Stars announced for this year's pantomime spectacular at Milton Keynes Theatre

Lesley Joseph and Rob Rinder take leading roles in festive extravaganza after previous acclaimed seasons together

Rob Rinder is the Man In The Mirror
Rob Rinder is the Man In The Mirror

Lesley Joseph will be heading from Chigwell to Milton Keynes this Christmas to star as the Wicked Queen in Milton Keynes Theatre’s pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Lesley will be joined by Rob Rinder, who will be reprising his role as the mischievous the Man In The Mirror, after a critically-acclaimed panto season together last year in Bristol.

Birds of a Feather favourite Lesley Joseph's remarkable career has seen her appear on stage in dramas, musicals and reviews in the West End and across the UK and on every major television channel. Lesley has starred as Miss Hannigan in Annie and Mrs Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie as well as appearing in Home directed by Sir Peter Hall.

Lesley Joseph stars as the Wicked Queen

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    In 2018 she starred in the musical adaptation of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein in London’s West End starring as Frau Blücher, a role for which she was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical. No stranger to pantomime, Lesley stars in productions to audience and critical acclaim every festive season.

    Lesley said: “I am thrilled to be appearing at Milton Keynes Theatre again as I played Miss Hannigan in the first ever production (Annie) at the theatre in 1999. I am also thrilled to be working with my friend Rob Rinder who was wonderful last year in Bristol. This should be a season to remember!”

    Rob Rinder has been presiding over cases in his TV courtroom since 2014 as Judge Rinder, and came fifth in the 2016 season of Strictly Come Dancing competing against Lesley Joseph. Rob was awarded a Bafta award for an episode of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are where he explored his Jewish heritage, and last year presented a critically acclaimed BBC documentary series My Family, The Holocaust & Me. He has appeared on Celebrity Gogglebox, was crowned winner of All Star Musicals and is a columnist for the Evening Standard and the Sun.

    Rob said: “After last year’s joyous Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it felt terribly wrong to keep my magic mirror in Bristol. I’m delighted to be sharing my sparkling reflections with the people of Milton Keynes this year. Lesley Joseph’s Wicked Queen should beware!”

    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is staged by Crossroads Pantomimes, the world’s biggest pantomime producer, led by Michael Harrison and the creative team behind recent Milton Keynes Theatre successes including last year’s production of Jack and the Beanstalk.

    Producer Michael Harrison said: “Following the huge success of their panto partnership last year, I am delighted that we are able to bring the comic talents of Lesley Joseph and Rob Rinder back together for our Milton Keynes production. Audiences are in for a real treat with this magical version of the classic fairytale, which will feature breathtaking effects built especially for us by The Twins FX, and plenty of panto fun for the whole family.”

    Audiences can look forward to a show spectacularly brought to life with an abundance of side-splitting comedy, sensational special effects and plenty of festive magic.

    Further casting will be announced later in the year.

    Milton Keynes Theatre director Emma Sullivan said: “It only seems like last week we were saying goodbye to the cast of our hugely successful panto Jack and the Beanstalk, so we’re thrilled to announce our 2022 panto stars so early in the year. We can’t wait to meet Lesley Joseph and Rob Rinder, and have no doubt they will put on a brilliantly entertaining show for us all!"

    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs begins its spirited adventure at Milton Keynes Theatre from Saturday December 10 2022 until Sunday January 8 2023 with tickets from £13. Visit atgtickets.com/MiltonKeynes to book or for more information.

    More about Lesley Joseph

    Lesley is best known for playing Dorien Green, the neighbour from hell, in the sitcom Birds of a Feather, alongside Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson. Having recorded over 130 episodes, Dorien Green became a national institution, with the show watched at its height by 23 million people. In 2018, Lesley starred as Frau Blücher in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein at the Garrick Theatre. The performance earned Lesley an Olivier Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.

    After this, Lesley toured the country in Annie the Musical, reprising her role as Miss Hannigan, and also starred in Calendar Girls the Musical.

    She has a wealth of theatrical experience to her credit, in virtually all aspects of the business, having trained at LAMDA before carving out a career for herself on stage. Her roles in theatre have been varied from appearing in the Sir Peter Hall’s production of Home, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mrs Meers in Thoroughly Modern Millie, Piaf by Pam Gems, Frosine in The Miser with Ian Richardson, Dooniasha in The Cherry Orchard, to Hortense in The Boyfriend amongst others. She toured with Edward Hardwicke in Office Suite by Alan Bennett, and produced and starred in Singular Women, a one-woman show written by Stewart Permutt, at The King's Head. It was in Exclusive Yarns, written by Gary Lyons and Stewart Permutt, at the Comedy Theatre that Lesley was seen by Laurence Marks, which led to Birds of a Feather.

    To families in every corner of Britain, Lesley Joseph is also well known for her work in pantomimes. She toured with John Nettles for eight years in Dick Whittington, and it was at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton that Michael Aspel presented her with the big red book for This Is Your Life. On television, she starred in the ITV soap Night and Day for nearly two years. Other TV appearances include Rumble with Brian Glover, Easy Money, Spywatch, Minder, Roots, The Knowledge and many others. She played Green Beryl in the Channel 5 series The Secret of Eel Island and guest-starred as Erica in the BBC’s The Slammer. Lesley has appeared in scores of light entertainment shows; she had a regular spot on GMTV for three years as well as presenting on Wish You Were Here. Lesley has also hosted a highly successful weekly talk show on BBC London and was honoured to have a rose named after her at the Chelsea Flower Show. Lesley also donned her dancing shoes as one of the contestants in 2016 Strictly Come Dancing with dance partner Anton du Beke. Lesley then joined the hit Strictly Come Dancing National Arena Tour.

    Recently, Lesley starred in Channel 4’s Celebrity Coach Trip and was crowned the winner alongside Linda Robson. She also appeared in the BBC’s Pilgrimage: The Road To Rome, where she embarked on a pilgrimage from the Swiss Alps to Rome and met the Pope.

    More about Rob Rinder

    Rob Rinder MBE appeared in the West End in the National Youth Theatre and then gave up acting after university instead qualifying as a Barrister specialising in crime, international money laundering and human rights law. In 2014, while still a practising Barrister, he began starring in his reality court show Judge Rinder, now in it’s eighth series; and uses his legal knowledge working in the media to make the law more accessible and understandable to the public, regularly appearing on shows such as This Morning and Good Morning Britain.

    Alongside Judge Rinder, Rob has also presented shows including Judge Rinder’s Crime Stories and his own chat show on Channel 4 The Rob Rinder Verdict as well as hosting his own BBC Radio 5 Live series Raising the Bar aiming to demystify the legal system. His participation in series fifteen of Who Do You Think You Are? retraced the story of his Holocaust survivor Grandfather and received critical acclaim. Following this Rob made a two-part documentary My Family, the Holocaust and Me exploring further his own family’s Holocaust stories and is making further documentaries in 2022 about history and culture.

    Along with his screen work Rob has published Rinder’s Rules which provides a thorough guide to everyday legal issues including sections on jargon-busting, consumer rights and common mistakes. He is also a columnist for The Sun and the London Evening Standard newspapers. Rob is happy to be reprising his role as The Man in the Mirror at Milton Keynes Theatre, following his first appearance in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Bristol Hippodrome in December 2021.