Emmerdale actress enjoying her own fairy tale in Worthing panto

Emmerdale actress Sapphire Elia is Belle in this year’s family pantomime, Beauty and the Beast, at the Pavilion Theatre, Worthing from Friday, November 26 to Sunday, January 2.

Worthing panto
Worthing panto

Already it has been a year with its own fairy-tale silver lining for Sapphire: she got engaged this summer.

“We have been together for six years,” she says, “so I was hoping that it was coming. I had said to him that he would never be able to surprise me because if he did something really extravagant I would know that it was coming.

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“So when it happened it was actually low key and very, very romantic. He said let’s go for brunch and then he proposed and just as he proposed the clock behind Greenwich Chapel struck 12 just as we were hugging – just like the clock striking 12 in Cinderella! Except in reverse!

“We are going to get married in 2023. We want to have a year to wait and to do lots of bits and bobs and then we will get married in Cyprus (Sapphire being partly Cypriot).”

In the meantime, she’s looking forward to her panto stint in Worthing.

“This is my ninth or tenth panto. I think it might be the tenth, but I am not sure. There was a little bit of a gap between some of those. My first ever panto was just after Britannia High and just before Emmerdale. I was doing loads of TV and then I came back to panto.

“There is nothing else like it. I’m always trying to understand what it is that I love so much about panto and I think it’s because it feels like a safe space. It is safe place to be. You can just go out there and be more free. I love that aspect to it, just being on stage and in my career I generally don’t really have the chance to sing a whole bunch of covers. You just sing your heart out. And there is also a great camaraderie. There is a lot of camaraderie in the business but with something like panto there is a great intensity because you’re all virtually living in each other’s pockets and I just love that. I know it’s not for everyone but it’s definitely for me. Once you’ve got the bug, you’ve got the bug. It’s something that is really full on. You are doing three shows a day, day after day and you have got to really look after yourself, eat properly, not stay up crazy late, not go out to big parties. I’m drinking water all the time and I’m trying to think about what I’m eating. You just try to keep healthy. You are doing back to back shows so you’ve got to try to think ahead about what you’re going to eat otherwise you just end up eating junk.”

There are so many elements to a successful panto, Sapphire believes: “Everybody on the stage has got to look like they’re enjoying themselves and then the audience will feel feed off that. The comedy is also very important. With my role I don’t get to do very much of that but for me personally I love the songs and it is great just to nail the story and make it believable and magical for the children. I just love being a princess. Every girl fantasises about becoming a princess. I was always such a girly girl!”

Beauty and the Beast: The Pantomime runs from Friday November 26 to Sunday January 2 at the Pavilion Theatre, Marine Parade, Worthing. Tickets are available from £10. For more information or to book your tickets visit www.wtam.uk or call the WTM box office on 01903 206206.

This year’s cast features Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai McDowall starring as the Beast and Strictly Come Dancing’s Robin Windsor in the role of Gaston.

They will be joined by comedian and panto veteran Andre Vincent in the role of Dame Cherie Trifle and Ross Muir as Professor Crackpot. Beauty and the Beast also sees the return of Cinderella favourite Katie Pritchard in the role of Crepe Suzette, joined by on-stage twin Josh Haberfield as Philippe Philoppe. Pinocchio’s Dani Hardy returns to the Pavilion as the Enchantress.