Gemma Oaten has joined pantomime 'Beauty and the Beast'.

Gemma Oaten

Gemma Oaten

The former 'Emmerdale' actress will star as Belle in the production at London's Shaw Theatre from December 8th to the 30th - but she has appealed to pals to potentially put her up on Christmas Day (25.12.18) in the capital city, should she struggle to make it back to her hometown of Hull.

She wrote: "My first panto in London. Excited much?! @shawtheatreldn #enchantedentertainment

Yes Belle. That yellow dress? YESSSSS! London friends... Would love to see you there and also... If anyone fancies an extra for Xmas day in case I don't get home to hull... let me know (sic)"

Gemma will be joined in the panto by Paul Hutton, who will star as Silly Billy, The Rocky Horror Show's Ceris Hine (Good Fairy) and Sebastian Hill, who will play the Prince.

The 34-year-old star - who played Rachel Breckle in the ITV soap - has been inundated with fan support following the announcement, including a message from her former 'Emmerdale' co-star Bhasker Patel (Rishi Sharma).

He tweeted: "Break a Leg xx (sic)"

Gemma's casting comes just months after she launched her own theatre company, Amigo Productions, with businessman Richard Lamberth.

The pair have teamed up with eating disorder charity SEED - which was co-founded by the 'Holby City' star's parents Marg and Dennis Oaten - to raise money via shows and workshops for those who have struggled with such issues.

Gemma said: "I suffered with anorexia for many years.

"The performing arts were vital in helping me survive the worst struggles with eating disorders so I know first-hand how transforming an opportunity it can be to get to do something you love.

"Now feels like the right time to help other young people, from all walks of life, flourish and follow their dreams, just as I have."