STRICTLY’S very own panto villain will be starring in this year’s production in Southend - and tickets are already selling like hot cakes.

Craig Revel Horwood, 48, popular for his scathing put-down’s on BBC’s hit show Strictly Come Dancing, will appear in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves when it comes to the Cliffs Pavilion this Christmas.

And, such is his popularity, more than £100,000 worth of tickets, that’s about 4,000 tickets, have already been sold for the show, considerably up on sales for this time last year.

Eastenders actor Shane Ritchie starred as Buttons in the 2012 Christmas panto which ran over two weeks and sold more than 46,000 seats raising £1.2million - breaking the venue’s record.

Revel Horwood will play the Wicked Queen although no other cast members have so far been confirmed. The High Wycombe production also stars Anne Widdecombe as a lady-in-waiting.

Paul Driscoll, spokesman for the Cliffs, said: “We are really excited about this year’s production and delighted to welcome Craig Revel Horwood to the Cliffs.

“Last year people see Shane Ritchie as ‘one of our own’ and his popularity in Essex as a good, down to earth, approachable, cheeky chappie comedian, is loved by all.”

The Cliffs has seen enthusiasm and bookings for its pantomimes increase year by year and believes this Christmas’s spectacular could be the most successful ever.

It will open on Friday, December 13 and will run for three weeks.

Basildon’s Towngate Theatre has reported record-breaking attendance for its latest production - Peter Pan.

The pantomime, which closed on Sunday, saw almost 25,000 people and more than 30 schools attend during the month long run.

Basildon councillor Kevin Blake, cabinet member for leisure and arts, said: “This year has been incredible, seeing a rise of almost 4,000 customers attending, which is fantastic, and I think shows how important the theatre is to the local community."

An announcement on next years show at the Towngate is set to be made next week when it will go on sale.