14th February 2012

Dorothy Ward


Regular readers of IBY will have already read our articles on the great principal boy Dorothy Ward. We have been very grateful in the past to David Ward Hartshorne, one of Dorothy's relations, who has provided us with information and pictures from the family archive. He has now created a very beautiful site of photographs from his collection and this can be found at www.missdorothyward.co.uk - well worth a visit.


If you've not seen our articles on Dorothy Ward - then check them out:-

Dorothy Ward and Shaun Glenville - A Pantomime Partnership

Dorothy Ward - Behind the Scenes in a Pantomime


12th May 2011

Douglas Mounce - Twinkle Little Star

Harold Thropp is an old-school pantomime dame, who has slowly watched his career dwindle as the era of the grande dame has receded, and the cult of TV celebrity has risen. Now, in this dark comedy, he reflects on a life in the theatre, his prospects for the future in a world where his kind of entertainment no longer draws a crowd, and his tempestuous personal life: ĺYour father would be ashamedů if I knew who he wasĺ The role of Harold Thropp is played, with charm and waspish wit, by top pantomime dame Douglas Mounce (who has just appeared in Aladdin at the Blackpool Grand Theatre).

Twinkle Little Star is written by Philip Meeks and is coming to the Wimbledon Studio from the 24th-26th May 2011.

Please check the website for performance times and prices. Wimbledon Studio, 93 The Broadway, Wimbledon, London SW19 1QG

9th March 2011

Cash in the Attic - with Bobby Crush


On Friday 11th March 2011 the entertainer Bobby Crush will be appearing on Cash in the Celebrity Attic on BBC2 at 4.30pm. Among the items up for auction are two framed costume designs by our very own Nigel Ellacott for the Rocky Horror Show. Bobby's auction raises money for the EABF and Brinsworth House.

25th January 2010

A Must For All Friends of Dorothy!

A fantastic new exhibition has just opened at the Knowle Society Local History Centre in Solihull - an exhibition about a Knowle Landlords notorious daughter - Dorothy Ward! Dorothy, star of pantomime (as IBY readers will know!) and theatrical comedy was born in Birmingham and once lived in Knowle. Her father was landlord of 'The White Swan' public house in the late 1890s. Dorothy was purported to be "The Most Famous Principal Boy" ever. Perhaps not just famous but infamous might also be applied to Dorothy whose theatrical life had an element of notoriety about it.


Further details, including opening times and how to get there are to be found on www.knowlesociety.org.uk


More information about Dorothy can be found in our articles about her and Shaun Glenville. A Pantomime Partnership & Behind the Scenes.

5th October 2009

A London Palladium Tribute to


Sunday 11th October 2009 at 7pm



The London Palladium

A charity event in aid of Brinsworth House-

The Entertainment Artistes´┐Ż Benevolent Fund presents

A London Palladium Tribute to DANNY LA RUE

SUNDAY 11th OCTOBER 2009 at 7pm.


Among the Special guest stars appearing will be- Christopher Biggins, Ronnie Corbett, Jim Davidson, Anita Harris, Hilary O´┐ŻNeil, Rick Wakeman, Bradley Walsh and Barbara Windsor.

Tickets from ´┐Ż20 to ´┐Ż50

Box Office: 0844 412 4657

3rd September 2009

He's Behind You!

Rose Theatre 5th - 10th September 2009

The world famous Rose Theatre, Bankside in London (part of the Globe) and home to Marlowe and Shakespeare are producing a behind the scenes comedy play about the world of Panto, with real panto stars in some of the leads. We see all the antics of the tech crew, the stage school kids, ugly sisters, the castings, RADA trained soap stars and officious front of house ushers in this panto from hell, sorry that should be Hull!

Runs 5th to the 10th September with an original music score by Panto composer Tim Spencer.

Performances start at 7.30
Tickets ´┐Ż10.00 / ´┐Ż8.00 concessions
Box office: 020 7261 9565
Email: boxoffice@rosetheatre.org.uk



9th July 2009



Here at IBY we are sad to hear the news that Nita Howard, Dancer and Choreographer passed away on Tuesday 30th June.


Nita choreographed for stage, television, summer season and pantomimes, and as a dancer appeared in countless productions throughout the 1950´┐Żs and 1960´┐Żs. Our thoughts are with her husband Michael Malnick at this time.


The funeral will be held at Putney Vale Cemetery on Thursday July 16th at 11.15am. Full details via Kenyons, of Rochester Row, London SW1.



21st May 2009 UPDATED 3rd June 2009

The British Music Hall Society Exhibition: Extended until 5th June 2009

The BMHS is presenting a exhibition of programmes, posters, photographs, ephemera which would appeal to those interested in both Music Hall and Pantomime.

The Exhibition is at the SANDS FILM STUDIO in ROTHERHITHE, LONDON (Nearest tube is Bermondsey). 82 Saint Marychurch, Rotherhithe, London SE16 4HZ - South side Rotherhithe Tunnel nr. the Historic Mayflower Public House

Opening Hours: 11am-4.30pm Monday to Friday. There is also a caf´┐Ż there for refreshments.

The BMHS Website says:

Do remember, if this is the kind of exhibition you are interested in, don't say "I'll wait until they have another one, or next time" the time is now, this is not the kind of event that can be put on every two to four years, so make the effort and visit this exhibition, and let us know how we have done by completing the visitors' book and include your comments.

A questionnaire pad will be available with our stewards, please use this, if you are looking for a relative who may have been a performer in the "Good Old Days" write as much as you know, and Max, our historian will do his best to answer your questions by post. If you have any questions relating to the exhibits the stewards are unable to answer, use the pad and we will do our best from the wealth of knowledge the Society has to answer your questions.

Open Weekdays from 11 a.m. until last entry at 4-30p.m. CLOSED AT 5 o'clock.
For weekday visits by groups (approximately 20 per group) please telephone to
make visiting time arrangements, to prevent overcrowding.
Open Weekends for Private Groups Only strictly by telephone appointment
For all enquires to do with exhibition please contact telephone numbers
Peter White 020 8467 8303 or John Perry 020 8244 3229

The Exhibition Report by Nigel Ellacott

The exhibition occupies one area of the Sands Film Studios housed in a couple of 19th Century warehouses overlooking the Thames, and acts as film studio, recording studio and costume workshop for film and television. It also contains the Rotherhithe Picture Research Library.

Amongst the British Music Hall´┐Żs treasures are several costumes- Max Miller´┐Żs floral suit greets you as you enter, along with G.H. Elliott´┐Żs distinctive white suit, Vesta Tilley´┐Żs frock coat, Hetty King´┐Żs pinstripe suit and Bud Flangan´┐Żs iconic fur coat and Jockey costume from ´┐ŻThe Crazy Gang´┐Ż shows at the Victoria Palace.

Good to see a large picture of Jan Hunt beaming down on us as we looked at the many posters and hanging cards. There was an engraved tray presented to Marie Lloyd- a star so huge that the streets were closed for her funeral to allow 50,000 people to line the streets. A display for Harry Champion, and one for ´┐ŻThe Prime Minister Of Mirth´┐Ż, George Robey, including several of his hand crafted pantomime dame wigs on display, as well as letters and photo albums.

Little Tich´┐Żs boots, Florrie Forde´┐Żs stage jewellery  and GH Chergwin´┐Żs banjo from 1908 featured as displays, as well as photographs of most of the variety and Music Hall stars from Gracie Fields to Sandy ´┐ŻCan you hear me, Mother´┐Ż Powell, and the first president of the BMHS Don Ross with his wife Gertie Gitana. If you think you may not have heard of Gertie, just recall ´┐ŻThere´┐Żs an old mill by the stream, Nelly Dean´┐Ż, and you´┐Żve recalled one of her hit songs!

Interesting to see so many pantomime posters- bills from Bristol Hippodrome with Billy Dainty, Stan Stennett, Edmund Hockeridge and Wyn Calvin in ´┐ŻBabes In The Wood´┐Ż, next to ´┐ŻPuss In Boots´┐Ż at Hull New Theatre starring Donald Peers and Tommy Fields (´┐ŻGracie´┐Żs Little Brother´┐Ż) as Dame.

Barri Chatt and Terry Gardener are the Ugly Sisters at the Embassy Peterborough, while the Barbour Family are featured in Emile Littler´┐Żs ´┐ŻMother Goose´┐Ż, Empire Leeds with Roy Barbour and the Barbour Brothers appearing with Nat Mills.

John Inman and Barry Howard are on a bill, but not as Panto ´┐ŻSisters´┐Ż but in ´┐ŻSalad Days´┐Ż the musical, presented by Audrey Lupton & Arthur Lane. They appear alongside Jill Fletcher at Bristol Hippodrome.

´┐ŻGoldilocks´┐Ż presented by Duggie Chapman has Eli Woods, Jackie Pallo and Jack Storey billed, while The Empire Sheffield ´┐ŻBabes In The Wood´┐Ż has Roy Barbour again, alongside Billy Burden, Edna Savage and Lawri London.

A piece of Television nostalgia is Billy Dainty´┐Żs ´┐ŻCameraman´┐Ż brown coat with badges and appliqu´┐Żs from his appearances in ´┐ŻEmu Broadcasting Corporation´┐Ż ´┐Ż Rod Hull & Emu´┐Żs television show. Billy is also featured in the 1980 Bournemouth Pavilion Panto finale picture with Jack Douglas and Arthur English.

An interesting variety bill from the Palladium stars Eddie Fisher (Carrie´┐Żs Dad) as top of the bill with the young impressionist Peter Sellers appearing lower  down with his act ´┐ŻSpeaking For The Stars´┐Ż. Roy Rolland appears on a bill as ´┐ŻOld Mother Kelly´┐Ż- before he took over the Late Arthur Lucan´┐Żs title and role of ´┐ŻOld Mother Riley-just one of many fascinating bills in this compact exhibition.

1st April 2009

Panto in Venice

by Laurie Graham

Whatever they say about the influence of Commedia dell´┐ŻArte on Pantomime I can tell you that in 2002, when we staged our first panto in Venice, the Italians had never seen the like of it. The nuns of San Canossiano, where we took our first tentative panto steps, are still talking about Widow Twankey´┐Żs unusual baritone voice.

As readers of this website know, pantomime is addictive. You start off with a one hour show and costumes out of the rag bag. Next thing you know you have a two-performances-a-day habit and you´┐Żre sewing on sequins. The Pantalon Players now have to their credit three productions: Aladdin, Mother Goose and Dick Whittington.  And what began as an exclusively expatriate group has attracted a growing number of locals. In fact I´┐Żve just cast a Venetian as one of the Ugly Sisters for Cinderella for January 2010.

We´┐Żve also moved on from the days of performing in a convent. We now use the de-consecrated church of Santa Margherita, complete with frescoes and upholstered flip-up seats. There are no flies, traps or curtains, but what is panto if not a challenge? In a city where the price of everything brings a tear to the eye we can´┐Żt afford to rent rehearsal space and anyway, half the cast aren´┐Żt permanent residents here. Out of necessity we invented Panto Pronto. The cast get one script read-through in October then, in January, three days of intensive rehearsals followed by three days of performances. Fear concentrates the mind wonderfully.

Our pantomimes are performed as charity benefits but the venue regulations preclude the sale of tickets - kind of funny in a city where everything else is for sale -  so we just station the ugliest looking cast members at the exits and demand money with menaces. The venue stewards, who I suppose would prevent us from doing even that if we didn´┐Żt bribe them with gift-wrapped whisky, adore us. We are the highlight of their year. One January evening I slipped back to the venue early, to mix up a fresh batch of shaving foam pies. The auditorium was deserted, but up in the sound box Marilyn the Music was testing her tapes, and on stage, oblivious to the fact that he was being observed, Carlo the Caretaker performed the entire Mop Dance routine, step perfect.

As I remind my team every year before we begin, we bring pantomime to Venice for two reasons.

  1. It transforms people´┐Żs lives.
  2. We´┐Żre nuts.      


4th February 2009

Birmingham Hippodrome Panto Party

29th January 2009 - Robin Hood

Had a great time seeing ´┐ŻRobin Hood´┐Ż at the Hippodrome, Birmingham, and meeting up with some panto mates, like Ian Sandy who organised the Farewell Party. Ian is once again company manager for the panto which stars John Barrowman as the swashbuckling Robin Hood, Paul Zerdin and Sam as Will Scarlett, , Don Maclean as Friar Tuck with Helen Baker, Pete Gallagher, Malinda Parris and Natalia Pestova and Alexei Kislitsyn.

The Awards ceremony was the highlight of the night, with producer and director Paul Elliott winning the special category award- presented by myself, which was a bit of a shock as I knew nothing about presenting anything until I heard my named called out!

A great panto and a lovely party- thanks to Stuart Griffith for the use of the hall!

L to R - Ian Sandy, Amanda Millhouse, Robert Willis, Phil McCandlish, Paul Elliott



L to R - Ian Sandy with Natalia Pestova collecting her award


Ian Sandy with Paul Elliott receiving his award


Nigel, Toni & Don Maclean


Brick Lane Music Hall

31st January 2009 - Snow White and The Dwarf

Went to see Brick Lane Music Hall´┐Żs ´┐ŻAdult´┐Ż pantomime, ´┐ŻSnow White And The Dwarf´┐Ż- well, there is a credit crunch going on!- which runs until early March. Had a great time wining, dining and enjoying the show which features Chris Emmett as Nanny Fannakapan, Vincent Hayes as Jimmy The Jester, Rusty Goffe as ´┐ŻThe Dwarf´┐Ż, and Lowri Ann Richards as a wickedly evil Queen Anastasia. The Panto has a female Principal Boy played by Georgina Todd, with her sister Tiffany Todd in the title role. The Ensemble are John Dean, Louise Kimber, Tosh Wenogho and Jody Tostevin, with Laurence Payne Musical Director, and Bobby Cook on Percussion.

Brick Lane Music Hall is in Silvertown, near London´┐Żs City Airport, on the Docklands Light Railway.

4th February 2009

Kenneth More Theatre - Aladdin Party

The Kenneth More Theatre celebrated the end of this year´┐Żs ´┐ŻAladdin´┐Ż pantomime with their annual awards ceremony recently.

The pantomime is directed by Vivyan Ellacott, and written by  his brother, our very own, Nigel, who also designed the costumes.

This is the Kenneth More´┐Żs 34th panto- all them directed by Vivyan, and  played at the Ilford venue for a total of 51 performances.

Christopher Marlowe played Widow Twankey, with Isobel Hurll (Empress of China), Loraine Porter (The Slave Of The Ring), Robert Quarry (Inspector Lili Law) in his 34th pantomime at the venue, Hamilton Sargent ( Aladdin), Rikki Stone (Wishee Washee), Edward Thorpe (Abanazar), Hannah Chick (Princess Jasmine), Michael Skyers (Genie Of The Lamp) with Owen Smith, Tami Stone, Michelle Theunissen and Nathan Vaughan-Harris. The cast included children from the Palmerstone Stage School.

The production team includes Rob Mitchell-Gears, Dave Palmer, Pete Abery, Kate Smith, and Hayley Levinson. Ronnie Waller and Musical Director Stuart Rush.

L to R - Greg Bracken, Rob Mitchell-Gears, Ronnie Waller, Nigel Ellacott & Isobel Hurll

R to L - Sonja Lahiff, Councillor Joyce Ryan, Andrew Ryan, Rob Mitchell-Geares, Isobel Hurll

L to R - Michelle Theunissen, Pharic Scott and Nathan Vaughan-Harris

R to L - Owen Smith, Hannah Chick, Jason Kew, Tammi Stone

R to L - Christopher Marlowe, Rikki Stone, Edward Thorpe and Stuart Rush.

4th February 2009

Newcastle Pantomime Party

In December the casts of the Theatre Royal Newcastle Pantomime and the Sunderland Empire came together for a party. Along with representatives from Qdos, ATG and International Artists. We present, with their permission, a selection of photos from the event.


L ´┐Ż R Theatre Royal Newcastle panto ensemble Stephanie Velasco, Emily Luke Taylor with Kathryn Rooney, The Magical Mermaid in the Theatre Royal Newcastle pantomime, Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates, and other ensemble members Rosy Thompson, Amy Bruce.


L ´┐Ż R Danny Adams, Robinson Crusoe in the Theatre Royal Newcastle pantomime, Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates, Nick Thomas, Chairman of Qdos Entertainment Plc and Anthony Kavanagh, Aladdin in the Sunderland Empire pantomime, Aladdin.


L ´┐Ż R Danny Adams, Robinson Crusoe in the Theatre Royal Newcastle pantomime, Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates and Steve Walls, Wishee Washee in the Sunderland Empire pantomime, Aladdin.


L ´┐Ż R Danny Adams, Robinson Crusoe in the Theatre Royal Newcastle pantomime, Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates, Nick Thomas, Chairman of Qdos Entertainment Plc, Michael Harrison, Managing Director of Qdos Pantomimes Ltd, Kathryn Rooney, The Magical Mermaid in the Theatre Royal Newcastle pantomime, Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates and Philip Bernays, Chief Executive of Theatre Royal Newcastle


L ´┐Ż R Kathryn Rooney, The Magical Mermaid in the Theatre Royal Newcastle pantomime, Robinson Crusoe and the Caribbean Pirates with Dale Meeks, Widow Twankey in the Sunderland Empire pantomime, Aladdin.


L ´┐Ż R Michael Lynas, Executive Director of ATG, Nick Thomas, Chairman of Qdos Entertainment Plc and Michael Harrison, Managing Director of Qdos Pantomimes Ltd.


L ´┐Ż R Phil Dale, Director at International Artists and Nick Thomas, Chairman of Qdos Entertainment Plc.

24th December 2008

Sisters! Unfrocked!

Andrew Ryan and Graham Hoadly are currently appearing at the New Wimbledon Theatre as Lavinia and Lucinda. These backstage photos are used with their permission and show them backstage preparing for the performance!

Click on Images to Enlarge


On a milestone note - these photos actually form the 1000th Gallery Page on IBY! The site, which started in 2000, opened with a total of about 20 pages - so you could say we've come a long way!

6th December 2008

Congratulations - King of The Jungle!

Congratulations to Joe Swash who last night was crowned King of the Jungle in the latest series of I'm a Celebrity..... He beat tennis ace Martina Navratilova to win the coveted crown and joins fellow pantomime performers Christopher Biggins and Joe Pasquale in being crowned King. He now has to hot foot it to Chatham where he is starring as Buttons in Cinderella from the 12th December!

26th November 2008

Cinderella: The Shoe Must Go On!

´┐ŻCinderella: The Shoe Must Go On!´┐Ż is a unique one-night-only family pantomime, taking place this Christmas on Sunday 21st December at London´┐Żs famous Piccadilly Theatre.

With a little help from some well known faces (Jason Flemyng, gorgeous Hollywood actress Kate Mara and Stardust heartthrob Charlie Cox) and a group of Charlie´┐Żs friends with no previous on-stage experience are producing and starring in the pantomime to help raise funds for Starlight Children´┐Żs Foundation and on the night to help grant a very special wish´┐Ż..

