Freddie Lees (1934-2015)

 

It is with great sadness that we learned today at its-behind-you that Freddie Lees has passed away. Freddie was the finest pantomime dame of his time, and for me, the finest of all time.  He began his pantomime career in 1956 and appeared in over forty five pantos, playing the Dame in twenty five of them. I was lucky to see quite a few of them.

Freddie was the star Dame in the pantomimes at my local Theatre, Swansea Grand, directed and produced by his life partner John Chilvers. I grew up watching Freddie make guest appearances in the weekly and then fortnightly rep seasons, and looked forward to the times he would return to play Dame at “The Grand”.

Freddie is the greatest influence in my choice of career, and he and John Chilvers fostered the love of Pantomime that will remain with me always. “I am a panto Dame because of Freddie. I watched him from the stalls so often as a young man, and I have known him almost all my life. To watch his style which appeared effortless, and to see him stand stock still and deliver a punch line with a knowing twinkle- Freddie had the ability to draw the audience in, make them part of the joke and they knew that he was enjoying every minute of it. In short, a masterclass in the art of pantomime from a true professional.

Freddie was my friend, and he had a huge network of friends who will be at this moment missing him and more importantly remembering the laughs and the joy. Friends not only in pantomime, but in plays, West End musicals and  television. In his last weeks he still retained that humour. He told me how with his eyesight failing he missed reading the blogs on here and commenting on the articles. When I last saw him along with my Brother Vivyan we talked about things Panto, and a wonderful holiday in Llandudno back in the mid seventies, we talked until he suddenly said “right- I know you well enough. I’m tired, so bugger off!”

I would be so grateful if Freddie’s mates would send a few words and a few memories to share here via the IBY email.

A few years ago I created “A Spotlight On Freddie Lees”. Simon and I would like to repeat it here. After he read it Freddie said I should use it for his obituary. I will most certainly do that. It was the most amazing career, and his influence will continue in Pantoland . Thanks Freddie for everything.

Nigel

WORDS AND MEMORIES

From Susie McKenna

I first saw the magic of Freddie Lees at Swansea Grand theatre playing Norman in the Dresser

I was 18 and was rehearsing for the next show . I should have ben learning my lines but he was mesmerising . So still , so funny , so heartbreaking , I just had to keep seeing the show .

And then he came to see a run of our show and spoke to me with such kindness and encouragement . Everyone in this business needs someone as Good as Freddie supporting you

The fact that I got to work with him many times a few years later at Nottingham Playhouse gave  me the best of professional experiences and I am forever thankful  for all the laughs we had. .

I Have always cared so much about what Freddie thought  and I will miss his guidance . He was such a great friend , mentor and guide . I will miss him terribly and the world has lost a true gentleman and comic genius .

Sleep well you wonderful old Ginger

All my love

Susie x

From Richard Burke

I am very saddened to hear of Freddie's death.

Freddie and I first worked together as actors in a season at the Theatre Royal, Bath in 1969 in the days when the theatre was run by Frank Maddox.  We churned out plays like Semi-Detached and White Sheep of the Family.  Soon after, we went on a long Charles Vance tour of Salad Days in which Freddie played Troppo.  I was cast as Nigel, the supporting male lead who doesn't find it easy to sing (spot-on casting for me!).  We were surrounded by rep names of that era such as Sylvia Carson, Jennifer Oscard, Maggie Lawley and John Atterbury.  It was directed by Richard Fraser, and the MD was dear old Alan Leigh.  I note from the programme that the pianist was a Timothy Rice, though I doubt it was the chap we all now know of. 

When Freddie needed to leave the cast of the 1975 tour of Murder at the Vicarage to do something more attractive (as he put it), he very kindly suggested me to take over his role as a nervous young vicar -  he gave me lots of helpful preparatory notes and warned me that Barbara Mullen, who both directed and starred in it, was not an easy person to work with in either capacity, and was I sure I wanted to take it on?   It was work, so I decided to go ahead and, after a few days of what you could loosely call rehearsal, rang Freddie to thank him for both the job and the warning which had certainly helped me to deal with Barbara's whimsical demands.  I must say I was pleased when something better turned up and, like Freddie, I could escape - even though the production ended up at the Savoy with an old friend of both Freddie and me, Avril Angers, in the lead.

My partner of 46 years, Adrian Rondeau, also worked with Freddie in Bath back in '69, and we kept in touch with him through what we call the Fergie years (when Jean Fergusson and many other actors lived in our Crouch End house). We moved out to Essex in the early 80s to build up Adrian's business, and some years ago made our home in Norfolk where we now are.

Adrian and I are both saddened by Freddie's death. I am sorry that we shan't be able to go to his funeral on Tuesday, and we send our condolences to you and your brother as close friends of the dear man.

With kind regards

Richard Burke

From Peter Lees

I was proud to have Freddie as a branch on my family tree.

I only discovered him a few years back and traded photos and such. Freddie knew my Grandfather – something I never did. Although I never met him, he was the closest UK family member – with a memory I had been in contact with.

Sad day for me to find out he has gone.

Peter Lees.

Australia

From Roy Barraclough

Freddie was a wonderful man, actor and dame. We worked together many times at Oldham - and kept in touch all those years on. A great loss.

From Richard Frost

I met Freddie at Oldham Rep in 1968 and we worked together many times in the following forty seven years. We remained great friends until his passing. My partner Graham Richards and I saw him play Dame brilliantly all over the country and he taught us both so much about the theatre and pantomime in particular. As a young actor Graham played with Freddie in 'The Sleeping Beauty' at The KMT Ilford and still quotes all the tips and advice Freddie gave him so generously at that time. He was a wonderful and tremendously versatile actor. We will never forget his humour, kindness, generosity and love of life, and we will miss him more than words can say.

From Kim Grant

Freddie and I first met in 1974 when he played the lead in a production I did of ONE FOR THE POT. He knew far more than I did about FARCE and I learned a lot from him. He played four different brothers, and so brilliant was he, that until the curtain call, members of the audience told us they thought they had been watching four different actors!....his comedy timing was superb. We worked together many times, and he became a wonderful friend to me for over forty years.

He was incredibly talented, intelligent, witty...with a truly wicked sense of humour....I shall miss him so much.....life will not be the same without him

From David Henry and Derek Griffiths

Dear Toymaker,
What a wonderful time we had together in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Palladium.
with great love and affection

Freddie Lees

 Veteran of over thirty seven pantomimes, seven West End productions and countless repertory and television productions, Freddie Lees was one of this country’s leading Pantomime Dames.

