Nigel Ellacott and Peter Robbins are probably closer than many real sisters. The duo have been starring as Cinderella's ugly stepsisters since their first panto together in Ilford in 1981.

Nigel says: "When we did it the first year, we said if the show was good, we would do it again next year, and it seemed to work."

Nigel and Peter were part of this production of Cinderella - starring Brian Conley as Buttons and Michelle Potter as Cinderella, and directed by Paul Elliott - which broke box office records in Birmingham last year, and Peter says: "We are like a family now. Paul is just the king of pantomimes in this country."

The duo have also appeared together on the Disney Channel, Ready Steady Cook, and Mirrorball with Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Saunders and Jane Horrocks. Peter is also an accomplished puppeteer, and has worked on films including Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island and Little Shop of Horrors.

But panto is what they are known for, with Nigel and Peter getting in the panto mode when most people have just recovered from the festive season, and are thinking about their summer holidays.

"It all picks up in February or March," Peter says. "Panto is not just for Christmas, it's for life."

And for him and Nigel, that couldn't be more true. They have set up a website - - dedicated to the art of pantomime.

Nigel also writes pantomimes (he has had 24 produced), and designs all the outlandish costumes worn by himself and Peter during the pantomime's run.

Peter laughs: "Brian (Conley) arrives with three costumes, and we turn up with two trucks."

They also like to spread their enjoyment of pantomime, and tour their Pantomime Roadshow every year, playing to children across the country.

Peter says: "Panto is its own separate art. I worked at a young age with Reg Dixon and Rennie Hulton and learnt so much by watching established greats."

Have Nigel and Peter seen any changes to panto during their long career? "The latest thing is that we can't throw sweets into the crowd, so we don't hit the children," Peter says. "I don't know how many people have been injured since 1900." He adds: "There are also concerns that children might get hyperactive on the sugar in the sweets, but it's a pantomime."

Both men - or women from December - love the atmosphere and tradition of panto, and Nigel says: "It is second nature to us. As soon as the make up goes on, we are in character."

Cinderella is at the Wycombe Swan from today (Friday) until Sunday, January 6, 2008. Details: 01494 512000 or

Watch a video of the Cinderella press launch here