Chelsea-Louise (16) suffers from the incurable condition Cystic Fibrosis, the most common hereditary disorder in Western Europe . When she asked Starlight to grant her wish of a lifetime to perform on a West End stage, finding a production that could accommodate her seemed like a very tall order, even for the fairy godmothers at Starlight. Actor Charlie Cox who supports Starlight persuaded his XII slightly reluctant friends (almost all of whom last acted in their nursery school nativity play!!) to join him in writing, producing and staring in a one-off performance of their own version of the Cinderella story.

So that´┐Żs a handful of acting talent, XII extremely nervous friends and one very excited little girl: on stage at the Piccadilly Theatre this Christmas, with all proceeds going to Starlight Children´┐Żs Foundation.

Tickets are available now from the Piccadilly Theatre Box Office, tel no 08444 126666.

Prices are extremely reasonable adults are ´┐Ż20.00, ´┐Ż35.00, and children are ´┐Ż10.00. Best seats in house are ´┐Ż75.

 To refer a seriously ill child to Starlight or to make a donation, simply log on to www.starlight.org.uk or call 020 7262 2881.

27th October 2008

Royal Mail Pantomime Stamps

The Royal Mail have just announced their Christmas 2008 Stamps and they will feature pantomime characters. Further details are available from the Royal Mail website - LINK

31st July 2008



Which way to the Prince's Castle? - oops, sorry, wrong show!


Time is running out to catch Peter Robbins, one half of The Uglies, as Sherlock Holmes in the Illyria Open Air Tour of Hound of the Baskervilles. Tour dates can be obtained from the website.

13th June 2008

Paul Elliott - 50 Years in Showbusiness!


Read our special report of Paul Elliott's celebration of 50 Years in Showbusiness.

30th May 2008

Brian Godfrey Surprise Party - 26th May 2008

Brian Godfrey, Panto Dame and Ugly Sister of long standing, celebrated his sixtieth birthday yesterday. Planning a quiet day he was suitably surprised when a group of his panto mates, fellow farceurs and friends threw a surprise party in Covent Garden.


Celebrating with Brian were Jody Crosier, Jeff Brady, John Crabtree, Nigel Ellacott, Anita Graham, Linda Hayden,  Patrick Jamieson, Jonathan Kiley, Mary and Amanda O'Toole, Mark Pollard, Tony Priestley, Andrew Ryan and Marc Seymour.

Brian will be appearing as Ugly Sister this season for Qdos in "Cinderella" at the Royal and Derngate Northampton.




19th March 2008

THE ENCORE OSCARS - 2007/8 Season

Compiled by Jim Kennedy for Encore Magazine

BUTTONS/MUDDLES: Tucker (Regent Theatre, Ipswich)

DAME: Royce Mills (Yvonne Arnaud Guildford)

UGLY SISTERS: Nigel Ellacott & Peter Robbins (Wycombe Swan)

WICKED WITCH: Alison Fitzjohn (Princes Hall Aldershot)

ABANAZAR: Samuel Holmes (Royal Spa Theatre Leamington)

KING RAT: Colin Baker (Theatre Royal Norwich)

PRINCIPAL BOYS: Nicky Adams (Theatre Royal Norwich) & Tiffany Graves (Capitol Theatre Horsham)

GOOD FAIRY: Amanda Barrie (Gordon Craig, Stevenage)

HENCHMAN: Alex Poulter (Palace Theatre Newark)

SPIRIT OF THE LAMP: Hilary O´┐ŻNeil (Marlowe Th. Canterbury

19th March 2008

What the sisters have been up to since High Wycombe! Part Two


Each year, for the past ten years, The Kenneth More Theatre has staged The Annual London Mayors´┐Ż Pantomime. See our full report.

15th March 2008

What the sisters have been up to since High Wycombe! Part One

We apologise for the delay in bringing you this article! Where has the first part of this year gone!?

Hippodrome Revisited!

Had a great few days recently (Okay this email has been sitting in Simon's Inbox for sometime!) at the Birmingham Hippodrome, seeing ´┐ŻAladdin´┐Ż, and catching up with our mates there- the pantomime plays twice daily until Sunday 27th January. Ian Sandy- company manager-was, as ever a splendid host, and Peter, Andrew and myself would like to thank Ian and the company for a wonderful show and a very jolly company meal afterwards!

Having marvelled at the show- it´┐Żs always a joy to see a new pantomime- special effects include ´┐ŻBogglevision´┐Ż in 3D, and the Daleks (do they get their own dressing room I wonder?) and of course the cast, headed by John Barrowman, The Grumbleweeds, Don Maclean, Lila McConigley, Pete Gallagher, Masashi Fujimoto and Philip Andrew, we ran into Aaron Francis in the Ensemble. Aaron was with us when we played Darlington about seven years ago- good to see him again!

Caught up with the ladies of the wardrobe- Laura and Roanne, and wardrobe supervisor Rodney Worth who were with us last year at the ´┐ŻHippo´┐Ż, as was Bob Willis the Musical Director.

Really enjoyed this show- brought to you by Paul Elliott and Paul Robinson (who presented our show at Wycombe this season) and enjoyed a fun evening chatting to Don and his wife Toni, and to Graham and Robin- aka ´┐ŻThe Grumbleweeds´┐Ż.

Thanks everyone for a lovely night!

4th March 2008

The 2008/9 Diary! It's Never to Early to Start!

Now in it's full format

21st February 2008

Record Ticket Sales for 2007/8 Pantomime Season


17th February 2008

Pantomime isn't just for Christmas, it's for Easter as well!


Trio Entertainment present Aladdin at the Valley Community Theatre, Netherley, Liverpool. It runs from the 21st March to the 24th March. Performances 21st (7pm), 22nd (2pm & 7pm), 23rd (2pm & 7pm) and 24th (2pm & 7pm). The cast is still to be confirmed but contains Mr Reece Sibbald as Wishee Washee and Jennifer King as Princess. Trio Entertainment is a group formed from young professionals and young amateurs in Liverpool.


We hope to carry some stories on this production as the opening night approaches.

5th January 2008

The Pantomime Roadshow - 2007 Highlights

It's incredible to think that barely three months ago High Wycombe was in the future and Nigel, Peter and Andrew were touring the country with The Pantomime Roadshow promoting not only the many shows being produced up and down the country but also the history of pantomime. We thought we'd share with you some press cuttings, feedback letters and a video report, just to show you what the gang get up to before panto season.


w/c 29th October - His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen

Two Newspaper Articles - The Times Educational Supplement and St Peter's Press/The Primary Times

click to enlarge

Click on letters to read some of the pupils feedback


w/c 5th November - Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton

See the Video Feedback from Wolverhampton

Opens in Express and Star Website

Nigel Ellacott, Peter Robbins and Andrew Ryan

20th December 2007

APPEARING IN THE STAGE - 20th December Issue


Nigel helping Mark Ritchie with his pantomime preparations and an article about Mark's forthcoming pantomime debut.



6th December 2007



So who is this fresh faced Dame - Harbour Arts Centre, Irvine in Scotland. This actor has penned many scripts for FFE this year and not only is he also appearing in an FFE pantomime but he's also appeared in the nations favourite soap! Do you know who it is? Well click here to solve the mystery!


1st December 2007

BIGGINS - King of the Jungle!



Congratulations to Christopher Biggins on being crowned King of the Jungle in the latest series of I'm a Celebrity......he joins fellow pantomime star Joe Pasquale in being one of the winners of the Celebrity Reality Show. Biggins isn't appearing in Panto this year - he'll probably not have too much time now - but we hope to see him back amongst the fold next year!

26th November 2007

Pantomime Political Correctness!

Seems pantomime is a source of great discussion at the moment - this taken from The Sunday Telegraph.





26th November 2007

Pantomime Countdown Continued!

Well, the clock on the Wycombe webpage now says 10 days until we open in ´┐ŻCinderella´┐Ż- and the clock is ticking! I´┐Żll be starting the Wycombe Diary in earnest from Tuesday 27th November and, internet permitting, sending daily reports from the ´┐ŻSwan´┐Ż about life backstage, life on stage and, oh- I guess ´┐ŻThe Life Of Brian´┐Ż while I´┐Żm at it- Conley that is!

Since the last Panto Update Peter & I have been travelling up and down the country with the Pantomime Roadshow- I think we clocked 1,400 miles this time, and played to about eight thousand children all in all! We visited Hull, Aberdeen and Wolverhampton, and send thanks to all concerned at the theatres there for all their help.

With less than a day to go before rehearsals begin, there´┐Żs still a lot of pre panto-ing to do, especially on my ´┐Żother´┐Ż panto- ´┐ŻJack & The Beanstalk´┐Ż at the Kenneth More, Ilford. Final fittings were scheduled for most of last week, and we had a poorly Giant to attend to. Sadly when Giant Blunderbore was retrieved from storage, he´┐Żd fallen asleep on one side, and damaged his framework, so off he goes, back to meet his maker, and hopefully returns in time for rehearsal.

In between fittings Peter arrived at the theatre to get our costumes ready for collection last Friday- that worked out to be two rails of costumes, and one rail of wigs- we´┐Żve found that putting the wigs in bags and tying them to the rail means we can transport about sixteen on one rail. This takes up much less room than boxing them individually. The larger items (The deckchair, picnic basket and ice-cream costumes) are impossible to wrap, so they´┐Żll travel swathed in sheets in the meantime!

Hopefully by December 5th our costumes should be winging their way to Wycombe, arriving with the set and the rest of the show´┐Żs wardrobe. Jack´┐Żs Giant should be having an operation, and all my flower fairies for Ilford will be fitted and kitted out with wings and wands..then it´┐Żs straight into rehearsal tomorrow, and the Wycombe Diary starts for real!

15th October 2007

Pantomime Countdown

Glancing at the website for High Wycombe I was greeted by their ´┐Żcountdown´┐Ż clock, informing me that there are 58 days until we open in ´┐ŻCinderella´┐Ż!

Those of us who have visited the odd department stores recently will be left in no doubt that panto is just around the corner- about a month ago I saw my first Christmas tree in Debenhams's- I swear it was wilting in the heat of late Summer! It seems that decorations and cards are flooding into the shops earlier and earlier, and for those of us involved in putting on a panto, it makes us feel decidedly edgy!

This last week Peter and I (along with Andrew Ryan) were in Hull with the Pantomime Roadshow, visiting ten schools in the area to bring some of the flavour of panto- along with a bit of its history and tradition to the children. It was an eye-opener to us to witness those schools coping so well with some of the worst flooding in modern times. Many schools we visited had been flooded and were either undergoing restoration and repair, or awaiting the builders.

I play the piano as part of the Roadshow, and in three cases there WAS no piano. With water rising almost two feet in some cases, the school halls suffered, the piano was ruined and most of the electrical equipment followed suit. the New Theatre itself had been flooded, and the dressing room and orchestra pit area badly effected. The Schools, along with the Theatre have declared ´┐ŻBusiness as usual´┐Ż, and it was extremely uplifting to see the ´┐Żshow going on´┐Ż in both classroom and auditorium!

Before we set off for Aberdeen and Wolverhampton with the Roadshow there´┐Żs some frantic ´┐Żfinishing off´┐Ż to be done on the Pantomime I´┐Żve written and that I´┐Żm costuming. I won´┐Żt be alone- all over the country at this time of year the final preparations are underway for the pantomime season.

The costumes I´┐Żve designed are now gradually making their way back to me for final fittings and alterations, just as they are in wardrobe departments all over the country. The children´┐Żs footwear and tights are on order (that´┐Żs 24 pairs of shoes in total- and what´┐Żs the betting that the children´┐Żs feet have grown since they were measured?) The late castings of Jack & Jill mean that some costumes may have to be made at this late stage, and my ´┐ŻFlower Fairy´┐Ż opening is not yet completed- Fairy Daffodil has had five inches removed from the hem and Fairy Fuchsia is awaiting her petals!

Over the next fortnight I will be trying to fit in fittings frantically! With the chorus changing six times, and the juveniles changing five times, plus the Principals, there are a lot of costumes to be collated and sorted before early December. The Giant has yet to meet  the actor who will be staggering under the weight of Blunderbore, and the inflatable beanstalk (courtesy of Qdos) won´┐Żt be arriving for a few weeks yet.

The ´┐ŻSpecial effects´┐Ż  for the show are underway, and the rig from Hi-Fly has been organised to fly Jack up to beanstalk-land, but as yet these are all to become reality.

All over the UK at this moment the wardrobe boxes and rails are starting to fill up. Wigs are being stewed and glued at the wig factory, the shoe factory is coping with the demands of a Dame Boot (Spanish heel, side zip, laced front. Pink) in Size 11 upwards, and someone somewhere has decided that Daisy the cow´┐Żs udders HAVE to be replaced, along with a set of new paws for Tommy The Cat.

Authors are hastily adding a character called ´┐ŻRat-A-Two-EE´┐Ż into Dick Whittington (By the way Mr Disney, I wrote a Rat-A-Two-Ee´┐Ż into the Ilford Panto eight years ago- a cheque will be fine!) and  the producers are still waiting to see if there is a number for the Songsheet due out in the next few weeks!

Peter and I will be checking our costumes are ready to be collected, and packing our touring tea-set earlier this year, as we´┐Żve still got to fit in two more Roadshows before we start rehearsals on November 26th..

Yes- it is the countdown to pantomime. It is starting to get busier with each passing day, and sometimes you feel it will never be ready on time- but then, it always is! Maybe THAT is the magic of panto?

Nigel Ellacott

1st October 2007

Pre-Pantomime Whereabouts!


So what do you do out of season? Where can you find some of our regular pantomime performers and associates! Well this little IBY handy guide to just a few of them might get you in the mood for a pre-pantomime theatre visit!


RUTH MADOC - Ruth can be seen as Miss Hannigan in the Chris Moreno's UK Tour of Annie. Tour dates up to the end of the year:- w/c 1st Oct Scarborough, w/c 8th Oct Halifax, w/c 15th Oct Nottingham, w/c 22nd Oct Sheffield, w/c 29th Oct Dartford, w/c 5th Nov St Albans. Then Ruth goes to Blackpool for SLEEPING BEAUTY with UK Productions.


BRITT EKLAND  is about to open in "Grumpy Old Women" alongside Dillie Keane and Denise Black. The National tour premiers in Basildon at the Towngate Theatre this Wednesday (September 26th) and continues around the country on a series of one night stands right up until December 3rd at the Festival Theatre Edinburgh. see www.grumpyoldwomenlive.com  for dates. Britt then heads directly for the Wyvern Theatre Swindon where she will be appearing as the Fairy Godmother in "Cinderella".


Talking of Cinderella, our very own webmaster Simon Curtis is just about to open in a production of La Cenerentola by Rossini. Produced by Welsh National Opera it opened in Cardiff last week and heads out on tour in a couple of weeks taking in Liverpool, Southampton, Oxford, Swansea, Bristol, Llandudno and Birmingham. More details can be found on www.wno.org.uk.


La Cenerentola - WNO Full Cast

Pictures ´┐Ż Bill Cooper - Simon is the one on the top level, furthest right!


GARY WILMOT is starring in "Half A Sixpence" on tour at the moment. Gary won't be making a pantomime appearance this year, but will be appearing at the Mayflower Theatre Southampton over Christmas in The Wizard of Oz. Details of Half a Sixpence can be found on the Bill Kenwright website. KATHRYN ROONEY is also appearing in Half a Sixpence as Flo Bates - she can be seen in Newcastle this coming season in Aladdin.


DAVID ESSEX is starring in 'Aspects of Love' on tour before he takes a break to head to Northampton to play Captain Hook for Qdos. This tour is co-produced by Michael Harrison - the new Qdos Pantomime Managing Director.


A busy man Michael, he is also producing, alongside panto producing legend Paul Elliot, the musical 'Hot Flush'. It stars SHEILA FERGUSON, SAM KANE, with panto veterans Rula Lenska and Marti Webb. It tours for the rest of the autumn w/c 1st Oct - High Wycombe, w/c 15th Oct - Manchester, w/c 29th Oct - Canterbury, w/c 5th Nov - Hull, w/c 12th Nov - Edinburgh, w/c 19th Nov - Llandudno and w/c 26th Nov - Richmond. Sheila then heads off to Chatham with Evolution Pantomimes and Sam heads to Wolverhampton with Qdos.


Bad Girls star HELEN FRASER is currently reviving her "Bodybag" role in "Bad GIrls The Musical" at the Garrick Theatre in London's West End, before appearing as Fairy Bodybag in "The Sleeping Beauty" at the Pavilion Bournemouth alongside Malandra Burrows, Christopher Pizzey and Andrew Ryan, for UK Productions.


It's still not too late to catch One For the Road at the Mill Theatre, Sonning. Husband and wife LYNETTE MCMORROUGH and NICK WILTON are spending some time together before the pantomime season sends them to different parts of the country. Nick is off to Hull with Qdos and Lynette is off to Richmond, Surrey with FFE. The play runs at Sonning until October 20th.


We're sure that these aren't the only ones, so if you have any more information please send it to us.


26th September 2007

The Magic of Pantomime Roadshow



Dates have been announced for the Autumn of 2007. The Roadshow will be visiting Hull, Aberdeen and Wolverhampton. Check out the Roadshow pages for more information.

25th August 2007


Paul Elliott's comedy is back on the road and heading to a theatre near you in the run up to the pantomime season. Read the article for more information.

5th August 2007



Beauty and the Beast

The New Empire Theatre, Southend On Sea

from Thursday 9th - Tuesday 14th August 2007 at 2pm & 7pm daily:

with Pete Hillier, Paul Ferguson, Paul Cattermole and Carly Hillman.


Dick Whittington

The Marina Centre, Great Yarmouth

or telephone 01493 851521

Every Friday night from 27th July to 31st August 2007

Danny Hanton & Gavin Dean are back for their third summer panto in Great Yarmouth. Packed full of traditional routines and madcap humour.


28th June 2007


Jody Crosier, Brian Godfrey, Councillor Joyce Ryan, Kathryn Rooney, Clare Harvey


Redbridge Council launched its new information website today, and invited a few panto pals over to the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford to help launch the event, along with the Mayor of Redbridge, Councillor Joyce Ryan.

Clare Harvey, Jody Crosier, Kathryn Rooney & Brian Godfrey


Familiar faces from Pantoland seen here are Brian Godfrey in his role as Dame, (Brian will be appearing in Wolverhampton this season) Kathryn Rooney in her role as Snow White (Kathryn will forsake Snow White for Princess Jasmine at Newcastle this Christmas), Jody Crosier, seen here as Buttons (Jody joins Nigel & Peter at High Wycombe again this panto) and Clare Harvey as Cinderella (Clare will be choreographing at Broxbourne this pantomime season).

Nigel Ellacott

Nigel Ellacott took to the keyboard for this event, leaving the hosting of the launch to his panto pals. A good time was had by all!

p.s if you look very closely at the photograph of our panto stars with the Mayor, on the wall behind them you might spot webmaster Simon Curtis - in a photograph displayed at the theatre from a production of Albert Herring, the Opera! So even Simon got in on the act!