Freddie made five pantomime appearances at the Grand Swansea, where he also guest-starred in many rep seasons . Freddie Lees is the Dame who most influenced me, and set the standard for what truly makes a Dame.  Freddie’s performances  in the Swansea rep and panto seasons, and the guidance of Swansea’s  John Chilvers gave me the love of pantomime I have today.  His comedy timing is a joy to behold, and his ability to stand stock still, command the stage and deliver a laugh line with a knowing twinkle is a masterclass in Dame-dom!

Freddie’s career has seen him switch roles from Twankey to Brecht, and Dame Trott to Ibsen - he has appeared in Shakespeare’s “Tempest” in one season and the saucy “Pajama Tops ”in another;  rep seasons include Bristol Old Vic, Leatherhead, Swansea, York, Harrogate, Salisbury, Windsor, Oldham, Nottingham Playhouse and two years with the National Theatre of Australia.

He appeared as two characters in “Coronation Street”:  as Norman Leach and as Dave Fisher, and in his time has blackmailed Alf Roberts and mugged Bet Lynch!   The West End has seen him appear at The Princes Theatre (now The Shaftesbury) The St. Martin’s, The Phoenix, The Dominion, in” Oliver” at the Palladium,” Billy” at Drury Lane and more recently returning to the London Palladium in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

Born in Oldham, Lancashire, Freddie Lees spent three years in the RAF before joining a touring company. He made his debut at the Aston Hippodrome in 1955 in the risqué play “Call Girl”. In an era of plays with titles like “Call of the Flesh”, this production toured for twelve months. Freddie began as ASM/Understudy to John Chilvers who was Company Manager, and had five lines in the piece. A year on he was promoted to Stage Director, and, went into his first pantomime for the same management. That panto was the 1956 “Mother Goose” with two Coronation Street connections!

1956 - 57  Mother Goose (Touring Pantomime)

Freddie Lees played the Broker’s Man in a touring Pantomime that played Blackpool, Halifax, Hyde, Bolton and Liverpool.  The star of the show was Bill WaddingtonRadio’s Witty Willie” later to achieve television fame as Percy Sugden in “Coronation Street”.

Presented by Jack Gillan, the production included Renee DymottThe Unusual Girl”, The Arial Kenways, a trapeze act, and the “Zio Angels” a speciality act where the girls appeared as a fan fountain of ostrich feathers and also appeared as the Phantom Guard. Mother Goose was played by Billy Eaves- “The Scream Of Dames!”

Freddie recalls that Elaine Smith (no relation to Scotland’s Elaine C Smith obviously!) was billed in this pantomime as Principal Boy, and had won “Miss Blackpool” in a beauty contest. Sometime after this panto she married Jess Yates, who became TV’s Stars On Sunday” presenter and organist, and they had a daughter- Paula Yates. It was only in recent times that it was revealed that rival television  “Opportunity Knocks” presenter Hughie Green  was in fact Paula’s real father.

The Second “Corrie” connection was that Freddie’s landlady in his Blackpool digs was the actress Lyn Carol, who was to go on to play Martha Longhurst in “Coronation Street”. Her death in The Rovers Return,  witnessed by Ena Sharples and Minnie Caldwell made Soap history!

That year Freddie appeared at Crewe Rep. The play was “Cosh Boy”, and when the leading man broke his leg in rehearsal, he stepped into the role. He also made the first of his guest appearances in rep at the Swansea Grand. (He would make appearances for the next six successive years with the Swansea rep company.)

I asked Freddie about the first Panto that he remembered seeing:

 I think it must have been “Babes In The Wood” at the Oldham Theatre Royal, from the Gallery- all I could remember was the Demon in those days was dressed up like Satan, all in red, and I can remember Satan coming in through a window and putting poison or something into a drink- that’s all I can remember!”

 

 

1957-58  Mother Goose  (Connaught Theatre Worthing)

Freddie was Stage Manager and appeared in the chorus in this pantomime. The star was Douglas Byng as Mother Goose, with the popular Hedley Ward Trio.

Douglas Byng (1893-1987) was the grand dame of pantomime. Like George Lacy he specialised in very aristocratic characters, and appeared in revue and cabaret singing his witty ditties like “Mexican Minnie”, and “Doris, the Goddess of Wind!”.

The Hedley Ward Trio comprised of Derek Franklin, George Taylor and Jack McKechnie. Founded by the band leader Hedley Ward in 1948 they appeared regularly on radio’s “Educating Archie” and became extremely popular. Derek Franklin married another popular Radio Star of “Educating Archie”- the actress Beryl Reid.

This repertory panto also starred Eve Lister  -  she had been starring in “The King & I” at Drury Lane, having taken over from Valerie Hobson – and Roseley Ashley,  who was married to celebrity hairdresser, Raymond “Teasy Weasey!” Also appearing was John Standing, later to become 4th Baronet in 1964  after the death of his father  (He doesn’t use the title)  in his second year in the theatre. Now a film star, (The Eagle Has Landed, V for Vendetta) he recently starred in HBO’s series “A Game Of Thrones”.

Later in 1958 Freddie returned for a rep season at Swansea, once more in “Cosh Boy” – this time opposite Tom Bell – and in plays like “Sailor Beware” and “A Hatful of Rain”.

In 1959 Freddie joined the Butlin’s rep season at Pwllheli for Michael McDona productions. The plays included “Cosh Boy”, “Sailor Beware”, “This Happy Home” and “Fresh Fields”. Audrey Leybourne appeared with Freddie in this season.

In March 1960 Freddie made his West End debut at the Prince’s Theatre, now The Shaftesbury in “Johnny The Priest”, a musical adaptation of R.C Sherriff’s play. After a brief tour it opened with Hope Jackman, Stephanie Voss, Jeremy Brett and Tony Holland.

Tony Holland was later to leave acting and take up script writing, creating (along with Julia Smith) “Angels”, “Eastenders” and the ill fated “Eldorado” for the BBC.  The West End did not take to “Johnny” and the show closed after a ten day run!

Freddie’s guest appearances with Swansea Rep Co in the 1960 season included “Rookery Nook”, “A Taste of Honey”, and his first appearance as Lord Fancourt-Babberley in the classic “Charley’s Aunt”. (The photograph below shows the cast and director: Peter Boyce, David Beale, John Chilvers – director – Howell Edwards, Bryan Ramsay, Patricia Hockridge, Freddie Lees, Branwen Iorwerth and Pamela Galley)

Freddie’s 1961 and 1962 seasons at Swansea Grand included repertory productions of  “Watch it, Sailor”, “Peg O’ My Heart” and “The Doctor and the Devils”.

