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Torvill and Dean Gold in Cinderella Panto

Torvill & Dean Cinderella Bristol panto review

Cinderella Review – Bristol’s Christmas Pantomime

The Bristol Hippodrome

Sunday 8th December – Saturday 8th January 2017

This year’s family pantomime Cinderella stars national icons Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean as the Fairy Godparents who bring their unique talents to The Bristol Hippodrome for the first time ever. The classic rags to riches tale Cinderella is transformed into a breath-taking family show with glittering sets, extravagant costumes, big song and dance numbers, bags of audience participation, real Shetland ponies and impressive skating sequences.

During preparations for the show, Jayne Torvill explained:-  

“We’re already working on some brand new choreography which we hope will bring a whole lot more excitement to the wonderful Cinderella story and reworking some old favourites too’.

Christopher Dean added ‘We’re really looking forward to bringing Cinderella to life on skates and spending the festive season in Bristol. We can’t wait for Christmas now!’


In today’s article you have a choice. You can either click the screen below to see the quick review video I made about this year’s Bristol panto as part of my #Vlogmas challenge (to make a video every day in December until Christmas) or just scroll down for my full write-up. You’re welcome to do both of course!


While we’re waiting for the show to start, a camera pans around audience members and there’s much excitement as different people appear on the large screen. The boys and I think its hilarious when we turn back from taking a selfie to notice that a camera has zoomed right into Daddy (who only has himself to blame as he’s looking a tad grumpy) with a speech bubble coming out of his mouth, aptly stating:-

“Should have gone to the bar!” 

They couldn’t have picked a more apt victim subject. Because he’s so swamped with his accountancy work at this time of year, we often refer to the husband as Scrooge, but even he can’t help but laugh about his fifteen seconds of fame and after a few “It’s behind you!” lessons, we and the rest of the audience are thoroughly warmed up.

This version of Cinderella is very different to pantos we’ve seen before. The cast has the huge draw of Torvill and Dean, but local celebrity Andy Ford is nowhere to be seen. Instead we’re hosted by New Zealander, Jarred Christmas (comically mistaken for an Ozzie throughout the show). He deals with a reluctant audience member splendidly, speedily dubbing her Stripey when she refuses to tell him her name. Jarred does the role of Buttons proud.

Rhiannon Chesterman looks and plays a sweet little Cinderella but then surprises me with her powerful singing voice.

Torvill & Dean Cinderella Bristol panto review

Buttons and Cinderella

Britain’s beloved sporting heroes wow the audience not only with their skating routines which are performed on roller blades and not ice. As Cinderella’s fairy godparents, they have quite an acting role too. King Crispin (Christopher Dean) tries to blend in with we Bristolians, comically slotting in a “gert lush” or “cheers drive” at any possible opportunity and chomping at the bit to perform their iconic Ravel’s Bolero number. His long-suffering, good-natured Queen Juniper (Jayne Torvill) just about tolerates him and comes across as a terribly nice fairy godmother. I hadn’t really expected them to speak but they embrace their not insignificant roles and look like they’re having a lot of fun doing so!

I may be in the minority but I’m relieved that Dandini (played by Samuel Holmes) has turned the camp setting down a notch or two this year.

The ugly sisters, Wasabi (Tim Hudson) and Saffron (Charles Brunton) are REALLY ugly, (sorry ladies!) but their outfits are to die for. I mean, why wear a boring old gown when you can go to the ball dressed as a giant golden bottle of champagne on ice?!

Torvill & Dean Cinderella Bristol panto review

The Ugly Sisters in Cinderella


The Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics saw Torvill and Dean shoot to international fame as the pair became the highest-scoring figure skaters of all time after skating to Ravel’s Bolero, creating one of the most memorable sporting and entertainment moments and earning them a gold medal.  Torvill and Dean continued to skate together for a further 14 years winning numerous professional and amateur competitions.  Following their professional skating retirement in 1998, the pair embarked on a number of other projects including choreographing for the English National Ballet, touring with Stars on Ice and producing ice shows such as Ice Adventures at Wembley, whilst also continuing to choreograph for other dancers. From 2006 to 2014 Torvill and Dean became prime-time TV favourites as coaches, choreographers and performers in ITV’s Dancing on Ice also taking the show on the road in their national UK tours.


I’d say Cinderella’s fine for any age.  It’s a little more subtle than some pantos so you’d have to be of a pretty delicate disposition to be offended by anything. Eight-year-old Zu, who can be a little reserved, was bouncing up and down in his seat, yelling

“He’s behind you”


“Oh no he doesn’t”

in all the right places! He’s the perfect age for panto and the enthusiastic audience participation which goes with it!

When the boys found out the show featured world-famous skaters, they were concerned it may lack a plot and dialogue but the storyline is clear and easy to follow.

Compared to most theatre visits, there’s very little etiquette to concern yourself with at the panto, which is great when taking young children.

Bright, flashing plastic objects are not only tolerated but they’re positively encouraged and sold at the theatre entrance! If you ask nicely you might even be lucky enough to have them modelled for you like this!


I think that having Torvill and Dean skating at our local panto and performing excerpts from their gold medal-winning Olympic performance is quite a coup. Once again I feel lucky to live just a few minutes drive from central Bristol where high-quality shows are available on a regular basis. Beforehand, when we explained to the boys about the world-famous skaters, they asked whether that meant there wouldn’t be much of a plot but the story is easy to follow. There are fun sequences like when we join Buttons and Cinderella on a carriage ride and the deluge of plays on words in the sweet tray section. The audience reaction is massively positive throughout and in the comments I hear afterwards!