24th June 2007


Nick Thomas, Chairman of Qdos Entertainment, today announced that Michael Harrison, one of the country´┐Żs most successful young producers, has been appointed Managing Director of the company´┐Żs Pantomime Division.

´┐ŻMichael brings to this new position a wealth of creative talent and production skills that will see the Division develop and grow in the future,´┐Ż says Nick. ´┐ŻMichael and Qdos have enjoyed a fruitful relationship over the past few years and I am delighted that this new role will strengthen his association with the company,´┐Ż he added.

Welcoming his new role within the Qdos Group of Companies, Michael Harrison said;

´┐ŻI am absolutely delighted to extend and enhance my relationship with Qdos. I have very much enjoyed working with Nick and the team over the past few years and I am very excited to have the opportunity to help shape and direct the future of the company. It´┐Żs such a pleasure to be involved with an organisation that shares my passion for top quality family entertainment in the great British tradition of pantomime.´┐Ż

Michael will continue to produce independently. His future shows include a national tour of Andrew Lloyd-Webber´┐Żs Aspects of Love, starring David Essex, and a 2008 tour of Hot Flush!, which is enjoying great success on its current UK travels.

Michael takes up his role as Managing Director of the Pantomimes Division with immediate effect.

Paul Elliott, who has enjoyed a long relationship with Qdos, will continue in his role as Creative Consultant along with Jonathan Kiley who will remain as Casting Director for the Pantomimes Division.

The company´┐Żs 2007/08 season will see 19 productions staged throughout the UK, with star names including John Barrowman, Wendi Peters, Brian Conley, Danni Harmer, Joe Pasquale and David Essex.

15th June 2007

Star Name for Sunderland!


FFE have announced this morning that Hollywood Legend MICKEY ROONEY will be appearing as the Baron in Sunderland Empire's Cinderella.


Mickey Rooney needs no real introduction, but for those of you who'd like to read more about this amazing performer - check out his website www.mickeyrooney.com


6th June 2007

Spot The Name

Cadbury Panto Launch - But What Year?!

Here at IBY we recently came across this photograph from a Panto Launch a few years back- an E&B or QDOS launch. I can´┐Żt recall the exact year, and there are a few faces I can´┐Żt make out in this star-studded line-up. Perhaps you can?

Those we can spot we´┐Żve listed below. If you want to see if you can do better, peel your eyes to the photograph, and check the listing afterwards! Happy Star Spotting!

Buster Merryfield, Chloe Newsome, Britt Ekland, Toby Anstis, Vicki Michelle,

Alan Stewart, Lionel Blair, Su Pollard, Sophie Lawrence

Bob Carolgees (and Spit The Dog!), John Inman, Sam Kane, Linda Lusardi

Gareth Hunt, John Altman and Danny La Rue.

Editors Entry! Dairy Milk, Roses, Selection Box...................

26th May 2007

Turn Again Whittington!!

Although early days, as the pantomime subjects begin to trickle into our diary section (updated regularly- so watch this space- several announcements are expected at the end of this month!) one thing has been worrying me- the demise of ´┐ŻDick Whittington´┐Ż.

With each passing year some subjects remain at the top of the ´┐Żwish´┐Ż list for theatres, and others begin to lag behind in popularity. Going back a  good few years you might have enjoyed ´┐ŻGoody Two Shoes´┐Ż, ´┐ŻRobinson Crusoe´┐Ż, ´┐ŻSindbad´┐Ż, ´┐ŻLittle Red Riding Hood´┐Ż or even ´┐ŻHumpty Dumpty´┐Ż.

Then the Golden Goose lost its lustre, and subjects like ´┐ŻMother Goose´┐Ż began to get rarer, as in recent times has ´┐ŻRobin Hood & or Babes In The Wood´┐Ż ´┐ŻGoldilocks´┐Ż has all but vanished- when did you last see a professional production of ´┐ŻPuss In Boots?´┐Ż

I sincerely hope that my thoughts on the demise of Master Whittington are premature and exaggerated- but his name seems to be appearing less and less with each passing year.

Pantomime is all about topicality and popular entertainment- by adapting and adopting the ´┐ŻNow´┐Ż and the ´┐ŻNew´┐Ż it has managed not only to survive, but to thrive- and I know that what fades one minute will indeed return one day- ´┐ŻSleeping Beauty´┐Ż for example. At one point it had all but dropped out of the panto pop list- however, within a few brief years ´┐ŻSleeping Beauty´┐Ż has returned, and judging by box office figures, is proving to be as popular as before.

Fifteen years or so ago you would not have gone to see ´┐ŻPeter Pan- the Pantomime´┐Ż, as it did not exist. The fiercely protected J. M. Barrie copyright prevented his eternal tale from being turned into a pantomime. Now, if you take a look at our Diary, it is well up in the top of the panto charts, along with perennial favourites (and money spinners) Cinderella and Aladdin.

´┐ŻSnow White´┐Ż is heading right for the top- it may even overtake the two ´┐ŻBig Boys´┐Ż- and yet ´┐ŻSnow White´┐Ż is our ´┐Żbaby´┐Ż of a pantomime- others were born over two hundred years ago, the newcomer appeared as a direct result of Walt  Disney´┐Żs film , and appears very slowly as a pantomime from the mid 1950´┐Żs.

The Disney Factor:

It cannot be denied that the magical hand of Disney helps to keep a pantomime´┐Żs popularity. Children everywhere know the Disney version of a fairy tale from watching (over and over again) DVD´┐Żs and reading the associated picture story books. If Disney have made an animated film of your pantomime, it has Box Office appeal throughout the board.

Poor Dick Whittington. Disney has yet to tell his story. How can they have overlooked the potential? Rags to riches, a cute pussy cat, an evil be-whiskered villain? Cut to a tudor style Olde London Town Square- merry Londoners singing ´┐ŻWot Cher!´┐Ż and a cast of cute mice and evil rats to create a sub plot. And what is more- unlike most Fairy Stories, this one IS BRITISH, and (a little bit of it anyway..) IS REAL!! There really WAS a Richard Whittington. He has more pedigree than Robin Hood, our other British panto hero!

While touring with our Pantomime Roadshow over many years, Peter & I get the opportunity to promote pantomime and (hopefully) educate children all over the UK in the tradition and magic of British Pantomime. We also get the opportunity in Primary Schools to engage in a lively Q&A session in the second half. It is here that the root of the problem lies. The story of Dick Whittington seems to be missing from the  minds of school children today. They very often don´┐Żt know the story- not the panto story, we wouldn´┐Żt expect that- but the folk tale of Richard Whittington. They don´┐Żt seem to recognise the phrase ´┐ŻThe streets weren´┐Żt paved with gold´┐Ż- they don´┐Żt know the arch villain King Rat- or the ´┐ŻTurn again Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London´┐Ż part. I think possibly in this DVD and Disney inspired age, his story is not being told.

Teachers- Pantomime Producers-Parents´┐Ż let´┐Żs try and stop Dick Whittington sailing off alone on the ´┐ŻSaucy Sally´┐Ż, and become collectively Fairy Bow-Bells- let´┐Żs raise his profile and cry ´┐ŻTurn Again Whittington!´┐Ż loudly from Highgate Hill. If we do not, I fear that in about five years time the bells won´┐Żt be summoning him back to theatres all over the country!

If you have any thoughts, perhaps you´┐Żd care to e-mail them to us at info@its-behind-you.com.. Or leave a message on the message board. Perhaps Simon will be able to feature a few here in the Green Room  section. Let us know your thoughts on the fate of ´┐ŻDick Whittington´┐Ż.



May  2007


1st May 2007

Here's one of the latest items on our Trading Places page:


This beautiful Art Deco set with stunning and witty costume are up for sale or hire.

What the critics said´┐Ż.

Costumes that make Vivian Westwood like the wallflower of fashion - As gutsy as it is glittery   Time Out *****

The transformation scene is among the enchanting best I´┐Żve seen´┐ŻA gorgeous looking ´┐Ż dream on Mare Street Daily Telegraph

Superbly witty costumes by Lotte Collett  Sunday Times ****

DVD gallery

COSTUMES (AVI File - 4MB)   -    SET (AVI File - 15.8MB)


Management Enquiries only to  brian.wren@hackneyempire.co.uk

Requires Windows Media Player

24th February 2007

The Dame Name Game!

Recently I was presented with a framed photograph from David Hartshorne, containing many Pantomime Dames. Identifying the face behind the make-up is never easy, especially on a photo containing over forty  faces!


I´┐Żd got to the point of recognising about a third, when, on closer inspection the back of the photo (hidden by the frame) contained quite a few names. However- these were obviously given to the photographer verbally, and a few names are ´┐Żsound alikes´┐Ż- i.e ´┐ŻSandy Bridges´┐Ż. (Alexander Bridge!) and ´┐ŻPete Prayson´┐Ż (for Peter Dayson!).


One thing that puzzled Peter and myself was our apparent presence there, dressed as Carmen Mirandas- right at the back (far right). Was it us? Had we both forgotten doing this shoot? Blowing the image up on the screen proved we hadn´┐Żt lost the marbles. It´┐Żs Jackie Clarke and Barry Gosney wearing the frocks we lent them for their debut as Ugly Sisters that year!


Here´┐Żs the photograph, taken in 1989. Here at IBY we´┐Żre wondering how many you can name- and indeed, were you one of the dames photographed on December 4th 1989 ´┐Ż probably at a Hotel in Victoria London?


Have fun. See how many you can identify!



THE NAMES: (Allegedly!)


Roy Alvis, Joey (?) Black, Alexander Bridge, Douglas (Bloomer?), Christopher Biggins, George Callender , Ronnie Corbett, Raymond Cleeve (?), Colin Deveraux (Dockyard Doris), Jackie Clarke, Seb Craig, Peter Dayson, Ceri Dupree, Vince Gardner, Kinny Gardner, Barry Gosney, Brian Godfrey, Kenny Gibson, Leon Green, Brian Gowell (?), Paul Harris, Bobbie Howie (?), Peter John, Roy Kean, Des King, Bobby Kent, Keith Morris (?),Rustie Lee,  Stevie Mark, Simon Parkes, Gordon Peters,  David Quinell, Iain Sanderson, Peter Thorne,  Earl Tobias, David Wareham, Richard Westcott,  Nikki Young.


Missing from the list but identified (I think) by myself are Paul Laidlaw (left 2nd row end)

And David Moreton (top balcony 5th from left) Dave Lynn ( on the top balcony I believe?) Ronnie Corbett is credited- is that him in red 3rd row centre with a target?


Enjoy the game!


*Nigel´┐Żs spots:

 Front Row Left to Right: Peter Thorne (Extreme Left). Seb Craig (3rd from left) Peter John (5th from left).

Second Row Left To Right: Paul Laidlaw (Extreme left) Alexander Bridge (leaning on Pillar) Rusty Lee (Centre) Christopher Biggins, Peter Dayson (2nd from right).


Fourth Row: Colin Deveraux Centre Right).

Staircase Left: Roy Kean (Top)

Staircase Right: Bobby Kent (Top)

Balcony Left To Right: Brian Godfrey (?) David Moreton (4th & 5th ) Kinny Garner, (6th) Dave Lynn (8th) Jackie Clarke & Barry Gosney (Extreme Right).




From Richard Frost

I can't find Ronnie Corbett unless he's top left of photo in polka dots and glasses. I do know that the dame in red with the target, in the centre of the photo, is JOE BLACK who for many years played Ugly Sister with Freddie Sales for Delfont's and was last seen as a member of the Crazy Gang in London in "Underneath the Arches" with Roy Hudd and Chris Timothy at the Prince of Wales.

10th February 2007

The Qdos Pantomime Party 2006/7 at THE IVY

On the day that most of the country suffered heavy snowfalls, despite train stoppages and disruption to the roads, a brave and intrepid gathering of people from Pantoland descended on the prestigious Ivy Restaurant  in London´┐Żs West End!


Hosted by Qdos, the party was to celebrate surviving yet another panto season- producers, Directors, theatre management and artistes alike!


Greeted at the door by Nick Thomas, Jonathan Kiley and Jon Conway, the guests were liberally plied with champagne and a selection of the Ivy´┐Żs dishes served as a buffet. No snow or freezing temperatures would stop actors from getting near free food and drink, and of all the pantomimes the Birmingham Hippodrome had the best cast turn-out!  Jody Crosier, Shobna Gulati, Sean Needham, and Michelle Potter joined Nigel and Peter at the bash - sadly Brian Conley was not able to come (he´┐Żd literally just arrived back from entertaining on the P&O liner in South America). Shobna had only just arrived back from Pakistan (She´┐Żs been filming a documentary) and Dawson Chance sent his apologies from his home in Spain.


We were joined by Paul Elliott and Michael Harrison, and a host of theatre managements from around the UK- including the bosses of Aberdeen, Bradford, High Wycombe, St.Albans, Hull and their representatives.


Great to meet up again with Sophie Lawrence, Kathryn Rooney and Maurice Thorougood, and delighted to run into Alan Stewart. Kathryn has literally just finished the long run at Wolverhampton. The rest of us have had a week or so to catch up on life outside of the dressing room!

Kathryn Rooney - Asleep until next year!


The champagne flowed, as did the conversation. It is such a rare event fr all of us in this world of panto to get together- generally we´┐Żre all working at the same time. Thanks to Qdos we were able to chat and compare runs, and catch up with old friends. Peter and I were there at ´┐Żchucking out´┐Ż time- around 5pm (we´┐Żd arrived at 12.30pm!) and everyone leaving was presented with a beautifully wrapped inscribed gift by Sharon Kiel.


Thanks Nick and Jon and everyone at Qdos- we had a great time, and  the party was very much appreciated by one and all!


(l to r) Michelle Potter, Nigel, Sean Needham, Jody Crosier / Michelle, Nigel, Peter, Sean / Peter, Allan Stewart, Nigel


The Executive Producers of Qdos Entertainment (Paul Elliot, Jonathan Kiley, with Michael Harrison and Jon Conway ) with Nick Thomas (middle), Charlotte Gooch (L) and Chris Stanton (R)


(l to r) Charlotte Gooch, Nick Thomas, Michelle Potter, Chairs Stanton / Lewis Griffiths, Kathryn Rooney, Allan Stewart / Qdos´┐Ż Nicole Dukeman and Sharon Harding with Sid Owen


Toy Theatres - it's never too early to buy Christmas Presents!!

The Toy Theatre is of 'The Palace Theatre' Leicester, built in 1901 and demolished 1960. It was designed by the eminent Victoria Theatre architect Frank Matcham for Sir Oswald Stoll and was of 'Moorish' design. I have drawn and hand painted it from actual auditorium photographs.



is supplied all on one sheet, from which the purchaser cuts out and adheres to card and makes up into a toy theatre from Instruction supplied with the sheet. Also supplied is a brief history of the Palace Theatre Leicester detailing the famous artistes who appeared there.


The sheet size is 70cms by 50cms

Contains the Proscenium - Eastern Act Drop Curtain- one set of curtain Border and wings.

The Theatre Proscenium size is 40cms by 50cms Proscenium Opening is 22cms wide by 18cms high.


The one sheet price is ´┐Ż5.00 Sterling

UK Postage and packing extra ´┐Ż2.00 Sterling Delivery Immediate ex stock.


cheques payable to 'Mr D. Garratt'


ORDERS AND FURTHER INFORMATION email dgarratt41@hotmail.com and remember to mention the site!

25th March 2007

Pantoland Discovered in Essex!!

I think Pantoland moved to Essex today- well, it seemed like that to me! Went for lunch in Rural Essex with Isobel Hurll (Panto Fairy Godmother) and bumped into Bradley Walsh!

Bradley was also having lunch, along with his wife Donna and son, Barney. Haven´┐Żt seen them in a while- Peter and I did Nottingham and then Wimbledon ´┐ŻCinderella´┐Ż with Bradley, who tells me that last panto Barney joined him on stage as his comedy partner- Bradley was Buttons and Barney (aged ten) was Zip!. Great to catch up with all the news, and- as soon as the powers that be give us permission, we´┐Żll be able to publish where Bradley will be appearing in Panto this year. It´┐Żll be in our diary section, and, without giving too much away, he´┐Żll be in oriental mood not a great distance from where Peter & I will be fitting our crystal slippers!

Driving back I got a text from Vivienne McMaster (Panto fairy and P.Girl) to remind me that my brother Vivyan´┐Żs Kenneth More Theatre was hosting the Lady Ratlings Charity Show this evening. Diverted to call backstage and met up with the two newest Lady Ratlings- Vivienne and our other mate, Hilary O´┐ŻNeil!

I mentioned to ´┐ŻHils´┐Ż that I´┐Żd just put a short obituary to Frank Seton on the website- we both did ´┐ŻPuss In Boots´┐Ż at the then ´┐ŻCivic´┐Ż St.Albans. That was Hilary´┐Żs pantomime debut as Colin, Principal Boy. We had a chat about Frank- lots of lovely memories.

Backstage also were Anna Karen (Fairy) and her husband, the comedian Terry Duggan- along with Barry Cryer (Panto Dame) and Taryn Kaye (P.Girl and panto Fairy) and caught up with the news from Doreen Hermitage (Past Queen Ratling and doyen of many pantomimes).

On stage rehearsing was Rose Marie (who has made several Panto appearances over the years) and a host of ladies who have performed as singers, soubrettes and speciality acts in pantomimes since the 1950´┐Żs through to today-

All in all, a remarkable lunch- it convinced me that, for today, the Kingdom of Pantoland had truly moved to Essex!

10th February 2007

So Who Can You Name!!

Just a bit of fun - Who can you name from this Qdos Advert taken from February 2007's Encore Magazine

9th February 2007

Panto is not just for Christmas!!

Sleeping Beauty - Hull New Theatre - 13th to 17th February 2007



21st January 2007


Announced from the stage at the Birmingham Hippodrome last night - Cinderella is the first pantomime to take over ´┐Ż2 Million at the Box Office!



31st December 2006

Dan Taylor


We were very saddened to hear about the passing of Dan Taylor on the 27th December 2006.  For those regular readers of IBY you will know that Dan was the son of the pantomime star Dan Rolyat and through the efforts of Dan's son Rich, he was able to make contact with several unknown family members and also provide us with a fascinating article on Dan Rolyat.


Dan Taylor lived in New York with his wife Marianne - he was eighty years old. We send our love and best wishes to his family at this difficult time. As the email from Rich which carried the sad news said:-

As tough a time as this is for me and my family, we take great comfort and are uplifted in knowing that finally, he is reunited with his parents. He is an orphan no more. I'll bet he and Dan Rolyat are playing cricket or soccer right now!

Needless to say, it has been an extraordinary experience connecting with all of you in this past year, discovering family we didn't know we had, and most of all, for bringing my dad closer to the father he never knew. My family and I are forever grateful for all that you have done.

Dan allowed us to reproduce his article 'How Lucky Can You Get?' about his early life in the Actors Orphanage and his return there in 1999. It is absolutely fascinating and well worth a read.

4th December 2006



The future of the Theatre Museum is bleak and we here at IBY support The Stage's campaign to save it - the collection includes many major pantomime goldmines including the Charles Wilhelm collection which we unearthed. Click on the logo above to see how you can help. Thank You.






