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Panto comedian Ben Langley ‘overwhelmed’ with public response after being told he will not return in 2019

PUBLISHED: 11:38 09 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:37 09 January 2019

Norwich Theatre Royal's 2018 pantomime - Aladdin. Ben Langley as Wishee Washee, Richard Gauntlett as Widow Twankey and Steven Roberts as Aladdin. Picture: Simon Finlay Photography

Norwich Theatre Royal's 2018 pantomime - Aladdin. Ben Langley as Wishee Washee, Richard Gauntlett as Widow Twankey and Steven Roberts as Aladdin. Picture: Simon Finlay Photography

2018

Norfolk actor Ben Langley says he has been “overwhelmed” with the response from audience-goers after it was announced he would not return for the 2019 Norwich pantomime.

The Britain’s Got Talent star will not be in the 2019 cast after performing at Norwich Theatre Royal for the past five years.

The comedian, from Shimpling near Diss, was told by the producer that the show is going in a “new direction” for this year’s production of Cinderella.

Mr Langley, who is currently starring as Wishee Washee in Aladdin, revealed the news on Twitter after a fan tweeted him saying they had already booked tickets to see him in Cinderella.

But now, in a video posted to Twitter Mr Langley said: “This is a message just to say how overwhelmed and taken back I am from all your responses.

Ben Langley made a surprise visit to a super fan Credit: Paula DunleavyBen Langley made a surprise visit to a super fan Credit: Paula Dunleavy

“I really have loved performing for you for the last five years in the show and taking my pantomime workshops out to schools across this county. I’d just like to say thank you.”

The message comes after multiple petitions were set up calling for Mr Langley to be brought back.

The combined petitions have nearly 3,000 signatures between them. David Perkins created one after his daughter Katie, nine, attended last year’s pantomime and heard that Mr Langley would not be returning.

The father-of-three from Chapel Break, Norwich, said: “Katie attends Fred Nicholson School for special needs in Dereham.

Ben Langley as Wishee Washee Credit: Rosa Maria HughesBen Langley as Wishee Washee Credit: Rosa Maria Hughes

“On her return she had to show her homework and tell everyone about her Christmas in class, she had them in stitches laughing, it really did make her so happy after a tough year.

“Needless to say, she was so upset that Ben wouldn’t be returning so I began the campaign to keep him for the next panto season, she was so looking forward to it.

“The response has been out of this world from the public and other people campaigning.”

As well as the petitions, a hashtag has been created, #savebenlangley, with the aim of spreading the campaign’s message.

Mr Langley’s departure has not been confirmed by the Theatre Royal and a spokesman said they would not be making any casting announcements “until later in January”.

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