HE’S one of the best pantomime baddies in the business and boy does he make the most of his villainry!

Tom Lister is back on stage at Bath’s Theatre Royal after a six-year gap playing the evil Abanazar in its festive panto Aladdin – and it’s an absolute cracker!

Boy does he make the most of his character, after winning Best Villain at the inaugural Great British Pantomime Awards in 2016 for his role as Captain Hook!

He’s mean, he’s evil, and he clearly relishes a role that combines a fair dollop of melodramatic nastiness with boo-ability and a series of magic tricks involving doves and budgies that don’t quite work out.

He is one of the stars of a show that somewhat surprisingly contained more than a fair share of adult jokes, innuendos and risqué humour than I was expecting but it was all done in the best possible taste.

One of the most popular pantomimes of all, Aladdin is the thrilling story of a boy from a poor background, a magic lamp and a genie that has kept audiences spellbound for generations.

Families visiting this Christmas can look forward to a fun-packed performance full of topical jokes, slapstick comedy, singing, dancing, a sprinkling of special effects, beautiful costumes and sets and plenty of audience participation.

This year’s script has once again been written by local favourite Jon Monie, from Holt - now in his 20th season at the Theatre Royal - who also plays Aladdin’s idiotic brother, Wishee Washee.

He positively cruises through the production like a swan, while providing the perfect foil to Nick Wilton, returning for his fifth season as pantomime Dame Widow Twankey in her high heels, colourful socks and outrageously extravagant gowns.

The three main characters are more than ably supported by Amy Perry as an enchanting Spirit of the Ring, and Maddison Tyson, who just about steals every scene he is in as a camp Genie of the Lamp.

The young lovers Alex Aram as the Widow’s son Aladdin, and Kaysha Nada as the delectable Princess Jasmine, possess the looks and good singing voices, while Michael Chance is a suitably stern Emperor whose main concern in life is money.

The ensemble of backing dancers/singers gave it their all, and the children from the Dorothy Coleborn School of Dance were absolutely charming.

The Bath pantomime is renowned for being a traditional, family-friendly show that depends on clever scripts and solid stage performances without having to rely on expensive high-tech lighting and sound wizardry and special effects.

This year is no different: the perennial bench and ghost sketch is still in, but there were one or two departures from previous years, including magic tricks at the end for the children invited on stage.

For the adults, there’s a very risqué but tastefully done scene involving Aladdin and Wishee Washee dressed up like the Marx Brothers playing piano keys without using their hands.

The script also contains some topical references to parties at No.10 Downing Street, a reference to a certain Royal docuseries on Netflix, a threat to banish one of the characters to Melksham, and one or two jokes at the expense of Bath parking and local residents.

Jon Monie’s script keeps to the panto tradition, while adding in some fresh material, and certainly kept Saturday’s matinee audience thoroughly entertained.

All in all, Aladdin contains just the right amount of festive fun, frolics and comedy to put you in the right spirit for Christmas.

Aladdin runs until January 8. Tickets are on sale at the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 and online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk