PANTO stars have stepped in to save the day after a pop star pulled out of turning on Colchester Christmas lights just days after she was announced.

Tallia Storm was due to help Colchester mayor Nick Cope and Father Christmas to mark the official start of the festive season next Sunday, December 1.

But she was forced to step down due to what has been described as a “conflicting TV commitment”.

Instead panto stars Dale Superville and Antony Stuart-Hicks, who are starring in the Mercury Theatre’s Cinderella Pantomime, will assist with the festive switch-on.

The duo, who play the ugly step sisters, will wow crowds with a skit and drum up festive fever before helping Mr Cope and Santa turn on the festive display in Colchester High Street.

The switch-on will take place at 5pm following entertainment from a wide selection of artists including bands, choirs and street performers.

Tracey Childs, who is the executive producer at the Mercury Theatre, said: “We’re delighted to be part of this event in the heart of the town, and don’t forget you can see more of our gruesome twosome and the rest of our fabulous cast in Cinderella at Mercury at Abbey Field.”

Braintree and Witham Times:

Families can enjoy a host of festive fun in Colchester town centre which starts at 2.30pm.

In Culver Square, there will be performances from Colchester Citadel Salvation Army, Colchester Military Wives and the Rock Choir from 11am. Special guests Elsa and Anna, from Disney’s Frozen, will be in the centre for shoppers to meet before they switch on the lights and fill the square with snow at 5pm.

In addition to the two Christmas lights switch-ons, Trinity Street, South Lanes and Lion Walk shopping centre will be hosting a Christmas market on December 1 from 11am to 3pm.

The event will feature the unique retail offering from the independent shops as well as stalls, entertainment, food and drink.

And the Minories art gallery is staging its annual Christmas market from 10am to 4pm showcasing artists and makers from near and far. There will be the chance to grab a glass of mulled wine and 45 stalls to browse as well as a festive storytelling hour with Jan Williams.

Cinderella runs at the Mercury Theatre at Abbey Field until January 5.