A bone and a basket will no doubt be backstage at this year’s panto in Darlington – Ashleigh and Pudsey are coming to town.
The six-legged double act won the sixth Britain’s Got Talent contest in 2012 and have been going flat out ever since.
Next month (April 9 and 10) the pair are playing Dorothy and Toto at Playhouse Whitley Bay in a stage version of The Wizard of Oz.
If you love them there, you can catch them again in Cinderella at Darlington Civic Theatre from December 5 to January 10, 2016.
They like double acts in Darlington. Where the Chuckle Brothers led in 2014/15, Ashleigh Butler and her “border collie, bichon frise and Chinese crested powderpuff cross” (courtesy Wikipedia) are set to follow.
You can’t help wondering: does anyone ask Pudsey before signing the contract?
While Ashleigh turned 20 on February 7, and is therefore in her prime, her four-legged friend will be 10 on December 28, mid-way through the Darlington run, which would make her a pensioner in human terms.
But perhaps after being feted by Simon Cowell, the Britain’s Got Talent judge who deemed them “one of my favourite acts”, and appearing in a film called Pudsey the Dog: The Movie, which shamefully eluded the Oscar and Bafta judges, a panto run is merely a stroll in the park.
The truth is, this panto business is becoming routine.
The pair have donned the festive greasepaint (and the doggy equivalent) for the past three Christmas seasons so they know what’s in store.
And they will get a warm welcome in Darlo. Theatre director Lynda Winstanley said: “We are absolutely thrilled to announce that Ashleigh and Pudsey will be with us for Cinderella and I am sure they will be a great hit with audiences of all ages.”
Michael Harrison, Geordie director of Qdos Entertainment’s panto division, is seldom wrong about these things. Having given Danny and Clive to Newcastle Theatre Royal, he has no qualms about casting the ITV talent show winners in Darlington.
“The success that Ashleigh and Pudsey have enjoyed since winning Britain’s Got Talent is tribute to the popularity and versatility of the act,” he says.
“Everyone from The Queen to the cinema-going millions have enjoyed Ashleigh and Pudsey’s tricks and routines, which will feature heavily in this year’s panto.”
Lets hope Pudsey gets on well with rats, ponies and pumpkins.
For Darlington panto tickets tel. 01325 486555 or visit www.darlingtoncivic.co.uk