One of the questions I asked Freddie was if he could pinpoint the pantomime where he sat in the audience and thought “I’d like to do that”, he said:

I think it was “Old King Cole” - either “Old King Cole” with Henry Kendall and Vic Oliver, or “Humpty Dumpty” with Norman Evans and Betty Jumell  - at  the Manchester Palace.

1962 - 63 Aladdin (Opera House Harrogate)

In 1962  Norman Evans was booked to “guest Star” in the Opera House pantomime, but sadly died in the November.   I asked Freddie who had influenced him most as Dame:

Norman Evans. I know everybody says that. . . but Norman Evans. There were different kinds of dames then, there was the sort of washer-woman, and then there were the kind of grander ones like Dougie Byng who was terribly aristocratic, and Clarkson Rose and people like that.   I saw Henry Kendall play dame at Manchester Palace in “Old King Cole” and he was like that -  he dressed like Queen Mary in fact!”

Norman Evans was replaced by Tony Heaton “A Host In Himself!” in this repertory pantomime. Previously Heaton had appeared with Ken Dodd in panto at Bradford.  Freddie played Wishee Washee to Tony Heaton’s Widow Twankey.

In 1963 Freddie Joined Geoffrey Brightman in Salford Victoria Theatre in “Fun and Games” before joining Harrogate Rep.  This was the first time for six years he was unable to perform at Swansea, where he had become a great favourite with the local audiences.  He would not be able to fit in a return to Swansea until 1968!

 “A Ten Pound Pom!”- Australia.

In 1964 Freddie took up the Government’s offer at that time to travel to Australia for just ten pounds, and become a Ten Pound Pom! The agreement was that you had to stay for two years, and Freddie joined the National Theatre of Western Australia at the Playhouse, Perth.

Freddie had previously worked at Harrogate  with Edgar Metcalf, and when Metcalf emigrated to become Director for Robert Helpman and Norman Marshall, Freddie took on the role of training stage management, and appearing in the pantomimes.

1964-65   Aladdin (Playhouse, Perth ,Western Australia)

Freddie played Wishee Washee in this production.

1965-66   Cinderella (Playhouse Perth.)

Freddie played Buttons.

1966-67   Dick Whittington (Playhouse Perth)

Freddie co-directed this pantomime, but did not appear in the show.  He returned to the UK, booked to perform in a British Howard & Wyndham pantomime. But the booking fell through.  (The legendary producers began selling off their theatres during the mid ‘60’s and ceased trading in 1977) He took up an offer to appear in a rep panto for Charles Vance. 

Back In Blighty!

1967/68   Aladdin  (Civic Theatre, Chelmsford)

Freddie played Wishee Washee in this pantomime. The cast included Imogen Moynihan (Mrs Charles Vance), Richard Fraser as Twankey and Angela Eaton as Aladdin.  “The Stage”  newspaper described Freddie Lees as having

  “A funny facial expression and patter- and has a delightful way with the tinies” 

September 1968 saw Freddie Lees at Leatherhead Rep in Goldini’s “The Fan” and in  November a tour of “Relatively Speaking” before returning to his home town and Oldham Rep at The Coliseum Theatre. He appeared in two pantomimes at Oldham.

1968/69  Mother Goose (Coliseum Oldham)

Freddie Lees appeared as Silly Billy opposite Carl Paulsen, who ran the company and played Dame. Kenneth Alan Taylor wrote this panto, but did not appear that year.

The “Corrie” Connection comes to the fore as Colin was played by Barbara Mullaney (later Barbara Knox) who was to play Rita in Coronation Street  in 1972. Her character had already appeared briefly in 1964.

Also in this pantomime was Jean Fergusson. Jean did many rep seasons with Freddie, including Swansea, before she joined the “Last of the Summer Wine” team as Marina, a role she played from 1985 to 2010.

The cast at Oldham included Richard Frost, now a pantomime director, as the Wicked Witch, John Jardine and Malcolm Patton as Baron Bonkers and Evil Eric, and was directed by Carl Paulsen.

In 1968 Freddie was able to return to Swansea Rep for a much anticipated guest appearance in “The Amorous Prawn”

1969/70   Aladdin (Coliseum Oldham)

Freddie Lees once more played Wishee Washee, opposite Kenneth Alan Taylor as Twankey and Barbara Mullaney  - played Aladdin.

Making an instant hit in the show was Freddie Lees as Wishee Washee. His aimiable manner and natural charm make him probably THE star of a great show!” The (Stage)

Having played comic in six pantomimes to date, he joined the Theatre Royal in York to appear as Ugly Sister. During this time Freddie was with the York Repertory Company, along with Geoffrey Brightman and Malcolm Ingram. Roles included Quince in “Midsummer Night’s Dream”, with Kathleen Byron and Old Time Music Hall with Patricia Kilgarriff, singing “I’m shy Mary-Ellen, I’m Shy!”

1970/71  Cinderella (Opera House York)

The cast included Freddie as Ugly Sister with Joe Cook. Buttons was played by Frankie Desmond. Frankie had been the star of “Dazzle” in Scarborough Summer Season for four years.

The Sisters “pile extravaganza on top of fantasy in the way of costume, but with taste too. York audiences can rarely have been so astounded, in series and with knobs on!” (The Stage)

During 1971 Freddie’s Rep Season included “Hadrian The Seventh”, with Jonty Miller,  and  Grup” with Barbara Mullaney and Philip Lowrie  ( Forty-one years Barbara and Philip  have just married in “Coronation Street” as Mr and Mrs Dennis Tanner.) Also working alongside Freddie that year in the pre-panto season was Gay Soper.

1971/72  Babes in the Wood  (Opera House York)

Frankie Desmond played Nurse Trott with Freddie Lees  as Simple Simon in this Donald Bodley Pantomime that also featured Olivia Breeze as Maid Marion, as well as Max Harvey, Geoffrey Brightman and John Rudling. The Musical Director of the panto was Paul Laidlaw- now a leading pantomime Dame himself!

The Stage wrote “Mr Lees wins friends with his engagingly knowing air, and scores a hit with his tender little song “If I only Had A Puppy!”

In the autumn of 1972 he was able to return once more as a guest artist to Swansea Grand, where he re-created the role in “Charley’s Aunt” which he had so successfully performed twelve years earlier. 

