PETER PAN at the Beck Theatre, Hayes, until January 4. Opening night review Friday, December 12

IF you are looking for a traditional family pantomime with fairies, fighting, and loads of festive fun, there is one right on your doorstep which is not to be missed.

People are flying in from all corners of the borough with no strings attached (a joke for the grown-ups) to enjoy the panto version of Peter Pan at our very own Beck Theatre, sponsored by the Gazette.

There are so many reasons to take your children to Peter Pan; not only is it a change from seeing them glued to a computer, it is also a great introduction to interactive theatre. Also, being based (loosely) on a great classic, you never know, they may feel inclined to read it later on.

Purists of the JM Barrie story should not expect a highbrow version - I saw RSC actor Dorothy Tutin play the role brilliantly in the 1970s - but the gaps are filled lovingly with the traditional tricks of pantomania which Christmas theatre (barring the nativity of course) is all about.

Star of the show, Leslie Grantham, transfers well to stage (not all TV actors do) and he only frightens the children long enough for them to enjoy it - though he scared me when he threatened us all with a third runway at Heathrow.

As Captain Hook he looks grumpy enough to convince us he is willing to poison a fairy or make a lost boy walk the plank. before, amusingly, lightening up with a song or a joke.

Toby Hull (son of Rod) also lightens the load - and you'll be glad to hear this Emu has marginally better manners than the rude relative who famously attacked Parkinson on his chat show.

Joe Tracini is a fun Peter, and Sarah Brown, a delightful Wendy, while soulful Lyneah Johnson, as Tiger Lily in skimpy squaw outfit, is definitely one for the dads. Leanne Fury's performance as a squeaky-voiced, roller-booted, Tinkerbell is unusual, but surprisingly, it works.

Children's champion though, is undoubtedly Mark Jones as a smashing Smee, who is at the heart of all the kiddie stuff (Oh no you're not; it's behind you, etc) and he was particularly great with the youngsters who joined him on stage.

I also enjoyed him suddenly clocking the crocodile was still on stage and clearly couldn't see the way to the wings ... so he helped him off. If it was a mistake, please keep it in!

The youngsters can cheer the goodies, boo the baddies (I particularly liked helping the children throw foam 'bricks' at the villains) and most importantly, see good triumphing over evil.

All the child performers are topnotch and it is particularly poignant when Wendy gives them a traditional description of a loving family when asked by the lost boys what is the point of parents: 'Mums are for looking after you and dads protect their children from danger'. Oldfashioned, stereotypical maybe, but strangely comforting.

At the end of the show Wendy's mother tells Peter Pan that everyone has to grow up, but not in panto land they don't - not even the Hillingdon councillors, Gazette editor and deputy mayor who were carried along by the panto banter and the fun of the first night

I understand council leader Ray Puddifoot is itching to get back to teach his crew, sorry, cabinet, to sing panto favourite 'I'm Following the Leader' when he returns to business. Oh yes he is.

Go and see it. Take an infant. Or see it through a child's eyes.

* To book or for price information: phone: 020 8561 8371 or book online