I’m doing my best to avoid a ‘get on your skates and buy a ticket’ type of comment here but nonetheless, we’d recommend Cinderella as a great show for all the family. Thank you to the Bristol Hippodrome for hosting us and to all of the team for such a splendid show!


For up-to-date show information, read my full Bristol Hippodrome what’s on guide covering Bristol Theatre productions right up to date including pricing, booking information and links to reviews with age suitability guides.


Enjoyed our Cinderella review? Then check out other show reviews on Practically Perfect Mums

Million Dollar Quartet

Billy Elliot


Kiss Me Kate

Fiddler on the Roof

If you’re after some more Christmas spirit after reading that, check out our guide to the Best Santa Grottos in Bristol, North Somerset and Nearby, including booking information, ticket costs and accessibility details and some unusual and fun ways to see Father Christmas  like on a steam train, a boat or even on the pier.

For the festive vibe, you should also click through to my Guide to Christmas Ice Skating Rinks around Bristol this year. This handy article shows all the places you can ice skate in the area – both indoors AND outdoors. There are also fun festive alternatives, like ice bumper cars, ice training dolphins and seals! And I share the details of a brand-new destination for ice skating near Bristol in 2022 too!


Jarred Christmas – Buttons. Jarred is a comedian and actor whose fifteen years on the comedy circuit have catapulted him onto the small-screen in shows such as Mock the Week, Never mind the Buzzcocks, 8 out of 10 Cats, Russell Howard’s Good News and Let’s Dance for Comic Relief. He is also an accomplished actor, working with Warwick Davis both on stage and in the web series, Dwarves Assemble. Back on TV, Jarred has guest –starred in Hollyoaks Later, CBBC’s the Joke Machine, Jonathan Creek, New Tricks and Up the Women and recently hosted BBC NI’s series Monumental.

Rhiannon Chesterman –Cinderella. Rhiannon was part of the original cast of Mrs Henderson Presents in the World Premiere at the Theatre Royal Bath understudying the role of Maureen. She later reprised this role for the West End transfer at the Noel Coward Theatre. Other theatre credits include Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty & Hairspray.

Blair Gibson – The Prince. Blair graduated earlier this year from The MGA Academy of Performing Arts and this will be his second appearance as The Prince in Cinderella (Qdos Entertainment).

Samuel Holmes – Dandini. Samuel hails from Plymouth and has appeared in pantomimes Peter Pan, Cinderella & Aladdin. Musical theatre includes Mrs Henderson Presents,  SpamalotKiss Me Kate, White Christmas, Crazy For You, My Fair Lady, The Merry Widow & The Pirates of Penzance.

Anthony Houghton – Baron Hardup. Anthony’s most recent screen credits include a lead role in the British Feature Film Arcadia and the short film Class 15. Other credits include Poirot (ITV), Chucklevision (BBC), and Agent Z And The Penguin From Mars (BBC) and a lead in the British horror film Millbrook. Anthony’s theatre credits span over twenty five years and include lead roles in countless No1 National Tours and Rep Theatres all around the country, including the part of Tony Orford in Noel Coward’s Star Quality & the Ernie Wise character in the award winning The Play What I Wrote and eighteen pantomimes, to name just a few. Anthony has also worked as an Assistant and Associate Director on numerous productions and also directed From Boys To Men, the sequel to The Boys In The Band, (Jermyn Street Theatre, London).

Tim Hudson – Ugly Sister.  After training at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Tim joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, appearing in Hamlet with Kenneth Branagh, King Lear with Robert Stephens, and Ion with Jude Law. He then starred as Toad in Alan Bennett’s adaptation of The Wind in the Willows at the Old Vic and on a national tour. Tim played Officer Krupke in West Side Story in the West End and in 2005 portrayed Boris Johnson to critical acclaim in the smash hitWho’s the Daddy?  at the King’s Head Theatre. Tim has made numerous film and television appearances most recently in the BBC sitcom Father Figure starring Jason Byrne and is a prolific pantomime performer.

Charles Brunton – Ugly SisterBorn in SouthamptonCharles recently covered the role of Miss Trunchbull in both the West End and Broadway productions ofMatilda for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Charles was nominated for a Broadway World Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Miss Trunchbull.


13 comments… add one
  • Elizabeth (Wander Mum) 11/01/2017, 20:07

    I loved Torvill and Dean when I was little so would have enjoyed seeing this. I am very tickled my your husband’s 15 minutes of fame! Well done on doing Vlogmas too….that looked like a full-on challenge! #culturedkids

    • Jane Batt 11/01/2017, 20:30

      The fifteen minutes of fame were hilarious and Torvill and Dean were very good. Definitely worth seeing them in a show if you get the chance.

  • Nell (the Pigeon Pair and Me) 11/01/2017, 15:06

    They seem to sell those flashing plastic objects at all sorts of performances these days! I’d absolutely love to see Torvill and Dean – they’re childhood favourites of mine. And I suspect I’d look a bit happier about it than your husband! Hilarious that he was called out like that….:-) thanks for linking up with #CulturedKids xx

    • Jane Batt 11/01/2017, 16:04

      I think he was bored because we were messing around taking the obligatory selfies for social media but it was quite funny. He did enjoy the show though – really!!

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