FROM the opening scene featuring the citizens of London, the Garrick’s Panto warms the hearts of young and old.

There are no smutty jokes though it’s full of fun as it tells the tale of Dick Whittington and his wonderful Cat as he seeks his fortune in London.

The script is written by Alan Clements who also directs it. He’s a master of the art of panto and the cast soon has the kids at the matinee performance shouting “He’s Behind You.”

They love every minute and shout their heads off every time a gorilla appears.

Dick Whittington is played by a thigh slapping Meg Royle with a gorgeous voice. Her girlfriend, Alice, (Clare Louise Garrett) sings equally well and their duet sends shivers down your spine. No microphones needed here!

Phil Edwards returns as the Dame singling out someone called Nigel sitting on the front row for special taunting. Nigel is a great sport. Phil and Peter Brassington’s Idol Jack keep the kids amused.

Mike Shaw, who plays the baddy, King Rat, gets his just deserts at the end from Daisy Brocklehurst’s clever cat and, throughout, from the booing, jeering kids.

In contrast, the scene representing fish and sea creatures apparently swimming across the stage is haunting.

The dancing, too, is second to none. From the hornpipe to gentle ballet movements, they are a joy to watch.

Mike Shaw and his team of helpers must be congratulated on the colourful costumes.

This is panto at its best.

• Dick Whittington and his Wonderful Cat runs until January 2 and includes some matinees.

For tickets, much in demand, telephone 0161 928 1677 or book online. Star rating: * * * *