A 7ft elephant, a flying carpet and TV star Keith Chegwin are just some of the treats in store for audiences at the Wyvern Theatre this Christmas.

The theatre held its pantomime launch at Hongxin Buffet Restaurant in Peatmoor yesterday.

Aladdin will be taking place at the theatre from December 8 until January 6.

It will see Keith Chegwin returning to the stage for a second year, and he said the decision to come back was easy.

“From the box office to lighting to sound, backstage crew, the cast and the audience, it is a hoot from beginning to end,” he said.

“The great thing about Aladdin is it opens it up and there is more diversity.

“Cinderella is a great pantomime but it is just about Buttons’ love life.

“With this we have got Widow Twanky, the genie, the lamp and an elephant. I can’t wait.

“We’re really getting the audience involved this year. It was noisy last year but bring your ear defenders this time.”

Keith will be juggling the role of Wishee Washee with rehearsals for Dancing On Ice, which he was forced to pull out of last year after he broke three ribs and fractured his shoulder after falling on the ice.

He said he has been practicing and was confident there wouldn’t be a repeat of last year’s accident.

The pantomime, directed by Andrew Wright, will also include 16 young performers from dancing schools across Swindon.

Theatre director Derek Aldridge said: “Pantomimes at the Wyvern have just become part of Swindon’s Christmas. It is a busy time for us but fantastic to be part of people’s Christmas.”

The roles of Aladdin and Jasmine are yet to be cast but the emperor will be played by Nick Barclay and Widow Twankey will be played by Ian Mowat.

Nick said: “Pantomime is as much fun for us on stage as it is for the audience. As long as we are having fun, the audience is guaranteed to have fun too.”

Ian, who said it usually takes about 20 minutes for him to get ready as the dame, said: “I love being the dame, you always get the best frocks.

“It is lovely seeing the kids watching their parents laughing during the pantomime and not always understanding why their parents are laughing. It is something for every age group.”

The genie will be played by Suzie Chard and David Ashley, who was an ugly sister in Cinderella last year, will be starring as Abanazar.

Tickets range in price from £14.50 to £23. Visit www.wyverntheatre.org.uk or phone 01793 524481.