Recent News - http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/newsstory.php/15088/blackpool-bids-to-host-theatre-museum

3rd December 2006


To be truthful, I hadn´┐Żt noticed, and Peter hadn´┐Żt noticed, but the Hippodrome Birmingham reminded us that this is our Twenty-Fifth anniversary as The Ugly Sisters- almost to the day on December 19th!

I did wonder about those words ´┐Żveteran´┐Ż that kept appearing whenever our names were mentioned- now I know why!

Twenty Five Cinderella´┐Żs eh? In fact, Twenty-six or seven for Peter, as he was Sistering when I was striding around in a fur suit doing Puss-In-Boots. I never sounded like Antonio Banderas, but there you are´┐Ż

It´┐Żll be our Twenty-Third consecutive ´┐ŻCinderella´┐Ż for both Paul Elliott´┐Żs E&B Productions and for Qdos combined, and it ´┐Żdon´┐Żt seem a day too long´┐Ż as the music hall song goes!

Well- the Panto season is well upon us. Several stalwarts have already opened, a great many are already into the rehearsal process, and throughout the country there is a mass exodus of artistes, technicians and musicians cancelling the milk and packing their bags.

The past few months have flown by for me- getting another ´┐ŻCinderella´┐Ż ready- script and costumes (The Kenneth More Panto starts rehearsing on December 11th), touring with the Panto Roadshow and directing the Tamworth panto themed show- it has been non stop panto since late August. Finally, time to concentrate on the show in hand. Peter and I begin rehearsals in London on Tuesday for ´┐ŻCinderella´┐Ż, directed by Paul Elliott- the man who gave us our first E&B Pantomime twenty-three years ago! Thank you Paul!

We´┐Żll rehearse for the week in London with all our old mates and some new ones, then travel to Birmingham ready to rehearse at the Hippodrome from December 11th.

During the rehearsals, and indeed the season I´┐Żll be regularly updating the ´┐ŻBirmingham Diary´┐Ż- give or take the odd day off when the feet will be aching (the shoes) the back will be aching (the wigs- yes, they ARE heavy!) and I just can´┐Żt face turning on the laptop! However, nothing will be missed out I can assure you!

For everyone currently opened, For those in rehearsal, and for others like ourselves just about to drop off the planet of ´┐Żreal life´┐Ż for two months.. Have a good one!

The Diary begins from Tuesday!


19th November 2006

Nigel's Report from Tamworth!

15th November 2006

PADDY DICKIE (1948-2006)

We at IBY were very saddened to hear that Paddy Dickie, one of this countries top costumiers had passed away.

Paddy came from a theatrical family that included her late parents- William (Bill) Dickie and Mary Dickie, along with her Uncle Murray Dickie. Both Bill Dickie and Murray Dickie were renowned in the world of Opera, with appearances at La Scala Milan and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Mary frequently appeared with Ian Wallace as his accompanist, and worked alongside her daughter Paddy creating theatrical costumes from their home in Chiswick. The quality of Paddy´┐Żs costumes, along with the intricate beading created by Mary made her the most sought after maker for West End and pantomimes.

Paddy specialised in creating fabulous costumes for her Dames - they were not just her clients, but became her best friends over the years. Her ´┐ŻWalk-downs´┐Ż , often designed by Terry Parsons became her trademark. Stanley Baxter, Billy Dainty, Terry Scott and her dear friends Gordon and Bunny Jay were frequent visitors to the attic room in Chiswick for fittings and, it must be said, for  a lot of laughter.

I remember struggling to get up the loft ladder to her attic one day as the entire room appeared to have been taken over by Terry Scott´┐Żs voluminous frilled walk-down costume- acres of frilled confection spilled out of the room and down into the hall beneath. Somewhere amongst the tule sat Paddy and Mary at two sewing machines, almost hidden!

There is a lovely sequence in the Channel 4 documentary ´┐ŻPantoland´┐Ż where Paddy is doing a Dame fitting with Bill Dainty. This clip shows just a glimpse of what fun there was, and what joy there was to be had in their work environment.

I first met Paddy in 1977 when I was employed by her father (then part of the Richard Stone Agency) to do a summer season with Gordon and Bunny Jay. We remained friends from that day onwards. The day I heard the very sad news I was on tour with the Panto Roadshow. During the show I opened the large wicker skip that is a part of the action and looked wistfully at the big letters printed on the inside of the canvas- ´┐ŻSADFU´┐Ż- Netheravon Road, Chiswick.- ´┐ŻSADFU´┐Ż was the name of Bill Dickie´┐Żs Company, and the skip- along with many costumes were given to me by Paddy many years ago.

Paddy taught me how to steam a top hat- and how to stretch one. She taught me that ALL hangers must face the same way on a rail (´┐ŻIncase of fire you see.. you can knock the end off the rail and slide them out of the window!- plus they never tangle that way..) She taught me to respect costumes and, if looked after, and made to her exacting standards, they would last for a very long time. I have many of Paddy´┐Żs costumes from the early ´┐Ż70´┐Żs, and  they are as good as the day they left her workshop.

Just recently- during the summer a large box arrived. It was from Paddy. Inside was a gorgeous green hat- Dame sized and beautifully made. She rang me. ´┐ŻI went to a millinery course, made this, and thought of you. Any use for You or Peter in panto?´┐Ż

Paddy's hat - as modelled by Mr Peter Robbins!

That hat will make it´┐Żs premier appearance at the Hippodrome this Christmas. Thank you Paddy- and thanks for all the help, advice and laughs along the way.

Nigel Ellacott

November 2006

Stage Obituary

Some costumes from The Old Vic's ALADDIN - the costumes were created by Paddy for Sir Ian McKellen


2nd November 2006


Performer DOUGLAS MOUNCE will be totally immersed in pantomime this Christmas.  Not only is he appearing as Nurse Glucose in ´┐ŻRobin Hood and the Babes In The Wood´┐Ż opposite ANNE CHARLESTON (Neighbours) and THOMAS CRAIG (Coronation Street) at The Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth he is also the Producer of the Radio 4 programme ´┐ŻUnder The Skin´┐Ż

There is an old showbusiness joke about beginning your career by playing the back legs of the cow in pantomime, but for many performers this was their chosen role, and one which they took very seriously.   Known as ´┐Żskin performers´┐Ż, each year they would play the cow in ´┐ŻJack and the Beanstalk´┐Ż, the cat in ´┐ŻDick Whittington´┐Ż or the goose which brings fortune to ´┐ŻMother Goose´┐Ż.

Presenter BERNIE CLIFTON, famous for his performing Ostrich, shares some of his memories of working with these artistes and discovers the techniques and the problems of bringing these scene-stealers to life with the help of archive contributions of many of these performers including BARBARA NEWMAN, TERRY DOOGAN, JUNE AND PAUL KIDD, GERRY LEE and CLAUDE ZOLA, plus new interviews with among others ROY HUDD, JOHN INMAN and PAUL ELLIOTT.

Made by Ladbroke Radio Productions the programme is scheduled for transmission on Radio 4 at 11.30 am on Thursday December 28th.

26th October 2006

THE SISTERS - Not a 'Tour de Force' but 'Forced to Tour!'

Yes- it´┐Żs that time of year again. The intrepid Sisters, Nigel & Peter set off once again on the Roadshow, joined by Andrew Ryan to spread the word of Panto.

Having spread the good news to Redbridge and Birmingham this year, their Pantomime Roadshow heads off this week-end for Aberdeen!

Taking to the high road in a high top transit crammed with panto-mobilia, the three thesps will be playing ten shows on behalf of His Majesty´┐Żs Theatre, before heading South to do the same for the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton. Hopefully about 3,000 school children will have a flavour of panto by the time they depart.

There´┐Żs Snow Business Like Show Business!

Two days after the last Wolverhampton date is played Nigel heads for the icy slopes of The Snow Dome in Tamworth. He´┐Żs written, and will be directing the Snow Dome´┐Żs Winter Wonderland show that runs from the middle of November through until early January. It´┐Żs panto themed (naturally) and  produced by Ian Sandy- The Production Office and the Snow Dome itself.

Andrew  Ryan heads to the Lyceum Sheffield, where he´┐Żs written, and will direct ´┐ŻThe Sleeping Beauty´┐Ż, playing the role of Dame for UK Productions.

A Few days later, back from the Frozen Climes of the Dome, Nigel rejoins Peter Robbins to begin rehearsals for ´┐ŻCinderella´┐Ż at the Hippodrome Birmingham, Produced by Qdos and Directed by Paul Elliott- See the Birmingham Diary for frequent updates- as it happens!

So- in the meantime Nigel´┐Żs finished writing the Kenneth More Theatre´┐Żs ´┐ŻCinderella´┐Ż and eight other pantomimes being produced between now and February for various companies & Societies both here in the UK and in Canada- so, along with  the Winter Wonderland show he might get a bit ´┐ŻSnowed Under´┐Ż- sorry- but it IS Panto time!

Do keep sending any updates for the Diary as usual to info@its-behind-you.com! We look forward to hearing your news!

12th October 2006

Jewel and Warris Pantomime Props - Updated

Jewel and WarrisIn 2002 we were asked by the British Music Hall Society to salvage some pantomime props belonging to the late Jimmy Jewel, of Jewel and Warris. (see Double Acts feature). We were asked to find them a good home, as the premises they have been stored for the past twelve years were to be renovated.

The props turned out to be part of a "Haunted Bedroom" set, and a very unusual Welsh Dresser- all in a very sad state of repair. Fortunately, the Kenneth More Theatre has been able to restore them, and in most cases get their mechanisms (mostly ropes and the odd pulley) back into working order. 

They are all marked "Jimmy Jewel-Liverpool Empire" on the back, and are presumed to be from the late 1940's..possibly made by Jimmy, or by his father. The Welsh Dresser has a flap which, when pulled up from behind the scenery, raises up to become a cow, complete with canvas "udders". I imagine the scene involved having no milk, and "Hey Presto" the cow appears. The family of mice that inhabited the udders had long gone, and "Daisy" is now repainted- so good Moos there... (sorry!)

The "Haunted Bedroom" furniture consists of a fireplace with a sliding portrait above it- revealing, we imagine a ghostly face behind the bars looking in. There is also a clever skeleton on a hat rack- disguised by placing a bowler hat and overcoat over it, and a trick piece of furniture- suspiciously resembling a commode. When you place an item on the "lid" it drops through, and another lid slams shut with a loud bang!

Should anyone have any further information on these props, we at its-behind-you.com would be extremely interested to receive it - it would be useful to know anything further about these lost, now found pieces of pantomime history.

Thank you!

UPDATE - In 2003 we received this very interesting email!

I was interested to read that you discovered some of my late father's props. I indeed know them well as I started my career pulling the ropes that operated them! I am pleased to report that I have made some progress since this "debut" in 1965!

I was under the impression that the entire haunted house set had been destroyed in a fire about 20 years ago.

I now live in Australia.



UPDATE 12th October 2006

We recently received an email from Jim Platt who pointed out that the Haunted Bedroom set is mentioned in Jimmy Jewel's autobiography Three Times Lucky on page 126.

"We were playing the Palace Manchester in Babes In The Wood. I had resurrected my father's Haunted Bed Chamber sketch from Idle-itis. The original trick scenery had been blitzed in the Second World War when the Salford house was bombed but I remade it"

Mr Platt believes that the sketch was also recreated in the series Funny Man on TV over 13 weeks in the 80's, but he has contacted Thames Television and they don't appear to have any copies. The programmed Funny Man traced the life of a theatrical family based on Jimmy Jewel's own family as a touring show. If anyone happens to have a copy of Funny Man in their video collection i'm sure Mr Platt and all of us here at IBY would be very interested.


UPDATE 3rd December 2006

We received another email from Mark James who pointed out that on the Box Set of Series 5 of Nearest and Dearest there is a three minute local news interview with Jimmy Jewel about the trick set and how long it had been in the family. There is footage of it actually working and he talks of the 150 wires that make it work.


10th October 2006


Sunday October 8th 2006

A fairytale wedding reception- held opposite a Palace- what more could you ask? A Pantomime Dame getting spliced to a Pantomime Fairy, in the company of many fellow Dames, Baddies, Principal Boys and Fairies!

Nick Wilton- Dame of the British Empire, and Lynette McMorrough- Fairy  Queen of many realms, celebrated their wedding  with their respective children, Holly, Barnaby and Emma along with over 130 friends on Sunday at a hotel opposite the gates of Hampton Court Palace. It was a wonderful day, with, as you might expect some  skilfully crafted speeches , by both Nick and Best Man Clive Mantle- great company, great food and a band to add to the atmosphere.

Nick and Lynette managed to cram the actual wedding in on a day when Lynette was not performing in a matinee- she´┐Żs currently on tour with ´┐ŻSafari Park´┐Ż, and on a day when Nick wasn´┐Żt rehearsing for ´┐ŻA Bedfull of Foreigners´┐Ż, which is soon to head to Singapore to play venues such as ´┐ŻRaffles´┐Ż hotel, presumably while Lynette tours to slightly less glamorous venues!

Tour over, the happy couple won´┐Żt have much time to relax, as they go their separate ways to Pantoland- Lynette as Fairy in Poole, and Nick as Sarah The Cook to Rhyl.

It was a  marvellous chance to catch up with many mates from the world of Panto during the day- with so many people attending it would be impossible to name them all, but the world of Pantomime brought forth at least seven Fairy Queens- Lynette, (Poole) Kathy Staff, Judy Buxton, (Truro) Sarah Whitlock (who acted as official photographer for IBY- my batteries were flat!) Sue Devaney (Oldham), as well as several Principal Girls including Sara Hollamby and Leila Birch (Millfield)- enough to fill the prologue of ´┐ŻSleeping Beauty´┐Ż in fact!

The Baddies were represented by Michael Kirk, Peter Duncan (Poole) Chris Hacket, Nick Barclay (Loughborough) and Jay Worthy, several of whom ´┐Żdoubled´┐Ż in the Dame line up!

The Dames included Eric Potts (Glasgow) who was the man responsible for Nick and Lynette meeting in the first place, along with Nick Wilton (Rhyl), Jeffrey Holland (Truro), Andrew Ryan (Sheffield), Jonathan Owen (Billingham), Michael Kirk (Hackney) and Jay Worthy ..Oh, and myself- Birmingham!

Brian Cant joined the proceedings on a day off from his Paul Elliott play ´┐ŻNo place like a home´┐Ż, before he joins Lynette in Poole Panto, and ´┐ŻNaughty´┐Ż Nigel Harvey who joins Nick in Rhyl Panto alongside Anna Karen.

Andrew Lynford (Lewisham) and Frazer Hines (Peterborough) were in fine form, along with  the author Jimmy Chin and Mark Llewellyn, Jeremy Gittins, (Who joins Nick in Singapore for ´┐ŻBedfull of Foreigners´┐Ż) Jane Shakespeare, Anita Graham and a cast of dozens more!

Many apologies to those whose names I have omitted, but there wasn´┐Żt a programme published for this all star production, and the brain can only take in so many names after the odd glass of champagne.

To Lynette and Nick- thank you for inviting us all to celebrate your wedding, and, in true panto form, may you both live Happy Every After!

Nigel Ellacott - 9th October 2006


20th September 2006

The Fonz takes over from The Hoff!

After weeks of speculation, rumour and tabloid gossip it has now been announced that Henry Winkler will take over from David Hasselhoff as Captain Hook for FFE at Wimbledon. Winkler is probably best know as The Fonz from Happy Days and this production marks his theatrical debut in the UK and his debut in Pantomime! Eric Potts is adapting the original Barrie story for this production.


News Items



10th September 2006

Birmingham Arts Fest - 9th September 2006


As in previous years, Nigel and Peter represented the Hippodrome yesterday in Centenary Square, Birmingham. Handing out Cinderella leaflets to unsuspecting members of the public, the Sisters certainly cut a dash as they strutted their stuff and posed for photos!

10th September 2006


3 Dames in a show and not one in a frock!

Peter, Ian and Nigel


With Lorna Dallas, Jan Hunt, Peter John, Ian Adams, Nigel Ellacott,

Larry Barnes, Michael Pearse, Steve Galler, Guy and Pat Holloway

Musical Director David Carter


More Photos

2nd September 2006

Barbican Centre offers first pantomime!!

The Barbican Centre in London is offering it's first ever pantomime - Dick Whittington and his Cat - written by Mark Ravenhill. Some of Mr Ravenhill's writing credits couldn't be listed on a family site but he has great fondness for pantomime, dating back to his first ever visit.

" I remember the principal boy singing the Carpenters' 'Top of the World' at my first panto. I remember the jokes about local people and places. I remember the sweets being thrown into the audience. I remember the huge costumes of the Dame, even one vaster and sillier than the one before. I remember the excitement of roaring out all the behinds you and oh no he isn't, which we seemed to know as if by instinct. And I remember the bliss of singing along with the song sheet. I remember it so clearly because every year I get just the same thrill going to the pantomime. It's why I work in the theatre."

The productions first cast member has also just been announced - star of Only Fools and Horses, The Vicar of Dibley and the Harry Potter movies - Roger Lloyd-Pack will be playing Sarah The Cook.

Further details about the production and some fun activities can be found on the website - www.barbican.org.uk/panto

27th August 2006

Stewart McLean 1941 - 2006

Stewart McLean in 1995

We were very saddened recently to hear the news that Stewart McLean had passed away, on August 6th at his home in Glasgow.

Stewart was our company manager, and played the Major Domo in  ´┐ŻCinderella´┐Ż  with Peter and me on two occasions, and what a charming and lovely man he was- a delight to work with, and a fund of very funny stories and anecdotes after the curtain had come down. At the King´┐Żs in Edinburgh he worked alongside his friend Dorothy Paul, who played Fairy Godmother, and very recently had organised her show ´┐ŻA Happy Medium´┐Ż impeccably, as well as playing Mr Proudfoot.

Stewart worked often at the King´┐Żs in Edinburgh, and will be sorely missed this year by Allan Stewart, Andy Grey and everyone at this beautiful venue. His pantomimes at the King´┐Żs were "Dick Whittington" 1998-99, "Cinderella" 1999-2000 and Aladdin 2000-2001. He also worked at His Majesty´┐Żs Aberdeen and at Kirkcaldy on many occasions.

As both an actor and a company manager Stewart was constantly in demand, and would have been rehearsing shortly for a tour  produced by Paul Elliott, who he worked with often.

Stewart had turned to the theatre after a career in business, and in 1994 he turned ´┐Żpro´┐Ż, at the age of 52. He began working at Perth in ´┐ŻMy Fair Lady´┐Ż and ´┐ŻAs You Like It´┐Ż, for Wildcat in ´┐ŻIt Wasnae Me´┐Ż, touring in ´┐ŻWorzel Gummidge´┐Ż, ´┐ŻRomeo and Juliet´┐Ż, ´┐ŻBroadway Bound´┐Ż, ´┐ŻThe Secret Diary of Adrian Mole´┐Ż and at the Byre Theatre, St.Andrews in ´┐ŻWhile The Sun Shines´┐Ż.