This time he appeared alongside Vivienne Moore and Eleanor Thomas.

1972/73  Cinderella (Wyvern Theatre, Swindon)

Freddie played Buttons this time around, with husband and wife team Howell Evans and Patricia Kane as The Ugly Sisters, Hysteria & Hydrophobia. David Davenport played Baron and Linda Rusby played the title role.

In February 1973 Freddie appeared in  Coronation Street  as Norman Leach, demanding “compensation” for his mother whom he insisted was injured by Alf Roberts’ car. (Alf Roberts was played by Bryan Mosley) Although the mother was unharmed, the seedy Norman threatened to go to the newspapers unless Alf paid out £500.  

At the time, Alf was Mayor-elect of Weatherfield, and feared the publicity might affect his prospects.  When Bet Lynch heard of this, she confronted Leach and forced him to return the cheque. Bet had correctly assumed that Leach would have a criminal record and would suffer more from the police being involved than Alf.

Following “Coronation Street” and the Swindon panto, Freddie appeared in Cheltenham Rep as Argan in “Le Malade Imaginaire” with Granville Saxton and Malcolm Bullivant.

LIFE WITH THE LIONS!

1973/74   Robinson Crusoe (Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton)

Freddie Lees plays his First Dame-  Mrs Crusoe in Robinson Crusoe, with Bobby Bennett as Billy Crusoe,  The Rocking Berrys, and four live lions and a parrot.

Freddie recalls:

 “We had four live lions. Humphrey Stanley the manager swore us to secrecy because he said  ‘On the first night it’s going to be such a coup de theatre. . . .the audience are going to go wild!’.   My friend Richard Frost was in on the first night. I spoke to him afterwards. I asked if there had been a big reaction  from the audience.  ‘Well’  he said, ‘the woman in front of me turned to her friend and said “I thought there was a funny smell when we came in!”.

The smell was horrendous!  And by the end of ten weeks, of course it was even worse. The lions were actually kept in the wings, on the side of the stage in cages.  I used to get the biggest laugh by coming on immediately after with an enormous air freshener! Invariably women would say “Oh,  down here please! “

We had trouble with the lions.  There were three lionesses and one lion, and of course the only time the lion could get at the lionesses was when they were on stage, because when they were in the cages  they were separated.  It’s not a pretty sight when a lion is on heat.  We had complaints from the Mothers, saying the children were asking what was going on with the lions. . . so they got rid of the male lion.

…They all had cosy names like Beryl and Ruby and Maud, and when they got rid of the lion they replaced him with a lioness called Phyllis, and  -  this is absolutely true- she turned out to be a lesbian! She wouldn’t let them alone either!

Now the parrot had to go after the first night. The principal girl sang “The world is a circle”, and as soon as she started on the song the parrot  said “*!#! off!” very loudly! Throughout the song.  So,  the parrot went.”

You know how it is playing Dame.  You can leave the theatre after the show and no one recognises you.   In Wolverhampton, leaving the stage door after the show we used to turn to each other and say “Oh, it was hot in that lion’s costume tonight” just to put a little bit of doubt in their minds! “

In 1974 Freddie appeared at Swansea Grand in “My Fat Friend”, which I saw as part of the Rep Season. That winter was spent back in Swindon.

1974-75   Aladdin  (Wyvern Theatre, Swindon)

Freddie reverted to playing Wishee Washee in this pantomime, the part of Twankey played by Frankie Murray, with Ann Hamilton as Principal Boy and Olivia Breeze as Princess Of China. Directed by Tony Clayton,  this Panto featured Cy Grant, the film actor and calypso singer,  as Emperor Of China.

Straight after this pantomime Freddie appeared at the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford, re-creating his role in “My Fat Friend” in a new production directed by my brother, Vivyan.

This was the first professional production to be performed at the brand-new East London theatre.  The cast included Eleanor Thomas, David Sulkin and Hamilton McLeod.  Unfortunately Eleanor was taken ill during rehearsals, and, at the very last moment, Olivia Breeze stepped in to take over – having just two weeks earlier been with Freddie in the Swindon panto.

And immediately following Ilford, in February 1975 Freddie began a tour of “Murder At The Vicarage” starring Barbara Mullen, Derek Bond with Caroline Moody, directed by Donald Bodley.

This was followed by the National Tour of the comedy “Norman, Is That You?” which went into London ,at the Phoenix Theatre on April 16th. The play starred popular comedian Harry Worth, and Avril Angers. Freddie  appeared as Terry Hobardt, with Lynda Bellingham in this brief five weeks run in the West End.

Touring continued with “Kennedy’s Children” (Which I saw at the Arts Theatre London) visiting the Edinburgh Lyceum, Oxford Playhouse, Warwick Arts Centre and in Amsterdam. Joining Freddie were Carole Cleveland, fresh from “Monty Python” and Robert Swales with Holly Wilson.

1975-76 Jack & The Beanstalk (Grand Theatre Swansea)

This pantomime, starring the top Welsh comedian, Ryan Davies, as Simple Simon,  featured Freddie as Dame Trott. Local pop singer Bryan Evans played Jack, with Kay Coleman as Princess, and the singing group “Golden Brandy” along with June & Paul Kidd (Mother and Son) as Daisy The Cow.

This was a pantomime of swift cast changes.  As the pantomime was about to open, Ryan fell ill and was taken to hospital suffering from bronchial asthma. An urgent phone call on Christmas Eve saw Gordon Peters rush down to Swansea to take over the opening-day matinee on Boxing Day. Gordon stayed with the show for two weeks, except he was unable to play the two performances on New Year’s Eve  - he was unable to get a release from a previously signed contract for that night. And so, Bill Kenwright (now a leading theatrical impresario) arrived at Swansea to play the role for two performances only! Ryan Davies returned to the pantomime a fortnight after opening.

1976 was to prove a busy year for Freddie:   

1976- “Billy” The Musical   (Theatre Royal,  Drury Lane)

“Billy” had opened two years previously with Michael Crawford in the Title role. In this cast change Freddie joined the company in May as Mr Shadrack.. Roy Castle played the lead role with George Sewell as Mr Fisher, Fanny Carby as Billy’s Mother and Betty Turner as Billy’s Gran. Tony Aitken played Stamp, and Eddie Molloy was Freddie’s partner in the undertakers, Mr Duxbury.

