ACTRESS Shorelle Hepkin is a firm believer in the great traditions of the Christmas pantomime.

The star of CBBC's Wolfblood is heading back to back in East Lancashire as part of Jack and the Beanstalk which comes to Oswaldtwistle next week and then will be at Cone Muni in the New Year.

"Pantomime is so important," said Shorelle, "It brings children back to being children again. The moment you can sense you have got them involved in the storyline, that's the moment we as a cast know we are doing our job right."

Shorelle plays Fairy Cupcake - "they know I like baking, so they came up with a suitable name for me" - in a classic tale of idle Jack, some magic beans and a scary giant.

This will be the third festive season that Shorelle has worked with East Lancashire's own 'Mr Pantomime' George Critchley and PMA Production.

"I just love coming back," she said. "This year particularly a lot of us have worked together before so we're all having a mini-reunion. It is like having a really tight family."

The touring nature of the show also appeals to Shorelle.

"It's amazing how you do get different reactions from different audiences depending where you are," she said. "That certainly makes you think on your feet because you then have to react to the audience. You never really know what is going to happen but that is one of the great things about pantomime."

As Fairy Cupcake, Shorelle is very much one of the goodies in the show.

"It does give me some freedom," she said, "and I do get to tell the story and have to make sure I get the kids to cheer the goodies and boo the baddies."

But would she ever think over going over to the dark side herself?

"Oh, being bad does appeal to me," she admitted, "but it's whether I could resist all the glitter that goes with being a fairy. I do love a bit of glitter."

Like so many other children, a visit to the pantomime has alway been an essential part of Christmas.

"When I was very young we'd always go and watch the panto and then I was in my first pantomime aged 11 and did one every year until I went to college. I suppose pantomime has always been part of my life really.

"But they are great fun to do and also for a lot of the kids, it is the first time they will ever experience a live theatre show."

Jack and the Beanstalk will keep Shorelle busy well into the new year although she will get a few days off to see her family back in Sheffield.

"Thankfully all the shows are no more than a couple of hours from Sheffield so I can make make some trips home and they can come and see me," she said.

As for next year, Shorelle is looking to develop her career further.

"Wolfblood has certainly helped to establish me but I will still have to battle others in auditions," she said.

"I have thought about forming a theatre company to help others. The skills you need for TV are not always taught in theatre schools so I have thought about doing workshops to give people confidence before they go for auditions.

"Acting on TV is so different to being in a theatre and I really like doing both although if pushed I'd have to say I truly love theatre."

Jack and the Beanstalk, Oswaldtwistle Civic Arts Centre and Theatre, public performances from Friday, December 2 to Sunday, December 4 (details from 01254 398319) and Colne Muni, Saturday, January 7 to Saturday, January 22 (01282 661234)