It was a stunning way to kick off this year's Cromer Pier Show - a taste of the exotic when most of us haven't been able to experience much of that.

The dancers and singers had donned dazzling outfits topped with feather headpieces for the 'Carnivale' number at the start of the show - belting out Shakira's hit Waka Waka, but substituting every mention of 'Africa' for 'Cromer Pier'.

The message was loud, clear and full of verve: We're here to entertain you.

After a couple of years of cancellations and uncertainty due to you-know-what, the latest incarnation of the world's only end-of-pier variety show is very much back with the volume turned up to 11.

The host is Ben Nickless, a Britain's Got Talent finalist. He's a natural entertainer, pulling laughs with everything from stand-up gags to his impressions of a damaged Elvis vinyl. But prop-jokes are Nickless' forte - his tiny Freddy Mercury and big Dolly Parton get-ups have to seen to be believed.

This year's lead singers are a couple of newcomers - Ferdinand De Leon - who came all the way from LA - and Holly-Jane Crowter.

A charismatic pair, they led the cast of dancers through tributes to James Bond, Oliver! and Run Boy Run, with slower performances of Lady Gaga's Shallow and It's All Coming Back To Me Now a fitting counterpoint.

Nadia Lumley also joins the cast as a specialty performer, showing off her amazing acrobatic skill with a stack of hula hoops, and later spinning herself around inside a cyr wheel, which if you don't know, is like one very large hula hoop.

The show will feature a new guest performer each week - kicking off the run was Steve Hewlett, who, with his crusty geriatric companion Arthur Lager, has to be one of the best-loved ventriloquists in the UK right now.

Audience participation was the key to his routines, and those in the front row were more than happy to banter and even get on stage to take part in the act.

The evening finished with something I'd never seen at the Cromer Pier Show before - a medley of patriotic song and dance a la the Proms, the audience waving Union flags that had been slung over our seats to create a stunning red, white and blue effect.

It was a fitting tribute in this Platinum Jubilee year, and a welcome reminder that the pier show - itself a great British tradition - is well and truly back.