TV & Movies

Lily James Leads Another Disney Classic For BBC's 2021 Christmas Panto

The star-studded BBC production will be in collaboration with Comic Relief.

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 02: Lily James arrives at The Fashion Awards 2019 held at Royal Albert Ha...
Neil Mockford/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Back for another year, BBC Two is hosting a star-studded Christmas pantomime in aid of Comic Relief featuring Lily James, Celia Imrie and Simon Bird, alongside other famous faces.

The new panto comes after the successful ‘stay-at-home’ Cinderella Christmas pantomime that screened in 2020, starring the likes of Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter, Regé-Jean Page and Daniel Craig. It raised nearly £900,000 for Comic Relief.

This year, BBC Two is adapting the much-loved tale of Beauty and the Beast. According to the network, their “unique interpretation” promises to include “some clever cameras tricks, surprising moments of comedy and of course big guest stars.”

This version is adapted by Ben Crocker, Dawson Bros, and Richard Curtis, with illustrations from Quentin Blake. So if you’re looking for the perfect addition to your Christmas watchlist, here’s everything you need to know.

Beauty & The Beast Christmas Panto Plot

As far as we know, the plot will be told in a largely traditional manner. As described by the BBC, the story follows the “unlikely romance between a cursed beast and his warm-hearted prisoner”.

When Belle, named Beauty in this version, offers herself to be imprisoned in the Beast’s castle in place of her father, the Beast learns how to love again. This classic tale will have the pantomime treatment — so expect a few comical twists and turns on the way.

Beauty & The Beast Christmas Panto Cast

The cast is full of familiar faces this festive season. Belle will be played by Lily James (Cinderella, The Pursuit of Love) and the Beast by Oliver Chris (Motherland). Guz Khan (Man Like Mobeen) will play this year’s narrator as Bonzo.


Beauty and the Beast will be joined by:

  • Kiell Smith-Bynoe (Ghosts) as Beauty’s brother Jacques
  • Sian Gibson (Car Share) who plays their mother, Ma
  • Susan Wokoma (Enola Holmes) stars as Amelie
  • Celia Imrie as Malabelle (Keeping Faith)
  • Simon Bird as Remy (Friday Night Dinner)
  • Pam Ferris as Marie (Call The Midwife)
  • Finally, singer–songwriter Tom Rosenthal as Mr Bell

We can also expect guest stars to pop in and out throughout the pantomime, including David Tennant, Michael Sheen, David Walliams, Lenny Henry and Miranda Hart.

Sian Gibson joked, “I thought my panto career was behind me, but oh no it's not! I’m so thrilled to be taking part in this year’s Comic Relief pantomime for BBC Two, Beauty And The Beast. Just thrilled I’ve not been asked to play the Beast actually.”

Tom Rosenthal added, “The chance to act alongside Simon Bird is an opportunity I cannot turn down, seemingly. Beauty and the Beast: A Comic Relief Pantomime will be the best thing to happen to Zoom since the Handforth Parish Council.”

When Is The Beauty & The Beast Air Date?

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

If you want to watch last year’s Cinderella, it is available to stream on BBC iPlayer now.