Colmans Owner Richard Ord with Dame Bella Ballcock

Dame gears up for fin-tastic role

Thou shalt have a fishy on a little dishy…

Dame Bella Ballcock has taken over the kitchen at Colmans in South Shields – trying her hand at battering fish instead of her long-suffering son, Arbuthnot.

But don’t worry – she’ll be back in the castle kitchen soon enough!

Colmans is sponsoring this year’s panto at The Customs House – The Lambton Worm – a tale that starts with a very odd-looking fish.

Owner Richard Ord said: “Colmans is delighted and proud to be a sponsor again for this year’s wonderful panto at The Customs House, The Lambton Worm.

“It really is the little panto with the big heart. It brings so much happiness to all the families who see it and remains the highlight of the Christmas season for our wonderful borough.”

Colmans was established in 1926 and its restaurant and take-away on Ocean Road, South Shields, has been judged and praised by some of the country’s leading chefs, gaining many national and regional awards.

Earlier this year, Colmans Seafood Temple opened on the seafront in South Shields, with an iconic design integrating the former bandstand known as Ghandi’s Temple.

Ray Spencer, executive director of The Customs House, who co-writes and directs the panto and stars as Dame Bella, said: “We are thrilled that Colmans are once again one of our sponsors and it was great to get into my role as the castle cook by going ‘backstage’ at an award-winning restaurant.

“By cod we’re looking forward to this year’s show – The Customs House is the plaice to be this Christmas. With two love interests this year, Dame Bella will be fishing for compliments and Arbuthnot is a chip off the old block.”

The Lambton Worm has been written in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the famous north east folk song of the same name, which tells the legend of John Lambton’s battle against a fearsome beast that had been terrorising local villages.

The ‘worm’ had grown from a smaller creature that John had caught as a child and discarded down a well.

The cast also includes David John Hopper as Arbuthnot, Steven Lee Hamilton as The Brave and Bold Sir John Lambton, Georgia Nicholson as Poison Pen from Penshaw, Natasha Haws as Susie the Soothsayer, Eleanor Chaganis as The Princess, Gareth Hunter as The Sultan, Cal Halbert as Lord Larry Lambton and Lewis Jobson as Puddles the Dog.

The Lambton Worm runs until Saturday, January 6, 2018, with ticket prices starting at £9.99. Performance times vary. Contact the box office on (0191) 454 1234 or book online at

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