His late-starter career also took him into television roles, with appearances in his native Scotland in ´┐ŻRab.C.Nesbitt´┐Ż, ´┐ŻLife Of Jolly´┐Ż, ´┐ŻF.O.T´┐Ż, ´┐ŻAnnie´┐Żs Bar´┐Ż, ´┐ŻTaggart´┐Ż, ´┐ŻDr.Finlay´┐Ż and ´┐ŻHigh Road´┐Ż.

Stewart carried the air of his previous business career with him off-stage, and would greet you backstage before the show in an immaculate suit, and re-appear several minutes later as an even more immaculate Major Domo, in resplendent wig. His often wicked sense of humour  made him a very welcome visitor to the Ugly Sister´┐Żs dressing room for tea between shows, and his timing of a remark- usually just as you were about to sip your tea, was as immaculate as his appearance! His eyes would twinkle, and then he´┐Żd deliver the punch line with aplomb!

Stewart acted as touring Company Stage Manager for Paul Elliott´┐Żs ´┐ŻThe Goodbye Girl´┐Ż with Gary Wilmot, and he looked after Russ Abbot´┐Żs ´┐ŻPeter Pan´┐Ż both at the Theatre Royal Plymouth and at the Theatre Royal´┐Żs in Nottingham and Newcastle.

Britt Ekland and Su Pollard had the joy of working with Stewart in their tour of ´┐ŻSee How They Run´┐Ż, as did Lesley Joseph on her tour of ´┐ŻSingular Women´┐Ż. Stewart had recently managed Su Pollard´┐Żs tour of the UK.

A highly respected Company Manager, Actor and raconteur- Stewart will be missed by all of us who had the great pleasure of working alongside him.

Nigel Ellacott

Obituary from The Herald / Obituary from The Stage

19th July 2006

Summer Pantomime in Great Yarmouth! 2nd Year!


Following their success in 2005 with Aladdin, the boys return in 2006 with Jack and the Beanstalk at the Piazza Showbar in the Marina Centre, Great Yarmouth. Although not household names, their faces are recognised with a great night out in the town. Every Friday night from the 28th July at the Marina Centre it will be full to the brim with Panto fans. Gavin Dean plays the comic lead and hero Jack and Danny Hanton as his mother Dame Trott. The Mixture of traditional routines and their own mad cap humour seems to be a sure fire hit and of course their hilarious ad-libbing makes every show unique. The Marina's famous Summer Pantomimes are a real treat and the best way to end the week.


Further details from www.marina-centre.com (Currently Under Construction) or by phoning 01493 851521

4th July 2006

Britt Ekland to become Alzheimer Patron

THE star of this year's Wyvern Theatre pantomime, Britt Ekland, is to become patron of the Alzheimer's Society.


Britt, who is taking on the role of the Fairy Godmother in this year's production of Cinderella, become interested in the society after her mother died from the illness last year. It is thought she will take on the role at the end of this year.


The Alzheimer's Society is the leading care and research charity for people with all forms of dementia and their carers. It provides information, education and support for carers. It also funds medical research, campaigns for improved health and social services and promotes a greater public understanding of dementia.


The society provides local and national helplines offering advice and information. For more details contact the Swindon branch on 01793 434340 or the national branch on 0845 3000 336.


More information can also be found at www.alzheimers.org.uk


13th June 2006 - Updated 27th August 2006


Birmingham Hippodrome Launch - World Cup Support


Further pictures can be viewed in Nigel and Peter's Birmingham Diary - now up and running


For Radio 4 Listeners - The World Cup is a football tournament played every 4 years between the best national teams in the World. For Radio 4 Listeners - Football is a game played with 22 people............

(Recently heard on Radio 4 - Sorry couldn't resist putting this one in. Ed.)

Online BBC News Footage of the Press Launch - Opens in New Window

2nd June 2006

Freddie Garrity 1936-2006


We at IBY were sad to hear the news about the death of Freddie Garrity, the former lead singer of Freddie and the Dreamers. A Full Obituary appears in The Stage.



5th May 2006 UPDATED

Teachers TV - A Pantomime Special

As part of the 'Worth The Trip' series, Teachers TV take you behind the scenes of the making of the pantomime Cinderella at the Theatre Royal Newcastle. Starring our very own Nigel Ellacott and Peter Robbins discussing all aspects of pantomime as well as looking at the Pantomime Roadshow. Shown originally on the 10th May 2006. The website www.teachers.tv offers this programme to view online.

Programme Link



28th March 2006

Danny La Rue


Danny La Rue has cancelled all future performances under doctors orders. We are sorry to hear that Danny is unwell and all of us at IBY send our best wishes for a swift recovery.




20th March 2006

The Magic of Theatre Roadshow - 15th April 2006


The Magic of Theatre Roadshow will be returning to the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford on Saturday 15th April 2006 for two Shows at 11am and 2.30pm.


Join Billy and friends as they take you backstage in a comedy show with lasers and dancing.

Followed by an actual tour backstage at the Kenneth More Theatre.

Suitable for 6 to 11 year olds.


All Tickets: ´┐Ż3


further details from www.kenneth-more-theatre.co.uk


9th August 2006


3 Dames in a show and not one in a frock!

Peter, Ian and Nigel


With Lorna Dallas, Jan Hunt, Peter John, Ian Adams, Nigel Ellacott,

Larry Barnes, Michael Pearse, Steve Galler, Guy and Pat Holloway

Musical Director David Carter

The Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford
Saturday 2nd September 2006 Matinee (3pm) and Evening (7.30pm)
Sunday 3rd September 2006 Matinee (3pm)

Tickets:  All Seats - ´┐Ż12 (Club Members ´┐Ż10.50) Concessions ´┐Ż8.50

BOX OFFICE NUMBER - 020 8553 4466


Jan Hunt


11th February 2006

The Ivy League

The sisters played hosts for Qdos this week for Theatre Managers from across the UK at the Ivy in London. Full Article and Pictures

Michael Harrison, Peter, Jonathan Kiley, Nick Thomas, Nigel, Paul Elliott, Jon Conway The Qdos collection!

11th February 2006

Joy Skinner


Joy  Skinner died aged almost 90 years of age on 18th January 2006. Joy and her husband Jack were one of pantomime´┐Żs greatest speciality acts with their ´┐ŻFlying Carpet´┐Ż . From 1953 until 1992 they appeared in pantomimes (mostly in ´┐ŻAladdin´┐Ż) and in variety theatres all over the world with their black light (U.V) speciality.

Joy and Jack were both dancers, and created a scene on stage where Jack would cast a spell over Joy, and under his magical influence she would float, then perform a version of ´┐ŻThe Indian Rope Trick´┐Ż ascending towards the flies, and ending with a carpet ride which not only flew on the stage, but would fly over the orchestra pit. With such an act they were always employed in pantomimes throughout the country, finally retiring after their last performance at The Playhouse in 1992.

Jack died a few years later, and for a while the act was leased by another couple- Jack had advertised the complete act, the machinery and, of course its ´┐Żsecrets´┐Ż in ´┐ŻThe Stage´┐Ż shortly after retiring.

Joy (born Joy Bolton Carter) met Jack (Jack Emerson Skinner) whilst they were both working for The Ballets Jooss in 1936. As well as pantomime they took the act into cabaret, and played most of Europe and the Far East over the years.

Today many pantomimes have a ´┐ŻFlying Carpet´┐Ż effect in Aladdin, but Emerson & Jayne were the first and the finest, combining dance, magic, black light and spectacle.

16th January 2006

Gordon and Bunny Jay

We were saddened to hear that Gordon and Bunny Jay have decided to call it a day on performing in pantomime. They announced, from the stage, at the end of their highly successful run of Cinderella in Weston-super-Mare that this will be their last season. From all of us here at IBY we wish them well in the future.


They performed in 52 pantomimes. First at Salford Hippodrome in 1953 and their final panto on 8th January 2006 at the Playhouse Theatre, Weston Super-Mare for Paul Holman in "Cinderella". They will shortly be appearing at Weston in a one nighter variety show for Paul Holman.


For more details about this extraordinary comedy partnership, see their entry in our Double Acts section.


4th January 2006

New Years Honours!

Congratulations to all recipients but in particular to Bruce Forsyth (CBE), Roy Baraclough (MBE) and the three Beverley Sisters, Babs, Joy and Teddie (MBE).


Related story in The Stage


29th December 2005

Another Pantomime Romance

Following on from Jill's engagement story featured in our Newcastle Diary, we have received word from Hastings of another onstage proposal - this time with an audience!! Julian Chenery (of Shakespeare 4 Kidz) has sent us in a story featuring two of his cast members who are appearing at the White Rock Theatre in Aladdin - we'll leave the rest to him:-

Paul Parris (Caliban in S4K The Tempest; Porter in S4K Macbeth last year) and Filipa Jeronimo (Witch 2 and Lady Macduff last year in S4K Macbeth; and currently Lady Capulet in S4K Romeo and Juliet and Lady Macbeth in S4K Macbeth this year).

They are an item and are currently appearing together in Aladdin at the White Rock, Hastings, along with Ian Smith from Neighbours, Dean Gaffney ex East Enders and Spencer Smith from Big Brother. Paul is Aladdin and ´┐ŻPippa´┐Ż is Princess Yasmin.

At the end walk-down on the final Christmas Eve show, Ian Smith says ´┐ŻI think Aladdin wants to say something´┐Ż.

Aladdin steps forward and tells the audience ´┐Ż´┐Ż in the show I tell you all that I love Princess Yasmin so much I can cry it out from all the rooftops. Well, we´┐Żre together in real life too´┐Ż Cheers. A young kid is beckoned forward holding a tiny box. ´┐ŻAnd I want to say, Princess Yasmin, will you marry me?´┐Ż He goes down on bended knee with engagement ring in hand. Standing ovation and cheers from audience. Princess Yasmin ´┐Ż who says YES ´┐Ż in tears of joy.

Hoorah! What a great theatrical Christmas story. Have never heard of a proposal on stage in front of an audience before.

Congratulations from all of us here at IBY.

26th December 2005

BBC News 24


Pantomime Apprentice

A new scheme, funded by the Arts Council of Wales, to train pantomime directors in a bid to keep the traditions of pantomime alive, has being piloted this month (December 2005) at the Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre in Newport, South Wales.


David Lloyd-Jones is the first recipient of this innovative scheme.  David, an experienced performing arts lecturer and theatre director who trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, has developed the apprenticeship model in association with Arts Training Wales to cover all of the business and creative aspects of staging a pantomime.


He says, "I've always had a love of pantomime, and this apprenticeship is a great opportunity for would-be pantomime directors to gain practical experience in a professional environment."


The Riverfront's production of Dick Whittington, on from 6th December 2005 to 3rd January 2006, was chosen as the pilot production for the apprenticeship.  The Riverfront was identified as the ideal host for the scheme: a new and forward-looking venue, working for the first time with its chosen production company, Hiss & Boo.


Ian Liston of Hiss & Boo is delighted to be involved and recognises the need for a specific pantomime apprenticeship, adding "It's particularly important, if we are to preserve the traditions of pantomime, that the skills and craftsmanship are properly passed on to succeeding generations through the hands of experienced professionals."


David's experiences at the Riverfront will help to inform future initiatives to promote pantomime in the country, and ensure that one of our best-loved traditions will be passed down through many generations to come.


15th November 2005

A pantomime record?


It has been bought to our attention that The Patton Brothers (Brian and Jimmy) are just about to start their 50th year as a double act in Pantomime and, touch wood, have never missed a performance. They are appearing as Dame Trot (Jimmy) and King Crumble (Brian) in Llandudno this year and we wish them well on their 50th year and hope they continue to delight audiences for a long time to come.


Read more about the Patton Brothers in our Double Acts article.

11th November 2005

Newcastle Gets its Cinders!!

It may seem a little early for the Diary to be up and running but, after the press launch on the 13th July, the first entry of the season has been added.

The new Qdos production of Cinderella, written and directed by Michael Harrison, at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle-upon-Tyne for the 2005/6 season Jill Halfpenny (Eastenders and Strictly Come Dancing Winner), Nigel and Peter and the hilarious Clive Webb and Danny Adams. We are also happy to announce Sean Needham and Jody Crosier (joining us for the fourth year). The dates are the 10th December 2005 - 21st January 2006.

UPDATE - 11th November 2005

It has just been announced that the part of Cinderella has now been cast - the lucky recipient is 17 year old Lauren Hall. She impressed the panel so much and is now looking forward to joining Jill, Nigel, Peter, Clive, Danny, Sean and Jody in London for rehearsals in a couple of weeks. She is no stranger to the Theatre Royal Stage having made her professional debut there two years ago as Wendy in Peter Pan for Qdos. Read more about Lauren in the following news articles:-




24th October  2005

Phil Starr



Phil Starr the entertainer passed away today at his home in Brighton. Phil was one of the foremost "drag" cabaret entertainers in the country, and possessed the driest and wittiest sense of humour behind a totally deadpan face. Phil was a veteran pantomime Dame- in recent years he appeared at the Brick Lane Music Hall pantomimes for Vincent Hayes, working alongside Tommy Osbourne, and appearing in these pantomimes not as dame, but in the feminine guise of Dick Whittington's cat, or Goose.

The sight of Phil as Goose, towering over Tommy's dame dressed from head to toe in feather was enough to set the audience off on a roller-coaster of laughter that would last the entire evening and beyond. He would stare at the audience with his deadpan face, then with superb timing after holding a pause for longer than anyone would dare would blink and say "Quack!" - he could achieve more laughter with one word than many comics could in an evening.

The words you would most often hear from the audience in the bar afterwards were usually "He's only got to stand there, and I couldn't stop laughing!".. Phil however had honed his art and gained his superb comic timing from fifty years of constant entertaining- in theatres, pubs, bars and basically any where there was a gathering, Phil's warmth and talent came to the fore. He was essentially a Music Hall artiste.

As a regular visitor to Brick lane, I had a particular pleasure- one of Phil's routines involved a joke I had heard him perform many times before. I most enjoyed watching the audience as he came to the punch line..there would be the punch line.. there would be the pause while the audience digested it.. then the explosion- the joy of watching an audience helpless with laughter was the highlight of my evening.

Sadly Phil passed away just as he had begun a new venture- running his own hotel in Brighton. He was working up to the end, and his engagement book was full well into the end of next year- He will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him, and enjoyed his craft.



Phil Starr sadly died last week and bought to a close a truly remarkable life and a brilliant career as an entertainer. Phil was a brilliant comedian in a frock and with his timing and originality a true inspiration to all who knew him. His guiding light was his mother, who he described as having an acerbic working class wit often reducing him to tears of laughter. Phil inherited her wit and with his unique voice and stunning legs became a true legend in his own lifetime. Feted in Brighton, where he settled, he always remained humble and modest and was known for his gentleness and graciousness to others. He will be sadly missed but never forgotten.

Vincent Hayes

4th October  2005

It's That Time Again - Oh Yes It Is!!

Yes- it is that time again. Now is probably the busiest time for pantomimes all over the country- the box offices are starting to see a surge in bookings as the nights draw in, and those handbills which have loitered in the theatre´┐Żs foyers are now starting to be restocked on a daily basis.

I get e-mails from panto folk telling me they start rehearsing in six or eight weeks time, and in the world of pantomime the people who create the magic are working their fingers to the bone, and, as any self respecting Dame will tell you, that gives you bony fingers..

To date I´┐Żve spent the Summer months working out the script, which, thankfully is now finished. There it sits waiting to be bound as are so many other scripts around the country, before being sealed up into envelopes and sent to agents and artistes throughout the UK. The envelope will be torn open, and the script read in the following order- what scenes am I in.. do I get that number after all? How many changes? How many?? Hmm that´┐Żll be cut second day of rehearsal..and then, and only then will the entire script be read!

I´┐Żve had production meetings for the ´┐ŻDick Whittington´┐Ż wot I wrote, and sorted out the scenes- are there enough flying bars? Can we have the trap open at this point? Is it possible to do a rat ballet in a frontcloth?..But I´┐Żm not alone. In every theatre similar meetings have gone on, and fine tuning has already begun..

For my sins, I also costume the panto- after nearly thirty years I should be used to it by now, but no- it always seems bigger than last year. Why did I decide I simply HAD to have a Blue and Gold finale this year when I know I have nothing blue and gold in stock? Ah.. because we haven´┐Żt had one that colour before. Do I really need ´┐ŻUnder the Sea´┐Ż to look like Las Vagas? I mean, who wears feathers beneath the briny sea? The chorus does of course..acres of ´┐Żem.. The same goes for tap dancing Beefeaters..it would be so much cheaper if they did a soft shoe shuffle wouldn´┐Żt it? The price of tap shoes being what they are times twelve..

As I trawl up and down Berwick street fighting off other costumiers for the last scrap of brocade I think of the vast army of highly skilled makers throughout this land. They´┐Żve been ploughing yards of material under their sewing machines while the rest of the country were sunbathing- My ´┐ŻDick Whittington´┐Ż is not destined for the Palladium, but it still uses the talents of five different costume makers, a prop maker and several outside companies who specialise, as well as the firms that supply fabric, foam, trimmings and footwear-

Yes, Pantomime is not just for Christmas, it is for life! The industry uses the talents of thousands of skilled professionals behind the scenes, as well as the artistes who actually tread those boards- boards which incidentally have to be painted and lit, swept and maintained. Our magical world isn´┐Żt created over night, and  all praise be to those people who, as I write this, are engaged in bringing some of that magic to a theatre near you very soon! God bless all those who are block booking, stitching, scribbling and  marketing, along with those painting, lighting and performing! God Bless us one and all!

13th August  2005

Jack Tripp Memorial Service



A memorial service to celebrate the life of Jack Tripp will take place

at 12 Noon on Friday 28th October 2005 at St Paul's Actors Church, Covent Garden.


13th August  2005


Variety Bandbox Two - Music Hall Meets Variety - 10th August 2005


A review and some pictures.



10th August 2005


Betty Astell 1912-2005

BETTY ASTELL died on July 27th aged 93, seven months after the death of her husband Cyril Fletcher.

Betty Astell was known as one of the finest principal girls in pantomime, and appeared in many pantomimes alongside her pantomime dame husband Cyril in shows that they produced together, and in pantomimes that she had written.

Betty was responsible for modernising and adapting pantomime scripts, in particular ´┐ŻMother Goose´┐Ż, ´┐ŻSleeping Beauty´┐Ż and ´┐ŻThe Queen Of Hearts´┐Ż in which Cyril played the Dame roles. Later, as a very glamorous Principal Boy Betty would star along side Cyril throughout the 1950´┐Żs and 1960´┐Żs, with Betty retiring from the stage in the early 1970´┐Żs, although she continued to write pantomime scripts with great skill.

Betty´┐Żs early career was in television, from it´┐Żs infancy. She was one of the first artistes to appear on the BBC, and played ´┐ŻAlice Fitzwarren´┐Ż in the BBC pantomime ´┐ŻDick Whittington´┐Ż in 1932 (pictured left with Ann Maitland and Fred Douglas). Her career continued in film and and television, with  tours in reviews and variety in addition to her radio appearances with Cyril. In many cases Betty provided the scripts for radio and television appearances as well as the film ´┐ŻA Piece Of Cake´┐Ż that she appeared in with Cyril in 1948.

