It’s big, brash and action-packed – and that’s just the Hippodrome’s best Christmas gimmick yet – Titan the Robot.

The same could also be said of this exciting, colourful panto which only stalls half way through part two.

After playing Aladdin last year, Robin Hood has been specially written for returning star John Barrowman.

And doesn’t he let you know it! Referencing Tom Cruise, the Torchwood star immodestly adds: “But I’ve got the full package.”

True, the versatile Barrowman has now added skating to his panto repertoire. But, were he to sing Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic this badly on The X Factor, he’d surely be booted off.

And he’s no comedy giant, either. Brian Conley, Joe Pasquale and Solihull’s own Malcolm Stent all know how to quietly inspire children brought to the stage – ie, don’t keep shouting!

Moreover, after his recent, lewd antics in a radio studio, you’d think Barrowman would grow up. Instead, a script supposedly aimed at families is ludicrously overloaded with “gay” gags.

Even a puppet with the marvellous ventriloquist and prospective future bill-topper Paul Zerdin has to say: “I’m so merry, I’m almost gay.”

Already a veteran panto dame extraordinaire, our 64-year-old home-grown star Don Maclean is magnificent as Friar Tuck, switching gender guises with ease.

Like Zerdin, he has a warmth on stage which will always elude Barrowman the show-off.

Robin Hood’s sets are world class, but the choice of songs is most odd.

Burning Love is sung twice and then we get High School Musical for a second year, even though it’s also now on at the Alex.

Why not give us a blast of the Midlands’ own super hits, like Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday or Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody?

* Robin Hood runs until February 1. Call 0844 338 5000 or visit