FRESH from the arid plains of Namibia in The British Tribe Next Door, I’m a Celebrity and Gogglebox star Scarlett Moffatt is setting up camp in Sunderland this festive season, stepping into the magical role of the fairy godmother in Sunderland Empire's Cinderella.

Joining the Bishop Auckland star will be the undisputed Queen of North-East comedy Miss Rory (aka Dan Cunningham) as the feisty Rorina Hardup, alongside Duncan Burt as her equally ugly sister Ruby. Also starring are Nick Jnr’s Gemma Naylor (Go! Go! Go!) as Cinderella, ITV’s Superstars finalist Jon Moses as the Prince and the hilarious Tom Whalley as Buttons.

“I am not only absolutely delighted to be bringing such a fabulous line-up of stars to this year’s pantomime, but also that many of them are home grown in the North-East," says producer Martin Dodd, of UK Productions. "They may work nationally and internationally, but there is only one place that they want to be for Christmas and that’s at home in the beautiful Sunderland Empire.”

What's On talks to Scarlett about her upcoming role...

How do you feel about making your panto debut at Sunderland Empire?

I am so excited, Sunderland Empire has a special place in my heart. It’s my favourite theatre and I come to visit at least once month whether it’s catching a musical, getting all Christmassy at the panto or pretending to be posh watching the ballet.

As the Queen of Northern banter, what do you have in store for audiences?

That’s a compliment if ever I’ve heard one. I’d like to bring what most northerners bring to the party; humour, witty sarcasm and lots of fun.

We hear you were taught your dance moves by Strictly Come Dancing pro Anton du Beke – will we see your twinkle toes in action for panto?

Yes, I went to a few of his workshops and I am actually a qualified teacher for the UKA in ballroom and Latin dancing. I’m excited to dust off the old dance shoes and get flossing (if that’s what the cool kids still do).

You’ll be sharing the stage with Dan Cunningham, aka Miss Rory – what tricks do you have up your sleeve to tame this feisty Queen of North-East comedy?

I don’t think Miss Rory needs taming. It’s what makes the character unique I will be fully embracing the feistiness, and I’ll just make sure she minds her P’s and Qs as an Ugly Sister.

Which Bush Tucker trial would you make the Ugly Sisters do?

Wow I feel those two are very mean, they need a taste of their own medicine. So I’d have them do a drinking trial of blended fish guts, fish eyes and flies.

If you could be Fairy Godmother for a day in real life, what would you do?

I would use my magic to make everybody see the best in each other and hopefully spread happiness throughout all the land, plus I’d let everybody get free McDonald’s for the day.

From Gogglebox, I'm A Celeb, Streetmate to Saturday Night Takeaway, you’ve been a popular face over the years - what has been your career highlight to date?

Wow this is such a difficult one, but it has to be performing alongside the legends that are Ant and Dec on main street Disneyland Florida as Mary Poppins. I love singing and dancing and to play Mary for the day alongside my heroes singing supercalifragilistic at the top of my voice is a feeling I wish I could bottle up and give to everybody.

You’re clearly proud of your roots – what keeps you grounded when you are in the spotlight?

I am so proud of the North-East. The support I got from everybody when I was in I’m A Celebrity and being crowned queen of the jungle could not have been done without the love I got from my fellow northerners. I travel to London every week, but I still live up here and never want that to change. I’m still the same girl who goes to my mam and dad's to watch the TV and loves a bargain, only now I wear my bargain shoes to walk the red carpet.

Watching TV put you into the spotlight – what is your current TV fix?

There’s so much great TV right now. I love magic and girl power so when I’m not watching Disney princess movies, I’m watching Fleabag, Killing Eve and This Country, all amazing shows you can binge watch, all written by remarkable women.

How will you be preparing for your role?

I feel like this role was made for me. The Fairy Godmother was always my favourite character in pantomimes since I was a little girl. Plus I feel like all of my dreams have come true, so it’s time to grant somebody else’s theirs.

  • Cinderella: Sunderland Empire, Friday, December 13 to Sunday, January 5. Tickets from the Box Office on High Street West, from the Ticket Centre on 0844-871-3022 or online at