During the 1950´┐Żs she appeared with Cyril in his television shows, and toured during the year whilst writing and producing their highly successful pantomimes and Summer shows. Betty was responsible for ensuring costumes and scenery were always  fresh and bright, and that the scripts were kept up to the minute whilst retaining their strong story lines.

In the 1970´┐Żs She and Cyril sold the sets and costumes of their ´┐ŻSleeping Beauty´┐Ż and ´┐ŻMother Goose´┐Ż productions to the newly opened Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford, and for several years these provided the basis of the early pantomimes there- indeed to this day a large number of Betty´┐Żs costumes are still in the theatre´┐Żs wardrobe store, in regular use, and in excellent condition thanks to her  attention to detail and expertise.

Cyril and Betty moved to Jersey in the 1980´┐Żs, with Cyril continuing with his television career and indulging in his great love of gardening. Their daughter, the comedienne Jill Fletcher continues to uphold the traditions of her parents, and is a regular performer in pantomime and Music Hall.

10th August 2005

Summer Pantomime in Great Yarmouth

Danny Hanton and Gavin Dean present Aladdin in Great Yarmouth every Friday night until the 5th September! This is the third year they have presented pantomime in the summer season and the tourists seem to love it.

11th July 2005

The Theatrical Summer Fayre - Sunday 10th July 2005

After receiving the very sad news that Jack Tripp had passed away this morning, it was very heart warming to attend the Summer Fayre in the churchyard of St.Paul´┐Żs Covent Garden, and meet up with so many people that shared very happy memories of working with Jack in pantomime.

The event raises money for the Royal Theatrical Fund, which helps members of the profession who may have difficulties, and  looks after those who have retired from the business and may be in need of assistance. There were stalls run by the Grand Order of Water Rats (presided over by Keith Simmons) , and the Lady Ratlings (presided over by Doreen Hermitage) as well as stalls from the Musicians Benevolent fund and other organisations connected to the world of showbusiness.

A beautifully sunny day, the churchyard and the church itself  was packed- people could enter competitions, play a few fairground games (no thrill rides here- ´┐ŻHook a duck´┐Ż from a paddling pool  was the nearest you´┐Żd get to Alton Towers) and buy theatrical books and programmes, all the while being entertained by The Scola eighteen piece band.

The cast of ´┐ŻThe Last of the Summer Wine´┐Ż were signing autographs for charity, along with many other stawarts of pantomime-along with  the very glamorous Kate O´┐ŻMara, who has appeared in many pantomimes as the villainess Wicked Queen- it was lovely to run into Peter Baldwin again- Peter was our Baron when we played Nottingham Theatre Royal, and  presides over his shop ´┐ŻPollocks´┐Ż in Covent Garden from time to time, when he isn´┐Żt writing books about his passion- Victorian Toy Theatres.

Had a chat with Keith Simmons (this year at the Hawth, Crawley with his son, Ben as ´┐ŻSimmons & Simmons´┐Ż) Andrew Lynford (Panto at the Spa Bridlington, where he is also directing) Keith ´┐ŻAppy´┐Ż Hopkins (Telford) and Simon Bashford (Croydon) along with Andrew Ryan (Sheffield) and Isobel Hurll (Ilford- giving her Queen Rat!). At one point there were six dames chatting in a circle, and we tried to think of the collective title.. A gaggle of Dames? A Clutch of Dames? Any suggestions- let us know on the message board!

 It was a lovely afternoon, and hopefully it raised some well needed funds for the charity. We were even treated to a fly past of spitfires and lancasters overhead as we left- not in honour of the fayre of course, but heading towards Buckingham palace for the Victory celebrations  presided over by Her Majesty and, of course ´┐ŻOur Vera´┐Ż, a  true dame of the British Empire- Vera Lynn!

8th June 2006

Panto at the Zoo!

A fantastic new joint initiative between Europe Events Ltd in association with London Zoo and The Hiss & Boo Company present

Dick Whittington and his magical cat!

The story so far.........London Zoo in Regents Park and European Events Ltd always erect a big 'hospitality structure' in the Zoo itself each year in early November and it's used for company hospitality / corporates etc until mid December when that business slackens off as Christmas approaches. So it was suggested, and agreed, that as this large structure is there with all the things that go to make it work (generators, lighting, dressing rooms, bar, loos, seats, etc) why not build a 'Pollocks' type theatre stage in the structure and do panto in there daily for about two weeks. And so Panto at the Zoo was born and in conjunction with the Hiss & Boo Company, it was agreed to test the water this year and see how it goes. There will be three performances per day of Dick Whittington at 12 Noon / 3p.m. and 6 p.m. but they only last about 85 minutes + interval i.e well under two hours. The deal is buy a ticket for the panto and get admission to the Zoo - and vice versa (except 6 p.m. shows which are panto only and slightly cheaper). Tickets from ´┐Ż17.50 adults / ´┐Ż14.50 children with ´┐Ż57 for a family ticket for 4. Ian Adams is writing the script, directing (with Vivienne McMaster as Choreographer) and he will also play Sarah the Cook. There will be further casting in September and we hope to announce some exciting news nearer the time.

You can find out more details, and the full schedule of shows from the 23rd December 2005 until the 8th January 2006 on the special website www.pantoatthezoo.co.uk. Further details about the Hiss & Boo Company can be found on their website www.hissboo.co.uk

30th April 2005

Brick Lane Music Hall - Danny La Rue

A Visit to Vincent Hayes´┐Żs ´┐ŻBrick Lane Music Hall´┐Ż in Silvertown to see a Music Hall starring Danny La Rue. Quite a turn out of pantomime folk to support Danny and the wonderful venue that Vincent has created- the only Music Hall in existence, one that provides a great atmosphere, a superb three course meal and, of course, two and a half hours of entertainment!

Danny was in fine form, interspersing his music hall songs with anecdotes about his life and career, doing a spot in each half, and closing the show. Joining Danny on the bill were Andrew Robley and Judith Hibbert, firm favourites here at the Brick lane, along with Vincent compering and the students from the Doreen Bird academy providing the terpsichory!

As one would expect with Danny on the bill, the place was packed, and the Panto folk included the ´┐ŻRats´┐Ż table (Members of the Grand Order of Water Rats & Lady Ratlings) including Keith Simmons and his wife, Fran, Bryan Burdon, and Queen Rat herself, Val Fontaine. Keith tells me he will be appearing in panto this year with his son, Ben as ´┐ŻSimmons and Simmons´┐Ż as Captain and Mate, which he will be directing. Venue to be announced shortly!

I noticed on the wall an original poster for a touring show starring Albert Burdon, Bryan Burdon´┐Żs father- both father and son having appeared in countless pantomimes over the years.

On another table we had the ´┐ŻPlayers´┐Ż contingent- this table included Norma Dunbar, Loraine Hart and our mate Jan Hunt. Jan appeared many times with Peter and I in pantomime as Prince Charming, and as Fairy Godmother- she currently produces and appears in her own Music Hall shows around the country, most recently with Ray Allan & Lord Charles, and Simmons and Simmons.

Lovely to see both Richard Frost (Who directs pantomimes each year) and Graham Richards. Both Graham and Jan were frequent performers at both the Player´┐Żs Theatre and BBC´┐Żs ´┐ŻGood Old Days´┐Ż. Graham has played both ´┐ŻSister´┐Ż and ´┐ŻDame´┐Ż in pantomimes over the years. A fellow Panto Dame was Roger Bremble, who appeared at Brick Lane´┐Żs panto last year as Mother Goose, and Andrew Ryan, who has specialised in Dame for the past fifteen years. Andrew is about to tour with three plays over the next few months.

They were joined by Isobel Hurll- stalwart of the Kenneth More Theatre´┐Żs pantomimes each year- a remarkably versatile lady who swops Villainess and Fairy from year to year, along with Lynsey Dolan, director and choreographer and Tim Goodchild the costume and scenic designer. Sitting opposite were Simon Masterton-Smith, often seen in both Opera and Pantomime, and Gaynor Martine, along with Lynda Baron who has both appeared in and directed pantomimes in a career that has truly been ´┐ŻOpen all Hours´┐Ż!

A great night out, and a wonderful opportunity to meet up with some great panto mates!


8th March 2005

Pantomime Diary 2005/6!!

Announcing the release of the Full Pantomime Diary for 2005/6 - more details to be added as we get them.

25th February 2005

Peter Foy

From www.playbill.com

Peter Foy, whose company Flying By Foy has sent stage Peter Pans from Mary Martin to Cathy Rigby soaring toward the rafters, died Feb. 17 in Las Vegas, Nevada, of natural causes. He was 79.

Mr. Foy, who was born in England, first sailed to New York to stage the flying sequences of the 1950 Broadway production of the musical Peter Pan, which starred Jean Arthur as the magical boy who refuses to grow up. Little did the young technician and sometime actor know at the time that the musical would become a perennial favorite and his most famous and steady client over the next half century.

Mr. Foy would return to the U.S. in 1954 to see that when Mary Martin sang "I'm Flying," she was in earnest. The Martin version would be telecast live on NBC in 1955. He would in 1956 stage the flying sequences of the first outdoor Peter Pan in Kansas City, and return to Broadway in 1979 to see that Sandy Duncan safely left the ground, and in 1990 and 1991 to help Cathy Rigby achieve take-off. He was also drafted for the Peter Pan segment in 1990's Jerome Robbins' Broadway.

At the time of the Jean Arthur Peter Pan, there was no Flying by Foy (he formed the company in the late fifties), so Peter Foy used the equipment provided by his then-employer, the British company Kirby's Flying Ballets. According to Flying by Foy's website, little theatrical flying had been attempted on the American stage for more than two decades preceding his arrival.

Throughout the years, Mr. Foy invented new systems as he needed them in order to improve the state of stage flying. Mary Martin benefitted from the "Inter-Related Pendulum," which "made spectacular highly controlled free flight possible." The system, however, needed a 40-foot ceiling to function, so, in 1958, Mr. Foy created the "Floating Pulley" for low-height houses. The "Track on Track" system followed in 1962, which allowed two operators to independently control the lift and movement of an actor.

Later on, he invented the "Multi-Point Balance Harness" for the 1965 film "The Fantastic Voyage." In 1990, the Health and Safety Codes Commission of the United States Institute of Theatre Technology presented Mr. Foy with an International Entertainment Safety Award.

Other Broadway credits include Raggety Ann, Fool Moon, The Who's Tommy, The Red Shoes, The Lion King, Blast! and the recent Dracula.

Peter Foy knew how the actors attached to his flying systems felt. Bit early by the acting bug, at age 15 he flew "on a slim steel wire" while playing a Sea Witch in a production of Where The Rainbow Ends. When the show's stage manager was hospitalized, he also assumed those duties, supervising the Kirby's Flying Machines he would later employ in Peter Pan.

He joined the Royal Air Force in 1942 as a Navigator and Entertainment Officer. After the war, he went to work for Joseph Kirby himself-the man who would send him to Broadway in 1950 to oversee Jean Arthur's airborne moments.

In the mid-sixties, Peter Foy traveled to Las Vegas to work on a show called The Lido. He liked what he saw. "He fell in love with the place," said colleague Jim Hansen in a 2002 interview, "primarily because it was lousy with sunlight. He came from England which he found very dreary. To this day when it is raining he gets very depressed. He likes the sun. He likes the openness."

Flying by Foy effects will be featured in two upcoming Broadway shows: Spamalot and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Peter Foy is survived by his wife, Barbara Foy; son Garry S. Foy, daughter Teresa Foy McGeough, and two grandchildren: Daniel and James McGeough.

From www.thestage.co.uk

Peter Foy, the founder of Flying By Foy who revolutionised stage flying with his work on the original Broadway production of the musical Peter Pan in 1954, died on February 17 in Las Vegas, Nevada, of natural causes, aged 79.

Foy was born on June 11, 1925 in London. As a child he was fascinated by James M Barrie´┐Żs Peter Pan, a story and character that would profoundly alter the course of his life. At the age of 15, Foy first flew on a slim steel wire in a production of Where the Rainbow Ends, in which he played the character of the Sea Witch. When the show´┐Żs stage manager was hospitalised, he also assumed his duties, which included the supervision of Kirby´┐Żs Flying Machines and the flying actors. He continued to act on stage and in film, joining the Royal Air Force in 1942 as a navigator and entertainment officer.

After the war and the completion of his military service, he went to work for Joseph Kirby, a move that eventually took Foy to New York as the flying supervisor for a 1950 Broadway production of Peter Pan, starring Jean Arthur and Boris Karloff. He began to experiment with and refine the Kirby equipment, redesigning the Compound Drum and eventually linking two of the systems together at a single suspension point, which he called the Inter-Related Pendulum. This innovation made possible the soaring aerial choreography that helped define Mary Martin´┐Żs signature performance as Peter Pan for the 1954 Broadway musical and for the live NBC telecast of the show in 1956.

Foy left Kirby to form his own company, Flying By Foy, in 1957. The creation of the Inter-Related Pendulum ushered in an era of spectacular, highly controlled, free flight, but required operators with a high degree of skill and a minimum 40ft of ceiling height in order to create a natural-looking, effective pendulum swing. Foy solved the problem of flying actors in low height situations with the invention of the Floating Pulley in 1958. While this development was highly effective, the device was often visible to the audience.

His determination to preserve the magic of theatrical flight by concealing its apparatus from the audience´┐Żs view led to his introduction of the patented Track on Track´┐Ż system in 1962, which allows two operators to independently control lift and travel. Since that time, Foy has improved upon the basic concept of Track on Track´┐Ż, most notably with the patented Inter-Reacting Compensator´┐Ż system, developed for touring productions of the Ice Capades.

Throughout his lifetime Foy applied his mechanical ingenuity to the challenge of safely flying performers in a variety of circumstances. His creation of the Multi-Point Balance Harness for the 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage set a standard still used today for flying actors on film, he pioneered the use of self-contained truss systems for touring shows and also introduced the first self-contained radio controlled flying system at the Flower Expo in Osaka, Japan, in 1990.

Over the past half-century, he revolutionised methods and techniques used in stage flying that had remained virtually unchanged for 2,000 years. The Health and Safety Codes Commission of the United States Institute of Theatre Technology presented him the International Entertainment Safety Award in 1990.

Flying By Foy has provided theatrical flying effects for thousands of stage productions, musicals, operas, ballets, rock concerts, film and television shows worldwide. The company has flown three Broadway productions of Peter Pan - in 1954, 1979 and 1990 - and originated the flying for Superman, Angels in America, Tommy, Aida and The Lion King, among others.

Foy flew Nadia Comaneci from the NASDAQ Building 170 over Times Square for the 2004 Olympic torch relay in New York and created flying effects for the opening ceremonies at the Olympic Games in Athens. Recent Broadway projects include Man of LaMancha and Dracula - the Musical. Foy flying effects are also featured in two upcoming Broadway shows - Spamalot, the stage musical adaptation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara, son Garry S Foy, daughter Teresa Foy McGeough and two grandchildren, Daniel and James.



3rd February 2005

Brian and Alvin fly into West End!

Slightly off-topic, but two pantomime stalwarts will be joining the cast of the long running West End hit Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Brian Conley and Alvin Stardust, fresh from pantomimes in Plymouth and Hull, will take over the roles of Caractacus Potts and The Childcatcher respectively in March.

A Pantomime Social! Brick Lane & More - Saturday January 29th 2005

A day of meeting up with many Panto People- a sort of ´┐ŻFunny Thing Happened on the way to the Panto Day´┐Ż! Met up with Jan Hunt, fabulous Principal Boy and Fairy at the Kenneth More Theatre this morning. Jan was over to look at some costumes to use in a Variety/Music Hall show she´┐Żs putting on in Croydon next Thursday (tickets still available- and a great Bill including Ray Allan & Lord Charles). It was great to have a chat with Jan about all those panto´┐Żs we´┐Żve done together over the years, and indeed for Jan to meet up again with Jo Young who helps run the busy Kenneth More Wardrobe. Jo worked in BBC make-up for many years, and looked after Jan in ´┐ŻCrackerjack´┐Ż- along with Ed (Stewpot) Stewart and Don McLean.

Jan was joined by Ian Adams (Panto Dame/Director) fresh from his panto at the Millfield Theatre- Ian and his song-and-dance partner Vivienne McMaster will be in Thursday´┐Żs show with Jan. Vivienne was Principal Girl and later Principal boy here at the Kenneth More Theatre in ´┐ŻSleeping Beauty´┐Ż and ´┐ŻCinderella´┐Ż a few years back.

No sooner had Jan & Ian left than Andrew Ryan (fresh from Bournemouth Panto) and I met up with Christopher Marlowe. Chris was at the Kenneth More to see the panto wot I wrote ´┐ŻSnow White´┐Ż for the matinee. Chris was Prince to Vivienne´┐Żs Sleeping Beauty, and has played Sister here, as well as Dame in various parts of the country. No panto for him this year though, he was busy playing President Roosevelt in ´┐ŻAnnie´┐Ż with Su Pollard at Ashton-Under-Lyne.

Within minutes of leaving Chris we headed off for the Brick Lane Music Hall for ´┐ŻMother Goosed!´┐Ż- A ´┐ŻPanto for Grown Ups´┐Ż.

The new Brick Lane theatre is in Silvertown, near to City Airport in the London Docklands. A converted church, it is a masterpiece, and a perfect venue for Supper Theatre- Run by Vincent Hayes who also stars in the Panto, we met up with more Panto Pals for a great East End Night out.

Among the many ´┐ŻPro´┐Żs´┐Ż in the audience were Isobel Hurll ´┐Ż one of the best Villains to be found in panto- a superb Queen Rat.. and, in fact the ACTUAL current Queen Rat, Val Fontayne. Val is this year´┐Żs Queen of the Grand Order Of Lady Ratlings Association. She attended with Alan Simmons (One half of the Simmons Brothers) and his wife Julie Burnett, who has just finished her panto ´┐ŻAladdin´┐Ż at Southsea. They were joined by veteran Panto performer Bryan Burdon, and Johhny Dallas- a Dame of the British Empire, and a successful Theatrical Agent. Johhny has retired from Panto, but was there to give his support to Vincent Hayes and his company.

Joining Isobel Hurll were Gaynor Martine and Simon Masterson-Smith, along with Lynda Barron- a lady who has always seemed to work ´┐ŻAll Hours´┐Ż- excuse the pun, at appearing in and directing pantomimes  all over the country. Lynda, incidentally appearered with my stage partner, Peter Robbins in ´┐ŻCinderella´┐Ż at Crewe many years ago, and they both still have fond memories of that show.

The panto ´┐ŻMother Goosed´┐Ż was great fun. It follows a huge three course meal, and starts at 9pm. The title role was played by Roger Bremble, resplendent in his many costume changes, and Vincent Hayes as Mother Goose´┐Żs son, Billy. In true panto tradition his brother ´┐ŻArthur´┐Ż was played by Rebecca Marks in thigh boots and a short tunic, with the Principal Girl played by Alexa Massey.

