Lily James and Oliver Chris to star in BBC’s Beauty And The Beast panto

Lily James and Oliver Chris will star in a star-studded pantomime of Beauty And The Beast as part of a new BBC Christmas tradition.

They will take the leading roles in the BBC Two version of the fairy tale where an unlikely romance forms between a cursed beast and his warm-hearted prisoner.

The festive show for Comic Relief follows last year’s production of Cinderella, which starred Rege-Jean Page, Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter, Anya Taylor-Joy and Daniel Craig, and raised nearly £900,000.

Man Like Mobeen’s Guz Khan, who played Buttons in Cinderella, will return as Bonzo in this year’s production, joined by Kiell Smith-Bynoe, from Ghosts, as Beauty’s brother Jacques, with Sian Gibson as their mother, and Susan Wokoma, from Chewing Gum, as Amelie.

Sian Gibson
Sian Gibson will play Beauty’s mother (PA)

James is no stranger to fairy tales, having played Cinderella in Disney’s 2015 film version, while Chris is a stage and screen actor who has featured in Green Wing and Endeavour.

Peter Kay’s Car Share actress Gibson said: “I thought my panto career was behind me, but oh no it’s not!

“Just thrilled I’ve not been asked to play the beast actually. It’s going to be lots of Christmassy fun and a great chance to raise crucial funds for such a wonderful charity.”

Inbetweeners star Simon Bird, Call The Midwife actress Pam Ferris and Celia Imrie from Better Things will also take part, with singer-songwriter Tom Rosenthal cast as Mr Bell.

The pantomime also promises cameos from Miranda Hart, Lenny Henry, David Tennant, David Walliams and Michael Sheen.

Rosenthal said: “The chance to act alongside Simon Bird is an opportunity I cannot turn down, seemingly.”

Sir Quentin Blake will once again be providing illustrations for the production.

Comic Relief co-founder Richard Curtis said: “I don’t know that we’ve ever done anything for Comic Relief which was more full of a sense of fame and fun – last year the show made nearly a million pounds, and I’m really hoping that Beauty And The Beast will also raise a beautiful amount of cash for all our brilliant projects at a pretty beastly time.”

Beauty And The Beast: A Comic Relief Pantomime for Christmas will air on December 19 at 9pm on BBC Two.