In November of that year- 1976 Freddie had opened in Cardiff at the New Theatre in Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys”, which I saw several times, as I was working for the New and Martin Williams who was then manager. The show featured Ryan Davies and Bill Owen as the sparring double act, with Freddie as the Nephew, and agent to Willie Clarke- played by Ryan Davies.

Des Barritt appeared in the comedy, along with Phil Reilly- they were both rehearsing with me daytimes, and joined by Rosemarie Macvie. This was an “In House” production, and I’m sure there would have been many more like it at the New Theatre but sadly Martin Williams died suddenly at a very early age, and the theatre once more became a touring house, with only a few in-house shows.

1976-77   Aladdin  (New Theatre, Oxford)

Freddie played Widow Twankey alongside Lulu as Aladdin with Freddie Garrity as Wishee Washee  and The Dreamers as Policemen. Also in the cast were Martin Dell as Abanazar,  Michelle Summers as Princess, Reginald Tsiboe as Genie, Rob Stuart as Emperor. It was directed for Howard & Wyndham by Malcolm Goddard.

“Freddie Lees as Widow Twankey has ensured that he will be in great demand as a “Dame”. His timing is just right and he gets every ounce out of the situation and dialogue” (The Stage Jan 1977).

This was the last Howard & Wyndham Pantomime.

In June 1977 returned as guest artist for another repertory season at the Grand Theatre Swansea, appearing as Norman in the trilogy- “The Norman Conquests” alongside Robert Blythe, Stephanie North, Menna Trussler (who was the ASM for this production) and Sonia Fox.   The season ran into the late autumn

1977-78 Sleeping Beauty  (Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford)

Freddie starred as Dame Trott in this pantomime. It featured Graham Richards as Silly Billy, Vivienne Moore as the Princess, Andrew Betts as Prince, Eleanor Thomas as Queen, Eric Leroy as King, Robert Quarry, and Peter Dayson playing several parts.

It also featured Paul Jaynes as Carabosse, Tracy Hart and Terence Suffolk. It was directed by Vivyan Ellacott, written by Vivyan and myself  (Nigel Ellacott) and costumed by myself, with costumes adapted from Betty Astelle’s and Cyril Fletcher’s set and costumes that the theatre had purchased.

1978-79   Aladdin  (Grand Theatre Swansea)

Freddie once again played Widow Twankey, this time  with Anne Aston, the “Golden Shot” girl,  as Aladdin and Wales’s own Ivor Emmanuel as Abanazar. The local comic Kenny Smiles played Wishee Washee, and Graham Cole, a familiar face through his many rep appearances here, and before “The Bill” played Emperor Of China. Steve Whatley later to front the QVC shopping channel played Genie and Vicky Kimber was Slave Of The Ring. The Pantomime was directed as usual by John Chilvers.

In this pantomime one of the dancing ensemble boys was twenty year old Chris Hamill- later to enter the world of pop music and change his name to Limahl, with his group Kajagoogoo. He talks about his days in panto, and life in “’I’m a Celebrity 2012”  in his website www.limahl.com

1979-80  Puss In Boots  (Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford)

A well-remembered pantomime for me, as it was the one time I got to work with Freddie in Pantomime!   This “Puss In Boots” was written and directed by Vivyan Ellacott. Freddie played Dame Trott, and I- Nigel Ellacott  played “Puss”.

The cast included Peter Dayson as Villain.  Peter went on to direct and play Dame around the UK. Jonathan Caplan and Robert Quarry  played the Miller’s Sons.

James Curran was King and Stephen Fletcher made his debut in theatre- later to achieve fame in Eurovision as “Bardo” with Sally Ann Triplett and a change of name to Stephen Fischer.

There was a scene where Freddie appeared on a mock-up horse, and I remember one of pantomime’s potentially worse puns- I had to ask “Is that a Palamino?” to which Freddie had to reply “Any Pal-a-mino is a Pal-o-your-no!”  So bad!

Some of the pictures below are from a set of proofs, which I have had in a drawer for a very long time. Apologies for the quality- in many cases it is the first time they have been seen!

During the summer season of 1980 Freddie appeared at Exeter in the Northcott Theatre in “Boeing Boeing”, and then rejoined Salisbury Playhouse to appear in “Ours” and their annual Old Time Music Hall show for the autumn before returning to Swansea Grand Theatre.

1980-81  Puss In Boots  (Grand Theatre, Swansea)

This pantomime starred the late Davy Jones of “Monkees” fame as Colin, with Freddie Lees as Dame Trott. Once again Graham Cole played King (extending his rep season at  the Grand) with local actress Menna Trussler as Witch. Diana Gibson played Princess Maria, with Peter Holbrook as The Cobbler. The part of “Puss” was played by Katrina Tanzer, with Jenny Alwen as Fairy.  The pantomime was directed by John Chilvers and ran until March 7th!

Freddie Lees as Dame Trott-  Outrageous costumes, with an unerring sense of timing”. (The Stage. Jan 1981).

During the year Freddie joined The Orange Tree, Richmond company, appearing in Brecht’s “Good Woman Of Setzuan” and the Feydeau farce “Fitting For Ladies”.

1981-82   Dick Whittington  (Theatre Royal, Newcastle)

This pantomime featured Ken Goodwin and Tracey Ulman. At twenty-one, Ullman was a few years away from the stardom that would follow. Two years later she would be offered her own BBC show, and would later leave for America where she became an EMMY Award winning comedy performer in “The Tracey Ullman Show” (1987) and film actress before becoming producer for HBO television. She still tops the ratings in the States today.

Freddie Lees played Sarah The Cook alongside John Clegg , The Great Soprendo, (Geoff Durham)- at that point married to Victoria Wood, and  Gareth Thomas, Linda Rusby and Terry Doogan, known as “the Best Cat in The Business”.

In September 1982 Freddie returned to the Thorndike Theatre Leatherhead to appear as Malvolio in “Twelfth Night” and in the Agatha Christie Thriller “Ten Little Indians”, playing Dr. Armstrong. It was directed by Ted Craig.

1982-83    Jack & The Beanstalk  (Grand Theatre Swansea)

This was Freddie Lees’s fourth Swansea appearance in pantomime. The show ran until February 26th.   During the previous year, due to failing health, John Chilvers MBE had retired as Theatre Administrator after 25 years.  However, the Council had asked him to return as guest director of this pantomime.

The panto starred Don Maclean and Freddie Lees as Dame Trott. Once again Graham Cole appeared as King, with Paul Keown as Principal Boy. Jackie Marks played Princess (she was later to appear in the original cast of “Les Miserables” in the West End) and James Marston played Giant. Daisy The Cow was Keefe and Annette and Wendy Weaver played Good Fairy. Steve Dewitt played villain.