The Immortals were the Music Hall stalwarts, Annabelle Lee as Fairy and Colin McLaughlan as the wicked Demon and Squire. A special mention to the wonderful physicality of Adam Coleman as Goose- even though his face was hidden, he conveyed every emotion through his movement. The dancers were from the Doreen Bird academy- quite appropriate when you think of the Show´┐Żs Subject!

A great night out- and this adult panto runs until March 5th at the Brick Lane Music Hall. Hurry along, you´┐Żll have a great time! Incidentally the DLR reaches Brick Lane very soon. In fact TWO DLR´┐Żs- One is the Docklands Light Railway, which will whisk you from London  to Silvertown in a trice, and the other DLR? The Legendary Danny La Rue, due to make a return visit in his Music Hall ´┐ŻPack Up Your Troubles´┐Ż in April of this year! Long live this wonderful venue, and thanks Vincent for a great Night Out!


13th January 2005

A New Producer in Pantoland.

from Thursday 13th January 2005

Regional theatre's two largest players, Clear Channel Entertainment and the Ambassador Theatre Group, have formed a pantomime productions company that threatens Qdos' dominance of the seasonal entertainment market.

First Family Entertainment, headed by CCE Europe chief executive David Ian and ATG managing director Howard Panter, will initially produce nine pantomimes in the Christmas 2005/6 season. Producer Kevin Wood has been made chief executive.

Already performers and directors not normally associated with pantomime - and of the calibre of Ian McKellen, who appeared in the Old Vic's seasonal show this year - are being linked with the project. The first names are expected to be announced in the next week.

Said Panter: 'Of course it is different to David Ian producing Ewan McGregor in Guys and Dolls but on another level it isn't because that is the level we are working at. We are going to keep up the standards of what we believe are the best productions in London - Guys and Dolls, The Producers.

'I genuinly hope that we will continue to have a good and harmonious relationship with Qdos. We have no intention of criticising anything they do, We just believe we can run pantomimes in a way that suits our markets in the same way we produce our own plays and musicals for our own market.'

Despite Panter's insistence of good intentions, Qdos chief executive Nick Thomas issued a muted response to the announcement. Five of the theatres committed to staging a First Family Entertainment pantomime next year - Manchester Opera House, Milton Keynes Theatre, Woking New Victoria, Brighton Theatre Royal and New Wimbledon Theatre - are hosting a Qdos show this year, accounting for around a fifth of the production giant's output of pantomimes in the 2004/5 season.

Thomas said he had been aware for some time that Qdos' pantomime contract with ATG was not to be renewed and added that both ATG and CCE had mad bids to acquire his company in April last year. He turned them down.

'Neither I nor my team are 'corporate employee' material so we have no desire to work for Howard Panter or David Ian. Subsequently, ATG tried to entice some of our team to create a rival pantomime, without success,' said Thomas.

'We were formally told [about the new company] by fax late on Friday afternoon, in the midst of our sixth and most successful pantomime seasons in ATG's venues. Prior to receiving the fax, we were unaware of CCE's involvement but in any event, we have contracts for the 2005 Manchester and Bristol pantomimes, which David Ian has confirmed will be honoured.'

He added: '2005 marks my 25th year controlling an independent owner-managed business, during which time I have seen many corporate collaborations come and go. We have outlasted them all. I believe independent theatres will continue to support quality independent producers.

'What we do and the way we do it will prevail, as it has for more than 400 pantomimes.'   

31st December 2004

Tsunami Earthquake Appeal - Panto Companies Fundraising

TSUNAMI EARTHQUAKE APPEAL SHOWS - A diary of pantomime companies fundraising efforts

2nd October 2004

New Book on Pantomime!

We here at IBY are very excited about a new book which features the Sisters as Cover Girls! Published by New Holland Publishers on the 1st November 2004, this book by Peter Lathan uses many of great pictures from the IBY Picture Archive. Here's what Amazon has to say about the contents!

Dating back to the middle ages, British pantomime has absorbed the traditions of Commedia dell'Arte, Harlequinades, Music Hall and slapstick to produce a unique theatrical tradition. Supported by Iavish archive and contemporary photographs, writer Peter Lathan explores the history and development of panto, discovering where panto gags come from, who is considered to be the greatest Dame of all time and why is it that a girl always plays a boy falling in love with a girl whose mother is a man! All our favourite stories are included - from Cinderella and Aladdin to Jack and Beanstalk and Sleeping Beauty - in this ultimate celebration of Britain's unique love affair with panto. Foreword by John Inman.


You can pre-order/buy this from Amazon by clicking on the link below - they are, of course, not the only suppliers.


"It's Behind You! The Story of Panto" by Peter Lathan. (2004)


29th December 2004

Q&A with Dame Ian McKellen!


Q&A event on Tuesday 18th January 2005 at 5pm at The Old Vic

Find out more about what motivates a knighted thespian to take on a cross-dressing role, when Sir Ian McKellen fields audience questions at a special Question and Answer event from 5pm at The Old Vic theatre.  Better known for his performance as 'Gandalf' in "The Lord of the Rings", McKellen is swopping his cloak and staff for a frock and wig to play 'Widow Twanky' in The Old Vic´┐Żs production of ´┐ŻAladdin´┐Ż from 17 December ´┐Ż 23 January.  Ian will be joined on-stage by veteran comedian Maureen Lipman (playing his sidekick, 'Dim Sum') and TV name Sam Kelly (playing the 'Emperor'). Tickets for the Q&A are ´┐Ż5 each and can be booked on 0870 060 6628. The event is hosted by the Daily Telegraph.

5th January 2005 Updated

A Grand Way to Boost Funds!

by Jeremy Miles

Originally published in the Daily Echo, Bournemouth - 4th January 2005

(From L to R) Darren Bennet (Anton), Chris Hayward (Mrs Potty), Matthew Rixon (Beast / Prince) Cassidy Janson (Beauty), Sandra Dickenson (special guest), Mark Osmond (Simple Simon), Louise Plowright (Evil Sorceress) - all appearing in Poole.

IT was 9.45am - an hour when most stage performers haven't even got around to thinking about their cornflakes - yet backstage the Bournemouth Pavilion was buzzing.

Actors, dancers and singers were getting ready for the first leg of Panto Relief - a two-show charity extravaganza designed to raise desperately-needed funds for victims of the disaster in south east Asia.

Cast members of the Bournemouth, Poole and Southampton Christmas shows got ready for a last-minute pep talk and ran through a quick routine or two.

Meanwhile, with crowds queuing round the block for tickets, Bournemouth Mayor Cllr Emily Morrell-Cross had popped in to thank people for their efforts and offer moral support. She was also ready to do her bit in the foyer with a cash bucket.

"This is really unofficial business," she said, "but just in case..." She opened her handbag and pulled out her Mayoral badge.

A few minutes later I found myself sitting in a dressing room grabbing a few words with the man who masterminded the whole fund-raising project - legendary children's entertainer Brian Cant.

The usual tenant of the dressing room - tough guy TV cop DI Frank Burnside, alias actor Chris Ellison - was happily stripping off in a corner and about to clamber into his panto tights when a tannoy rang out.

"Photocall in the Ballroom. Don't worry about what you're wearing, come as you are."

We looked at Chris, Chris looked at his near-naked form.

"Better put your tights on," I said. He nodded. "Yeah, I think that might be wise." It could only happen in pantoland.

But so too could the magical fund-raising effort that brought the casts of three different professional shows together at a moment's notice and, by noon yesterday, had already produced sparkling entertainment and raised an estimated ´┐Ż20,000.

After the second show at Poole last night the total was looking to be more than ´┐Ż25,000.

For exact figures, of course, we will have to wait, but fund-raisers are confident that the effort, which has raised money for the British Red Cross Appeal, will fill planes with food, water and medical supplies for those left injured, homeless and destitute by the Boxing Day tsunamis.

For many cast members of Jack and the Beanstalk at the Bournemouth Pavilion, Beauty and the Beast at Lighthouse in Poole and Peter Pan at Southampton Mayflower, the disaster hit beaches and countries they know - places where they have spent holidays.

For Chris Ellison the news took a painfully personal turn when it was revealed that his long-time friend and colleague in TV soap The Bill, actor Eric Richard, had lost his two-month-old grandson to the huge waves that smashed into the Sri Lankan coastline.

The child was swept away while his parents, Eric's son Richard and his partner Dierdre, were both injured.

"It's just terrible," said Chris. "I haven't spoken to Eric yet but it really brings it home to you. I think an awful lot of people will know others who have lost someone or been affected by this disaster."

CBeebies presenter Chris Jarvis, who stars as Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk and also wrote and directed the show, told me: "At a time like this it inevitably runs through your mind that dressing up in silly clothes and acting daft is a rather superficial way to earn a living but by doing this we are able to use our skills to do something positive."

It was Brian Cant, the veteran Playaway and Playschool presenter, who is appearing in Beauty and the Beast at Poole, who dreamt up the idea of staging yesterday's shows - one at 10.30am in Bournemouth, the other at 10.30pm in Poole.

"We were all going out for a meal and originally I thought we should just give the money to the disaster fund instead, then I suddenly thought `Come on Brian, we can do much better than that'. That was how the idea for these shows was born."

2nd January 2005

Cyril Fletcher

CYRIL FLETCHER, master of the "Odd Ode" has died today aged 91. Along with his wife Betty Astell he presented and starred in pantomimes as Dame for many years- among his most popular were "Mother Goose" and "The Sleeping Beauty". In his later years Cyril was guest presenter on Esther Rantzen's "That's Life" programme and, a keen gardener he presented television gardening programmes from his home on the Channel Islands.

Picture taken from the front cover of 'I Scream for Ice Cream' by Gyles Brandreth

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4141367.stm - News Item

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/1916830.stm - Obituary

31st December 2004

Dame for a Laugh!

A lovely article from the Stage about Kenneth Alan Taylor by Phil Penfold


27th December 2004

Get Well Soon!!

Illness is really sweeping across pantoland - news reaches us that Lily Savage is currently off with a chest infection as the Wicked Queen in London - the part is being played by Fogwell Flax (who normally plays Muddles) and Muddles is being played by Paul Hemming.

Lily is added to an ever growing list - John Inman, Jeanette Krankie, Lizzie Wiggins and Letitia Dean! Thankfully Letitia and John are set to return soon but Lizzie and Jeanette will be missing from panto for the rest of the season - we send them our best for a speedy recovery!

Perhaps someone should get sponsorship from Sanatogen, Berocca and Echinacea for next year!!

6th December 2004


The programme has finished this evening and congratulations to Joe Pasquale who has been crowned King of the Jungle! He now has to come back to start rehearsals for his role as Jack at the Birmingham Hippodrome from the 21st December 2004!

4th December 2004 Updated 26th December 2004

Welcome to The PANTOMIME Weakest Link!

Just prior to setting out on their journeys to the far corners of Pantoland, 9 Pantomime Celebrities gathered in London to record a special 'Weakest Link' with the Queen of Mean herself - Anne Robinson! You can see what happened when the programme is broadcast sometime between Christmas and New Year - watch this pantomime special to see whether the Fairytale characters had a Grimm time with the Queen of Mean. Did the team ditch a Dame, Push a Prince or Harass a Hook? Which of these Panto Pals made it as the Strongest Links and who were exiled to the walk of Shame?

Taking part in this extravaganza were Alvin Stardust (Abanazar/Hull); Shane Lynch (Prince/High Wycombe); Lucy Benjamin (Aladdin/Stevenage); Peter Duncan ( Captain Hook/Truro); Britt Ekland (Slave of the Ring/Guildford); Joe Pasquale (Jack/Birmingham Hippodrome); Nigel Ellacott (Ugly Sister/Plymouth); Ruth Madoc (Wicked Queen/Sheffield) and Helen Noble (Princess/Opera House Manchester).

We have been promised a picture for the website of the 'cast' with Ms Robinson and will post as soon as we receive it! Nigel has of course been sworn to secrecy about who won and where he was placed - you'll just have to watch to find out!

Updated - We have received notice from the BBC that this will be transmitted on Christmas Eve at 5.50pm on BBC1.

Result Update! For those of you who missed the programme - Nigel came third behind Lucy (1st) and Joe (2nd for once!), he was robbed!!

15th November 2004 Updated 17th December 2004

Big Brother: The Panto!

Rumours have reached us here at IBY that there are plans afoot for a pantomime to be broadcast on Channel 4 on Christmas Day starring Big Brother contestants. For Cinderella, Channel 4's first pantomime, they are rumoured to have already signed up Jade Goody, Victor Ebuwa, Michelle Bass, Stuart Wilson, Nick Bateman, Helen Adams and Narinder Kaur.

Watch this space for more information!


Both Heat Magazine and The Guardian (!!!!) have carried full details of the story now - the format rules out Michelle Bass as she will be appearing in St Albans at the same time it is being filmed.

This is the full article from The Guardian


BB Panto

Yes, there really is only a month and a half to go until Christmas. But don't worry, there's lots to look forwards to. Like the Big Brother Panto´┐Ż


The panto season is almost upon us and as theatres across the land prepare to raise the curtain on this year´┐Żs performances, E4 is also bracing itself for a rousing chorus of ´┐Żhe´┐Żs behind you!´┐Ż as it prepares for the first ever Big Brother panto.

The ex Big Brother housemates, including Jade, Victor and Narinder will star in a modern day adaptation of Cinderella live on E4. However, they will not just have their lines to learn and rehearse ´┐Ż they must write, cast, produce and perform in their version. The ten will live in a specially designed apartment in the run up to the performance and a nightly E4 show will see them prepare for this very special task. (There will be no streaming).

They will receive professional coaching every day on everything from choreography to stage presence but it will be down to the housemates to pull the show together and give it their all when they perform the final version live on E4 on Wednesday 5th January. Firstly they must decide who plays each role. Will Jade and Narinda battle it out to land the leading role as Cinders? Will Victor be crowned as the dashing Prince Charming or end up playing an Ugly Sister?

The ex housemates will move into Endemol´┐Żs Bristol Studios on 20th December. They will live together for 24 hours a day. The pantomime will be performed live on E4 on Wednesday 5th January.

Posted by Richard Vine


We can now reveal the full cast - Jade, Victor, Narinder, Kitten, Nick (Nasty!), Tim, Marco, Anouska, Alex and Mel!

They will 'star' in a modern-day adaptation of Cinderella which will be shown live on January 5th 2005 on E4. The housemates will stay in the Big Brother Lodge (a house in Bristol) in the build-up to the big event which will start being shown on E4 on the 20th December 2004 (aparantly being repeated on Channel 4 the next day!). The pantomime itself is being written by Jonathan Harvery but the 'actors' will plan the entire performance, rehearse and choreograph all their own moves, as well as spending 24 hours a day with each other over the festive period!



15th November 2004

Jack Cannot - New Information!

We received a message from Jack Cannot's granddaughter who found our site on a search of Google!

Jack Valentine Cannot was my grandfather. I have in my possession on behalf of the family a scrapbook album of his career with JC Williamsons in Australia and a CD which we have recently had made from Screensound Australia of the 4 recordings put to disk in the 1920s. I believe there was a 5th recording made but I have never seen copy of this. I have the original 78 recordings.

I would like to make contact with anyone who may have any information.

Heather Douglas vdouglas@pcug.org.au

For those unfamiliar with the tale of Jack Cannot, check out our article by following the link

1st November 2004 Updated 29th November 2004

Bring On Those Wonderful Dames!

Every year these gallant guys parade in a non stop spectacle of costumes, wigs and  paraphernalia. They slap on the make-up, don the tights and  become Jack´┐Żs Mother, or Alderman Fitzwarren´┐Żs cook- They transform into Cinderella´┐Żs cruel sisters, run their Chinese Laundries and generally keep up the tradition of pantomime going back for hundreds of year- There truly is nothing like a Dame. Here´┐Żs a list of this year´┐Żs crop of Dames of the British Empire:


May McFettridge - Belfast Opera House

Don McLean - Birmingham Hippodrome

Bobby Bennett - Bradford Alhambra

Ian Good - Brighton Theatre Royal

David Hill & Tony Jackson - Bristol Hippodrome

Tudor Davies - Bromley

Brian Godfrey & Tony Wright - Cardiff New Theatre

Glynn Sweet & Mitch Jenkins - Crawley Hawth

Simon Bashford & Mark Two - Dartford Orchard

Allan Stewart - Edinburgh Kings

The Patton Brothers - Llandudno

Jeffrey Holland - Manchester Opera House

Roger Kitter - Northampton

Nigel Ellacott & Peter Robbins - Plymouth Theatre Royal

John Inman - Richmond


Lily Savage: The Wicked Queen - London Victoria Palace

Danny La Rue: Fairy Godmother - Cardiff New Theatre


Dilly Kean & Adele Anderson (Fascinating Aida) - Barnstaple


Kevin Johns - Swansea Grand

Roger Royle - Wimbledon

Peter John - Aylesbury

Clive Rowe - Hackney

Andrew Ryan - Bournemouth Pavilion

James Horne - Lewisham

Keith Hopkins - Redditch

Stephen David - Basingstoke

Chris Harris - Bath Theatre Royal

Mike Grady - Blackpool

Charles Burden - Mansfield

James Biddlecombe - Malvern

David Benson - Newbury

Steve Barclay - Lichfield.

Trevor Bannister - Newport

Bobbie Kent & Jamie Morris - Grimsby

Peter Thorne - Yeovil

Darren Johnson - Weymouth

Phil Hayes - Epsom Playhouse

Marc Seymour - Ilford Kenneth More

David Phipps Davis - Worthing

Ronne Coyles - Bolton

Ian Adams - Millfield

James & Quinn - Rotherham

Aiden Bell & Michael James - Doncaster

Simon Young & Kester Lewis  - Fareham

Gary Starr & Anthony Stuart-Hicks - Halifax

Rob Forknall - Peterborough Cresset

Michael Fenton Stevens - Cambridge Arts

Donald Scott - Carlisle

Jack Edwards & Phil Holden - Chatham

Tim Treslove - Colchester

Andy Hockley - Coventry

Dave Short - Telford

David Moreton - Newcastle

Rod Arthur - Watford

Colin Baker - Nottingham

Royce Mills - Guildford

Darrock and Howe - Wolverhampton

Nick Wilton - Connaught, Worthing

Dominic Gray - Hounslow

Andrew Oldham - Stafford

Robert Read and Graham Crammond - Eden Court, Inverness

Mark McDonnel - Musselburgh

Scott Campbell and Martin Ramsdin - Horsham

Douglas Mounce - Stockport

Michael Courtney - Skegness

Ian Ganderton and Paul Morse - Leatherhead

Berwick Kaler - York

Barry Hester - St Albans


To Be Continued!


If you are missing from this list, or know of any Dames we have yet to add, please e-mail us at info@its-behind-you.com

12th September 2004

ArtsFest 2004 - The Ugly Sisters and Webmaster entertain!!

