Liverpool comic John Bishop to star in TV drama about pantomime

What a pantomime - a new TV venture for John Bishop Photo: PA Pictures

Liverpudlian comic John Bishop is to star in a new TV comedy drama which he co-wrote, set in the world of pantomime.

The funnyman - who made his TV acting debut in BBC1's The Accused in the summer - will appear alongside Sheridan Smith in the ITV1 film Panto!

The festive programme, to be screened next month, will also feature one-hit wonder Chesney Hawkes.

Bishop wowed the nation earlier this year when he cycled, rowed and ran from Paris to London over five consecutive days.

He created the new production - which looks behind the scenes in pantoland - with Coronation Street and Gimme Gimme Gimme writer Jonathan Harvey.

Bishop is to play a cheeky local DJ, Lewis Loud, from Morecambe FM making his panto debut in the Grand Theatre Lancaster's seasonal show Dick Whittington. During rehearsals he falls for TV celebrity Tamsin (played by Smith), who is better known for her screen soap role as "Mad Mindy The Axe Murderer".

Co-star Sheridan Smith Credit: PA Pictures

Bishop said: "In 2006 I left my job. That Christmas I appeared in a local panto. It was there I fell in love with that world and came up with the idea of a comedy drama, which has now evolved into Panto!

"To be making this six years later for ITV1 is really very exciting. The script I've written with Jonathan Harvey is something I'm immensely proud of, and the cast are all brilliant - and we've even got Chesney Hawkes. What more could anyone wish for this Christmas?"

ITV comedy commissioner Myfanwy Moore said: "We're delighted that the very talented John Bishop and company are going to entertain our audience at Christmas, with such a glittery and heart-warming treat of a show."