Giant Blunderbore, played by James Marston must have felt jinxed during this season. During rehearsals he slipped and broke his wrist, but managed to carry on with suitable strapping. Shortly afterwards he was knocked unconscious by a descending backcloth, and spent Christmas in Swansea hospital! He still made it by the opening night on Boxing Day!

The Grand Theatre closed its doors after this pantomime season and underwent major renovation and re-building work.  Its next show was the following year’s pantomime.

During 1983 Freddie toured with “Habeas Corpus” from Eastbourne, with Jack Douglas, Patsy Rowlands and Jacqueline Clarke. In the autumn he rejoined Leatherhead rep appearing in “When the Sun Shines”.

1983-84   Sinbad the Sailor  (Wimbledon Theatre)

This is, to date, the only “Sinbad” I have ever seen - it is a pantomime which is hardly ever performed. Produced by John Newman and Mark Furness it had a plot somewhere, but it really didn’t matter as the entire pantomime was in the hands of the Master of Mirth, Ken Dodd!

Ken Dodd starred in this pantomime that had pirates, acrobats, thieves (definitely not forty!)  Diddymen,  and had a book by Paul Elliott and Tudor Davies. I remember a dove act in the middle of it all- Paul Derek and his doves, and a giant bird- a “Roc” that flew in from the flies at one point. There was an on-board cooking scene with Doddy (as Sinbad) and Freddie Lees- Freddie playing Bertha Wazir, Jacqui Toye was a swashbuckling Ali Baba and Michael Robbins as a very wicked Sorcerer.  Syubbie Jones played Scheherezade. 

Phil Compton (now with the Birmingham Stage Company) played Captain to David Brody’s Mate, and Christopher Beck played most of the forty thieves! Gail Ivey was the Pirate’s Daughter and her father, the Pirate King, was Jonathan Linsley. The Acromaniacs were pirates and sailors and performed a speciality. The pantomime was directed by John H de Lannoy.

This might be the first review Freddie got for his Hollywood star profile!

 Bertha Wazir: “. . . on the make with a stunning outfit for every appearance, and joyously fleshed out by Freddie Lees of the Myrna Loy profile” (The Stage Jan 1984)

The following year this production transferred to Stockport, to the Davenport Theatre.

1984-85   Sinbad the Sailor  (Davenport Theatre, Stockport)

This season the director was Alan Curtis, who also appeared in the pantomime for Newpalm Productions.  Ken Dodd was again Sinbad with Jacqui Toye and Freddie Lees. The Dame had a slight change of name this time around- she was now Bertha Baba.   The Principal Girl was played this year by Catherine Francoise McCarney, with Sybil Jones as Scheherezade. Director and renowned Panto villain Alan Curtis played Yazid the Sorceror with Bryan Sullivan as Yusef and the Caliph. Jonathan Linsley again played Hassan. Bob Morse created the beautiful costumes for this production

During March of 1985 Freddie joined Harrogate Rep and appeared in the comedy “My Fat Friend”. In May of that year he joined the Nottingham Playhouse and appeared as Jim Bloggs in “Gentleman Jim”.

“Underneath The Arches” was the major musical at Nottingham Playhouse that year. Directed by Kenneth Alan Taylor and Andrew Hay it featured Richard Frost, Freddie Lees, Susie McKenna (now responsible for the artistic output and pantomimes at Hackney Empire) John Jardine, Robert Kingswell , Jayne Moore as well as Kenneth Alan Taylor himself. Carole Todd was the choreographer.

1985-86 Aladdin  (Grand Theatre Swansea)

Running until March 1st, “Aladdin” starred Bernie Clifton and Freddie Lees, alongside Ria Jones, a Swansea artiste who had been “Cinderella” with Peter Robbins and myself three years previously- her first panto.

Ria went on to appear in West End Musicals including Les Miserables, Chess, Nine, The Witches of Eastwick, High Society, Joseph and Cats. She has recently made concert appearances in The Far East and The Royal Albert Hall.  In Swansea, Ria appeared as  Princess Sugar to Bernie’s Wishee Washee and Freddie’s Widow Twankey-Jones!

Also appearing were Simon Oates as Abanazar, Mark White in the title role and Simon Wallis and Peter Dayson as Chinese Policemen. Judith Hibbert played Genie with Stephen Robinson Stafford, Tim Ward, Christopher Wilcox, Neil Owens, Michael Mullen and Christopher Jenkins. It was directed by Dudley Stevens.

During the Summer Season of 1986 Freddie appeared in the saucy farce, “Pajama Tops” with John Inman at Jersey for Dick Ray, and at Eastbourne at the Devonshire Park Theatre.

The cast included Maurice Thorogood, Fay Hillier, Alan Christian, Louise Burton and Suzie Jerome.

1986-87  Cinderella  (Bristol Hippodrome)

This Triumph Pantomime starred Jim Davidson as Buttons, with Freddie Lees and Roger Kitter as The Ugly Sisters, alongside Allan Stewart as Prince, Derek Waring as Baron Hardup, Dianne Lee as Cinderella, Mia Carla as Fairy Godmother and Jon Jon Keefe as Dandini.

Directed by Alan Blackburn the Sisters were called “Krystle and Alexis” in homage to “Dynasty”.

The Stage Newspaper reported “Freddie Lees looks decidedly closer to a certain Coronation Street Pub Landlady than a Dallas Dolly”

1987 saw Freddie returning to Nottingham Playhouse to appear with Richard Frost and Paul Bradley in “Pravda” before heading for Norwich Panto.

1987-88  Aladdin (Theatre Royal Norwich)

Produced by Dick Condon and directed by the late Robert Marlowe, this pantomime starred Bradley Walsh as Wishee Washee and Wayne Sleep as Genie Of The Lamp  with Dilys Watling in the title role, and Freddie Lees as Widow Twankey alongside Rusty Goffe as Slave Of The Lamp.

Charles West played Abanazar, Wei Wei Wong , Palladium Principal Girl was Princess with George Reibbit, Peter Whitbread, Walker & Cadman and the Flying Carpet speciality of Emerson & Jayne.

In 1988 Freddie was back at the Thorndike Theatre in Leatherhead appearing in Joe Orton’s “Loot”.

