic production created for the London Palladium last year but re-written with a new starry cast, tapped into their many extraordinary talents and truly dazzled.

Delivering the wow factor right from the start was EastEnders' iconic bad boy Steve McFadden - best know as Walford's Phil Mitchell, who played the perfect panto baddie King Rat.

In sharp contrast to his dark, gravelly and menacing role was the cheery and charming Joe McElderry who demonstrated just why he won the X Factor with stunning versions of songs like Don't Stop Believing.

He shared great chemistry with his love interest, former Hear'say singer Suzanne Shaw who was delightful too and, like Joe, a slick musical theatre star.

There was even a music legend playing the Fairy - former Three Degrees diva Sheila Ferguson who added more fine music to the mix.

The songs, the sets and the big dance numbers were all incredible - the flying bus and giant rat were something to behold, drawings gasps of surprise from the audience.

The colourful and inventive costumes were absolutely fabulous too.

But it is the comedy that really sets this show apart and Bobby Davro is the master, with both spoken and sung impressions that included Michael McIntyre, Forrest Gump, Peggy Mitchell and Donald Trump.

The rest of the cast really bounced off him - not least in their take on The 12 Days of Christmas which at one point saw Suzanne lying prostrate on the stage laughing unable to get up and Bobby lying in the audience across Jim Davidson's lap!

I do not believe I have ever laughed so much in a pantomime - they even made Brexit sound funny!

Pantomime dame Andrew Ryan is surely one of the very best- a one-man masterclass in the art.

Fizzing with laughter, fun and sheer escapism this has to be the best panto of 2018 - not to be missed!

Dick Whittington runs until January 6.

Tickets via Mayflower Theatre Box Office tel: 02380 711811 or online at