1988-89  Cinderella  (Dominion Theatre, London)

Directed by Jim Davidson, this pantomime was similar to the Bristol Hippodrome one of 1986. It again starred Jim Davidson as Buttons with Freddie Lees and Roger Kitter as The Ugly Sisters. Diane Lee again appeared as Cinderella. This West End production added George Sewell as Baron and Sherrie Hewson as a scatty Fairy Godmother. (Sherrie had played one of the Step-Sisters in the star-studded film “The Slipper and the Rose”.) The Sisters’ costumes were from the Nottingham Playhouse Wardrobe. During the run, the theatre played host to a Royal visit from Princess Michael of Kent and her children.

That year, 1989, Freddie returned to the Leatherhead Thorndike theatre to play Dr.Rank in “A Dolls House” with Rosalind Ayres, Josie Kidd, and Keith Drinkel. He went on to Nottingham Playhouse to appear in “Spider’s Web” with Susie McKenna, Michael Remick, Paul Gabriel and Michael Kirk, directed by Kenneth Alan Taylor.

This was followed at the Playhouse with “Stepping Out” joined by Josephine Blake and Josie Kidd, directed by Kim Grant, and by Ibsen’s “Enemy Of The People” .

1989-90  Cinderella (Alhambra Theatre, Bradford)

The previous year’s Jim Davidson production transferred to Bradford with Jim Davidson as Buttons, and a change of “Sister” for Freddie Lees. He was partnered with Paul Toothill.

Charlie Drake played Baron with Jess Conrad as Prince Charming. David Christian played Dandini with Mia Carla as Fairy Godmother  and  Hilary O’Neil as Cinderella.

Jim and Charlie Drake created chaos with a lively baking scene, similar in style to the one he performed at the Palladium with Molly Sugden. The pantomime at the Alhambra ran until February 11th!

During the run there was a Charity Gala. Freddie and Paul Toothill are seen here with Danny La Rue who appeared as a Guest Star.

In the April of 1990 Freddie appeared in the comedy “Last Tango in Whitby” by Mike Harding. The production began at the Nottingham Playhouse and was directed by Kenneth Alan Taylor. Judith Barker appeared with Freddie, Susie McKenna, Paula Tilbrook, Jeffrey Longmore and Cliff Howells.   It was later to embark on a UK tour.

In June the Playhouse presented Ken Hill’s “The Curse of the Werewolf”, with Freddie Lees playing Dr Hugo Bancroft, and his assistant, Ingerberg,  played by Susie McKenna. It also featured Paul Gabriel and Alan Moore and was directed by Kenneth Alan Taylor.

1990-1991 Cinderella  (Wimbledon Theatre)

Presented by Paul Elliott, this pantomime starred Brian Conley as Buttons. Bonnie Langford played Cinderella and Barbara Windsor was Fairy Godmother. The Baron was played by Gyles Brandreth, with Jan Hunt as Prince Charming and Amanda Bairstow as Dandini. Freddie Lees played Ugly Sister opposite Michael Sharvell-Martin with Ray Alan and Lord Charles and Ed “Stewpot” Stewart.

On a personal note, this is the sort of bill that we can only dream of seeing today-  a “dream-team” of Pantomime pro’s, all under one roof!

In the February of 1991 Freddie Lees appeared in “Stepping Out” at Leatherhead Thorndike Theatre with Jennie Logan, Josie Kidd and Nancy Nevinson. He played Geoffrey.

As soon as that run ended a month later,  Freddie went to the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch. Mike Harding’s “The Last Tango in Whitby” production (premiered at Nottingham) went on a UK tour. I was fortunate enough to see it when I was on tour, and enjoyed it very much.

Freddie played opposite Judith Barker as Pat again, joined by Lesley Randall as Henry, Judy Wilson, Paul Gabriel, Janet Whiteside and Jean Challis. It was directed, as before by Kenneth Alan Taylor.

1991-92  Dick Whittington (New Theatre, Hull)

This Paul Elliott E&B/Triumph production had Cannon & Ball as Captain and Mate, with Bernadette Nolan as Alice.   Freddie Lees once more appeared Sarah the Cook with David Ian playing Dick Whittington.  (David is now a leading impresario- with several West End productions to his credit, including the current hit, “The Body-guard”, a co-production with Michael Harrison.)

James Horne, a veteran Dame himself, played Sultan Of Morocco, and Sean Canning played King Rat.  The Production was directed by Peter Purves and ran until February 2nd.

In 1992 Freddie returned to the Swansea Grand Theatre repertory season to appear in “Educating Rita” playing opposite Swansea Actress (and later starring in “Gavin & Stacey” on television) Melanie Walters. The play was directed by Menna Trussler.

In the Autumn Freddie joined the Bristol Old Vic Company to play Trinculo in “The Tempest”.

1992-3      Babes In The Wood  (Civic Theatre Darlington)

 

Presented by Nick Thomas and Jon Conway, this pantomime again had Cannon & Ball as Good & Bad Robbers, with Lesley Ash as Maid Marion. Robin Hood was played by Jonathan Kiley, who is now an executive producer for Qdos Pantomimes.

The part of Friar Tuck was played by Ian Sandy who sadly died this Christmas season (2012) and who for many years was company manager at The Hippodrome Theatre Pantomimes.

Freddie played Dame- Nurse to the “Babes”. The Sheriff was played by Sean Canning, with Bradley King as Alan-A- Dale, Jacqueline Boanson, and Joanne Hegarty as Fairy. It was directed by Peter Purves.

The Stage newspaper described Freddie Lees as…

“A great Dame… his singing of Verdi’s “La Donna e Mobile”, not to the usual words of course, was quite an opening..!”

April 1993 saw Freddie in “My Cousin Rachel” at the Redgrave Theatre, Farnham, followed by a return to the Bristol Old Vic to play Feste in “Twelfth Night”

1993-94   Aladdin  (Playhouse Nottingham)

Freddie Lees as Emperor Of China playing opposite Robert Kingswell as Emperor. Kenneth Alan Taylor played Twankey and directed, with Sally Ann Mathews as Aladdin, Paul Gabriel as Abanazar, Michael Remick as Wishee Washee and Jo-Anne Knowles (later to star in “Mile High” and television dramas) as both So-Shi and the Slave of The Ring. Mark Stratton played the Genie and the Chief of Police.

1994 was Kenneth Alan Taylor’s touring production of “Fur Coat And No Knickers!” which featured Freddie Lees, Paul Shane (of “Hi Di Hi” fame), Judith Barker , Leslie Randall and Mark Greenhalgh. Freddie played the Grandfather in this comedy which, again, I was lucky to see during its tour of the UK.  I first saw it at the Coliseum in Oldham.

1994-95  Aladdin  (Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon)

This pantomime marked Freddie’s 37th panto, and his 22nd as Dame. Widow Twankey is his particular favourite role and he holds this season as one of the happiest. Directed by Jonathan Kiley it starred Chris Ellison as Abanazar,  Dave Benson Phillips as Wishee Washee, John Virgo, the snooker champion, as Chinese Policeman, Andrea Boardman as Genie Of The Lamp, with Wayne Morris as Aladdin and Ronnie Scott Dodd as Vizier and Mark Turnbull as Emperor.

When I asked Freddie to name the pantomime that most stays in his memory, either having seen or been a part of, he replied:

The one that I’ve seen,  I think, would have to be Humpty Dumpty, the Norman Evans one.  And  one of the happiest ones to be in  was Croydon for Paul Elliott, an “Aladdin” with Chris Ellison and Dave Benson Phillips as Wishee Washee and John Virgo…”

On a personal note, I know that Freddie is still hoping that somewhere there might have been an archive video recording that might still exist, and if so, he would love to view it!

1995-96   Babes In The Wood  (Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield)

This London Palladium production for E&B Productions had Brian Glover in the role of Sheriff of Nottingham, and Freddie Lees as Nurse.

Sophie Louise Dann played Maid Marion to Hilary O’Neil’s Robin Hood.

Gary Lovini, the violinist played the musical Merry Man, Alan-a-Dale, and as a nod to popular television characters at the time Falcon of “The Gladiators” played Fairy and Mr Blobby played himself!

1996    In May of this year Freddie took over the role of Mr Sowerberry, the undertaker, in “Oliver!” at The London Palladium. The production had originally opened in December, 1994.

Helen Cotterill played Mrs Sowerberry in this Sam Mendes production, as did Judith Paris.   During Freddie’s time with “Oliver” the roles of Fagin were played by Jim Dale, Barrie Humphries, Russ Abbott and Robert Lindsay. During the run the company included Sonia Swaby, Rosemary Ashe, Patsy Rowlands, James Villiers and Ruthie Henshall.  Paul Shane played Mr Bumble, as did Barry James and Bruce Montague and Stuart Sherwin  played Mr Brownlow. Also featured were Michael Morgan, Simon Hayden and, as one of the children, Rikki Stone.

In 1996 Rikki Stone  played an orphan child. In 2009, thirteen years later, Rikki played Muddles opposite Nigel Ellacott in Snow White at Ilford!

Freddie’s First child “Oliver” was Tom Fletcher- now the lead singer with McFly!

Freddie opened in “Oliver!” on June 3rd 1996 and continued in the role until the production ended in the February of 1998.

1999-2000  Dick Whittington (Derngate, Northampton)

This production again starred Jim Davidson as Dick Whittington, with Victor Spinetti as King Rat. John Virgo appeared as Captain, with John Lyons. Freddie Lees played Sarah the Cook with Louisa Landon as Alice Fitzwarren. Scott Harvey and David Kristian were in the company which was directed by Jim Davidson. The lighting design was by Nigel Catmur.

The late Victor Spinetti, favourite actor of The Beatles- he appeared in their films- also appeared in many pantomimes, and was known as a raconteur of all things theatrical. His one man show played to theatres throughout the UK. Freddie recalls being in his dressing room one day and mentioning to Victor how sad he was that he had never seen his One Man Show.

“Sit down, and I’ll do it for you” was the reply!

2000-2001  Dick Whittington  (Apollo Theatre Hammersmith)

This was Freddie’s last pantomime to date.   The production was staged in the 3,632- seater Apollo Theatre, Hammersmith, London. This vast auditorium wasn’t the best venue for pantomime, and certainly not an intimate one!

Directed and starring Jim Davidson the pantomime was the same as the previous year with Jim in the title role, Victor Spinetti as King Rat, Freddie Lees as Sarah the Cook, and John Virgo as “Captain Creep”. David Kristian reprised his role as Town Crier, and once again the lighting was by Nigel Catmur.

(Freddie and Victor were to be reunited at the London Palladium later in a long running musical centred around a famous automobile.)

FORTY FIVE YEARS IN PANTOMIME!

A Pantomime career that had begun in 1956 continued through into the next century. Freddie Lees appeared in pantomime for forty-five years, and played Dame for twenty five of them!  Freddie appeared at Swansea Grand in eleven different repertory seasons, and in five pantomimes:  1975, 1978, 1980, 1982 and 1985. He appeared in all the major theatres across the UK, again in repertory and pantomime.

While his panto appearances were on hold from 2001, Freddie’s stage and television appearances were still at full throttle - beginning with a return to the London Palladium in 2003.

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG!

2003  The London Palladium

In September of 2003 Freddie Lees joined the company of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” produced by Michael Rose. The musical had opened the previous year with Michael Ball and Emma Williams. The cast had included Paul O Grady, Anton Rogers, Nicola McAulliffe and Richard O’Brien.

Freddie joined in the re-cast of 2003 with Gary Wilmot as Caractacus Potts and Caroline Sheen in the role of Truly Scrumptious. The Baron Bombast was played by Victor Spinetti, with Sandra Dickinson as the Baroness. Wayne Sleep was the evil Childcatcher, with Freddie as the Toy maker. Russ Abbot played Grandpa.

“Chitty” ran until September 2005.  During this time Freddie remained with the show. The parts of Caracatus changed to Brian Conley, and then to Jason Donovan, with the roles of Childcatcher changing- Steven Gately and Alvin Stardust played the role, and Christopher Biggins played Baron with Louise Gold as Baroness. The company included Tony Adams and Lionel Blair.

Throughout this Spotlight on Freddie’s pantomimes, he appeared in a great many television productions. “Coronation Street” (twice); “Goose With Pepper” the TV Movie in 1975, “Hotel Babylon”, “The Bill”, “Tandoori Nights” in 1985, “ITV Playhouse “, appearing in “Office Gossip” “Little Britain” in 2005,  and recently Freddie appeared in “How Not To Live Your Life” in 2010 and “Come Fly With Me” in 2011.

For BBC Radio Freddie recorded “Deep Six” and “Call Me Madam” with Tyne Daly for Radio 4.  In 2011 Freddie appeared in the British Horror film, “Kill Keith”, alongside Keith Chegwin, Joe Pasquale and Tony Blackburn!

 

This page was last updated 9th June 2015

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