Dodging the rain in Birmingham over the weekend, the Ugly Sisters have been helping the Hippodrome promote their pantomime 'Jack and the Beanstalk' and presenting acts on the main stage in Centenary Square, all this as part of Europe's biggest FREE arts event 'ArtsFest'. Amazingly you would have also found the Webmaster in Birmingham as part of ArtsFest helping the Hippodrome promote Welsh National Opera's visit in November (16th - 20th!) - he appeared at St Martins in the Bullring and the CBSO centre as part of the Three Other Tenors from Welsh National Opera. But like ships in the night their paths never crossed. More information on the weekend can be found on www.artsfest.org.uk 

19th August 2004

Sir Ian McKellen on preparing to play Widow Twankey at the Old Vic

Follow the link to Sir Ian's website to read his words on appearing as Widow Twankey this Holiday Season.


Further details  and how to book can be found on the Old Vic website - www.oldvictheatre.com

11th August 2004

Panto returns to the West End!!




Pantomime returns to London´┐Żs West End this year when one of the country´┐Żs most popular entertainers, Lily Savage, takes on the nastiest role in pantoland - The Wicked Queen - in a stunning production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The show runs at the Victoria Palace, for 50 performances only, from Friday 17 December 2004 to Sunday 23 January 2005.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is written by Paul O´┐ŻGrady, Tudor Davies, Paul Elliott and Carole Todd and is staged by Qdos Entertainment, the world´┐Żs largest pantomime producer, and Paul Elliott Ltd

The stage effects include a spectacular animatronic-talking raven, with the voice of the late Bill Dean (Brookside) and a Mirror full of magical surprises! Lily Savage´┐Żs musical numbers in the show will include ´┐ŻPut A Spell On You´┐Ż, ´┐ŻTrouble´┐Ż, ´┐ŻHappy Days Are Here Again´┐Ż and ´┐ŻFemale of the Species´┐Ż!

Lily Savage began her career as a pub and club entertainer. She moved from South London Royal Vauxhall Tavern to the London Palladium, sharing the bill with Victoria Wood in 1993 and in her own show in 1994. Lily´┐Żs many TV Awards include ´┐ŻMost Popular Entertainment Programme´┐Ż (National Television Awards), ´┐ŻBest Entertainment Programme´┐Ż at the British Comedy Awards, and the Variety Club BBC TV Personality of the Year 1997.  Lily played Miss Hannigan in ´┐ŻAnnie´┐Ż at the Victoria Palace in 98-99 and on tour at the UK´┐Żs major theatres.

Paul O´┐ŻGrady moved into the world of entertainment via his alter ego Lily Savage. In 2002 he was the Child Catcher in ´┐ŻChitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang´┐Ż at the London Palladium.  He is currently filming a second 7 part BBC TV series of ´┐ŻEyes Down´┐Ż, which will be screened in the autumn culminating in a Christmas Special.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is directed by Carole Todd, designed by Alan Miller- Bunford with choreography by Colin Lang and lighting by Joe Atkins.


www.gopanto.com for details

26th July 2004

Panto Team Reunion

A small gang of Manchester/Southampton 'veterans' were entertained at Brian's house over the weekend, a good time was had by all!!

Around the table (L to R) - Brian, Anne-Marie, Rachel, Loren, Nigel, Andrew, Kirsty and 'Bam-Bam'. Relaxing round the pool (L to R) - Loren, Rachel and Anne-Marie. Relaxing in the pool (L to R) - Brian, Andrew and Sean.

Looking forward to seeing most of them in Plymouth later in the year!

Nigel xx

19th July 2004

'Tis the season......

Looking out at a very soggy landscape, it´┐Żs easy to forget it is actually July and not November- in fact, all over Pantoland at the moment it IS  November, or might as well be- we´┐Żre all well into the preparation for the forthcoming season.

While the rest of the country looks forward to the sun and sangria, those of us in the Panto frontlines are already living and breathing the land of make-believe. As I type I´┐Żm already designing ´┐ŻSnow White´┐Ż costumes for the Kenneth More Theatre´┐Żs forthcoming panto. Trips are made on a weekly basis to buy fabrics in ´┐ŻBorovicks´┐Ż, braid from ´┐ŻBarnett Lawson´┐Ż and the search is on for large quantities of UV Lycra (better than the satin, you can mould it for the obligatory UV Puppet Act!).

Gerry, our scenic designer flies over from Italy on Monday to begin his annual three weeks locked in the dark depths of the paint store. Like Rapunzel he won´┐Żt be let out or see daylight until he´┐Żs produced acres of painted cloths- this year a Haunted Wood, a Haunted bedroom and several palace interiors to start with. Exchanging Rome for Ilford doesn´┐Żt worry Gerry- He never sees it in daylight!

Next week I start the script- this will be my third ´┐ŻSnow White´┐Ż over the past fifteen years, and I think the 25th  panto script to date. This is when, of course the sun will actually come out, and I´┐Żll be gazing at it while working out the order of the ´┐ŻHaunted Bedroom´┐Ż or a cod Ballet no doubt. If you want it to be hot, just put me in a darkened room with a panto script to complete. It never fails!

The makers have already had some of the sketches and fabrics, and  within a few weeks the Girl´┐Żs opening dresses and the odd animal head will start arriving courtesy of the carrier companies. It´┐Żs an odd thing now that a lot of the wardrobe work is done outside the KMT to think that the Rabbit´┐Żs head will be made in Devon, the bodysuit in Surrey, the Body itself in Hampshire and the footwear in Camden. Still, let´┐Żs just hope that all the body parts arrive here intact. I´┐Żve never forgotton the Panto cow that made it to a depot in East London and vanished into the great pasture in the sky. I mean.. how can you lose an eight foot pantomime cow for goodness sake?? The answer- ´┐ŻEasily´┐Ż´┐Ż

Casting the show is almost complete, and in two weeks time the Juveniles will be coming in to be measured for various dwarf, cuddly squirrel and baby ghost costumes. A total of twenty  children will be selected, and forty mothers will have to be faced with a ´┐ŻYes´┐Ż or a ´┐ŻNo´┐Ż. I wonder if Simon Cowell is available to do the honours?

The Magic Mirror here wil be a laser hologram- a fantastic effect, one we used a few years ago. The mask like face is three dimensional, and spins, turns, glowers and speaks- but only in rhyming couplets- lip-sync is a lot easier in iambic pentameters! We´┐Żve had the lasers overhauled and the ´┐ŻMirror´┐Ż programme checked and rechecked, but even so there will be a ´┐Żlive´┐Ż understudy waiting in the wings for the moment when the hi tech turns to no-tech!

On the panto front Peter and I have already done the Panto launch for ´┐ŻCinderella´┐Ż at the Theatre Royal Plymouth. Panto came to Plymouth on July 1st in fact. We had a great day with Brian Conley and Paul Elliott, the producer standing in the drizzle in full slap! Again, on the panto front we´┐Żre putting together the ´┐ŻPantomime Roadshow´┐Ż which will start touring in mid September, and I´┐Żve been putting the finishing touches to some illustrations and photographs for ´┐ŻIt´┐Żs Behind You´┐Ż. No- not this web site, but a book by Peter Latham, due out in November. Peter and I were delighted to be asked to be the ´┐ŻCover Girls´┐Ż, and the book contains a large number of items from my archive, most of which are on display here.

So- to all of you out there in Pantoland, slaving over a hot script, or press release or stitching the giant´┐Żs beard to his face- you are not alone! There are many of us doing exactly the same thing at the same time.. I sometimes wonder if the audiences realise how much goes into the Festive Panto? I wonder if they think we pull it out of a box and drop it onto the stage within a week, or whether they even wonder? The important thing is, it´┐Żs all magic! And if it seems that way to them, then we must be doing SOMETHING right!

Good luck Panto People- it´┐Żll all be fine by Christmas!

Best Wishes,


22nd April 2004

Sir Ian McKellen to play Widow Twankey - OFFICIAL!!

The Evening Standard reports that Kevin Spacey has announced his forthcoming first season as the Artistic Director at the Old Vic. They will present "Aladdin" with Sir Ian McKellen in the role of pantomime Dame- Widow Twankey.

He said he was "thrilled" that Sir Ian, 64, one of Britain's most distinguished actors, had agreed to appear in Sean Mathias' production of "Aladdin".

"It's very unusual that you get a Sir and a Dame in the same Knight".

Further details can be found on the Old Vic website - www.oldvictheatre.com

20th November 2004

Sister on the Radio!!

Nigel will be on BBC London Radio 94.9FM on Sunday 28th November at lunchtime on the arts programme with Tessa Dunlop. The topic is, of course, pantomime, and they will be joined on the air by Peter Lathan, author of "Its Behind You" - available from all good bookshops now!!

You can pre-order/buy this from Amazon by clicking on the link below - they are, of course, not the only suppliers.


"It's Behind You! The Story of Panto" by Peter Lathan. (2004)

24th March 2004

Roadshow - STOP PRESS!!

The "Introduction to Theatre" Roadshow is touring the London Borough of Redbridge for the Kenneth More Theatre this April. The tour commences on Tuesday 20th April and concludes on Friday 30th April playing to primary school audiences twice daily in schools around the area. The cast consists of Nigel Ellacott, Peter Robbins and Andrew Ryan.

For more information on the Roadshows offered, follow the link to see our information pages.

7th March 2004

Blance Neige - French Pantomime?!

Spotted in Paris recently!

19th November 2003

Pantomime Alliance of Leicestershire

PAL is putting on its 3rd 'Salute to Pantomime' in Hinckley on 14th March 2004.

The web site is http://beehive.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/pantoleics


17th February 2004

Still looking for a Pantomime?

Whilst most pantomimes have been packed up and put into storage until later in the year, you can still catch one at the Brick Lane Music Hall-Vincent Hayes 's production of the adult panto "Sleeping Beauty" running until March 6th 2004. Starring Vincent Hayes, Phil Starr, Annabelle Lee, Vivienne McMaster, Colin MacLachlan, Meryl Fernandez and Sheney Moodie, featuring the Jennifer Haley Dancers and Noel Charles as Musical Director.

Further details can be found at www.bricklanemusichall.co.uk

14th December 2003

The Sisters......on the radio!

Nigel and Peter will be making two appearances on Radio in the coming week - catch them if you can:-

Thursday 18th December, 8.25pm TWENTY MINUTES

In the interval of Performance on Three just prior to a performance of Prokofiev's Cinderella Suite, Twenty Minutes discusses:-

What's Wrong With Ugly?

Cinderella may be the star but where would she be without her sisters? The distinguished fairy-tale expert Marina Warner explores the role of the ugly sisters, while actors Nigel Ellacott and Peter Robbins, who have been performing the roles for over twenty years, get into costume and into character (and not a tasteless frock or a bad-tempered comment between them).
email: twenty.minutes@bbc.co.uk

Sunday 21st December, 7.15pm

Join Barney Harwood, and his Studio Guests Nigel Ellacott and Peter Robbins, for Radio 4's children's magazine programme and learn about the history of Pantomime. email: gfi@bbc.co.uk

7th December 2003

Patricia Burke (1917 - 2003)

Patricia Burke, premier Principal Boy of the 1940´┐Żs died on November 23rd aged 86.

The daughter of the actress Marie Burke and Tom Burke, an Opera singer, she was born on March 23rd 1917 in Milan, where her parents were touring. Marie Burke herself was a noted Principal boy in Pantomime. Her daughter, Patricia began her career as an actress, moving into revue, and played Principal Boy in many productions for the impresario Tom Arnold in the 1940´┐Żs. and 1950´┐Żs.

When, in the 1960´┐Żs popular recording stars began featuring in pantomime, and the rise of the male Principal Boy began, the BBC brought together some of the famous ´┐Żboys´┐Ż of the 1930´┐Żs and ´┐Ż40s, in a radio programme, her mother Marie Burke joined Clarice Mayne, Dorothy Ward and Evelyn Laye to defend the old tradition against the new ´┐Żinvaders´┐Ż.

Patricia Burke toured for ENSA during the war, and joined the Old Vic company in 1947 playing opposite Trevor Howard. During the 1950´┐Żs she was leading lady in many West End productions including ´┐ŻCockles and Champagne´┐Ż and ´┐ŻLysistrata´┐Ż, and in 1968 took over in ´┐ŻCharlie Girl´┐Ż at The Adelphi Theatre.

11th November 2003

Christmas Lights and Post Offices!!

The sisters will be turning on some Christmas Lights this coming weekend!

Firstly they are switching on the lights in Covent Garden on Saturday 15th November between 5.45 and 6.15pm approximately. The Sisters will be making an appearance onstage in the Piazza, bringing a section of the 'Magic of Pantomime' show to the stage before they switch the lights on.

Then the following day, Sunday 16th November, they are with Brian Conley switching on the lights in Manchester between 5.45pm and 6.15pm, followed by fireworks. The venue is Albert Square, Manchester.

The Royal Mail Christmas campaign is now in all the post offices around the UK- the sisters beaming at you from posters, lifesized cardboard cut-outs and brochures from Inverness to Exeter. The Sisters have also recorded a series of Radio Adverts to accompany the Post Office campaign, and these will be aired from November 15th.

1st December 2003

'Murder at the Panto'

If you have ever wondered what might happen if something went terribly wrong on the set of a Pantomime then look no further than the latest murder mystery game ´┐ŻMurder at the Panto´┐Ż published by B V Leisure Ltd.


The latest production to be put on by Gusset-on-Navel Amateur Dramatic Society is the adult version of Aladdin and the final dress rehearsal is about to take place. The Producer and Director, Harry Stoke-Ratt has climbed on to the lighting gantry to set up the stage lighting for the rehearsal but he mysteriously falls to his death. Play the game and find out who extinguished Harry's light.


For further details of the game please www.playmurdermystery.com


3rd November 2003

The Pantomime Roadshow 2003

The most recent Roadshow has just finished, having played schools in both Manchester and Birmingham for the Opera House and the Hippodrome respectively.

We've played to fifty packed school halls, and have spread the pantomime gospel to over 15,000 schoolchildren in all, plus a day at the Trafford Centre, Manchester for Learning week. Now the set has been packed away, and it's all hands to the tiler for panto proper.

For more pictures, see the Roadshow section.

16th October 2003

Songsheet Competition

Last year Paul Holman Associates challenged the regulars of It's Behind You to write a song sheet for their production of Peter Pan at The Playhouse Theatre, Weston Super Mare. Well it was so popular that they decided to throw down the same challenge this year.

They need your suggestions for their production of Aladdin starring Peter Amory (Emmerdale) Bindya Solanki (Eastenders) John Pickard (2.4 Children) and popular pantomime dame Peter John. The prize, if the song is selected, is 2 free tickets for the production or 2 free tickets for another Paul Holman Associates pantomime closer to where you live.

Send your entries to paulholmanassociates@blueyonder.co.uk and mention where you saw the competition!

If you want any inspiration or to see the sort of format you need - and that's not an excuse to 'borrow' one - check out our Songsheets section.

Happy Writing and hopefully we'll be including your songsheet in our website very soon!

10th September 2003

Nicholas Brent

NICHOLAS BRENT has passed away at the age of 84. Much in demand for Pantomime, he was an imposing Demon King, and played this role alongside John Inman in "Mother Goose" for several years around the country and at the Victoria Palace, London in 1981.

He began his career as straight man to the comic Don Smoothey, and moved into repertory, and later into the West End. He performed Pantomime for Derek Salberg and Tom Arnold, as well as Triumph around the United Kingdom. He also appeared in Summer Season with Hylda Baker in "Not on Your Nelly" at Blackpool, and with Ken Platt. He toured with John Inman in "Pajama Tops" for Paul Raymond during the 1970's.

20th July 2003

Grimaldi Exhibition - 16th July to 30th September 2003

Finsbury Library - www.islington.gov.uk

25th June 2003


Qdos get the MIDAS touch!

The World´┐Żs largest pantomime producer Qdos Entertainment has joined forces with Jim Davidson´┐Żs pantomime company Midas. The transaction brings together the two main players in the pantomime and Light Entertainment industry under the Qdos banner.

The collaboration creates wider performance opportunities for the joint portfolio of artistes including Davidson himself, who has signed a 3 year pantomime performance contract with Qdos. Similarly, the enlarged estate of pantomime venues will benefit from the joint talent pool and merged production resources.

Barrie Stead, who until April managed Davidson´┐Żs panto interests is now working with Qdos on Davidson´┐Żs 2003 panto venues which include Southampton, Northampton, Dartford, Croydon, Sunderland and Tunbridge Wells, ensuring a smooth merging of interests.

Jim Davidson commented, ´┐ŻAs a performer I am looking forward to playing Qdos´┐Ż major pantomime dates that up until now have been unavailable to me. I will bring to Qdos my original pantomime ideas which can be expanded using their extensive resources´┐Ż

Qdos Managing Director Nick Thomas said, ´┐ŻWe are delighted to be working with Jim, not only as a performer but in terms of his originality and creativity in pantoland. We now have the strongest talent and creative resource in the industry. This will hugely benefit our client venues, offering the highest quality productions and biggest star names now ranging over 37 venues throughout the world´┐Ż.

22nd June 2003

VALENTYNE NAPIER- "The Human Spider"

The Contortionist and dancer Valentyne Napier was billed as "The Human Spider", and as such appeared in many pantomimes, notably as the spider in "Little Miss Muffet". A web was constructed on the stage, and as the tabs opened Valentyne Napier was revealed in her black costume against the U.V webbing. She would then perform rope balancing and acrobatics as the spider to the enchantment of her audience.

Originally her parents Hector and Yvonne performed a similar act called "The Spider and the butterfly, a sort of webbed adagio act, and their daughter took over when they retired in the late 1940's. She became a solo act in the early 1950's performing her act in variety, and in pantomimes such as "The Sleeping Beauty" and "Miss Muffet", supervising every get -in and the intricate construction of her own web.

She retired to Australia in the 1960's and continued to be active in theatre and in writing. Her books "A Glossary of terms used in Variety" and "Act as Known" are a valuable research tool for those interested in variety and pantomime. Valentyne Napier died on May 28th aged eighty-three.

UPDATE!! 25th May 2003

Unfortunately Sir Ian will not be undertaking any pantomime engagements this year but hopefully plans for his Dame debut will come to fruition next year.

27th April 2003

Sir Ian McKellen in Panto!

We have had a number of stories about Sir Ian (star of X-Men and The Lord of the Rings, to name but a few!) doing Pantomime this season since his appearance on Parkinson a couple of weeks ago. We can confirm that Sir Ian is in negotiations with the Hackney Empire Theatre regarding the role of Widow Twankey in "Aladdin".

In an interview recently, Sir Ian was quoted as saying:-

"I'm hoping to play a dame quite soon in pantomime - I'm going to be Widow Twanky,"

"People think of me as doing Shakespeare but I've been in panto, I've been in musicals, I've been in a wide variety of things.

"Yes I've been in Shakespeare, but I don't see myself as a Shakespearean actor."


21st April 2003

Cherry Willoughby 1908 - 2003

Cherry Willoughby, choreographer has died aged 95 in Worthing, Sussex. For many years Cherry choreographed the pantomimes at the Grand Theatre, Swansea, directed by John Chilvers. She continued to choreograph until she was well into her ´┐Żseventies.

She began her career as a dancer, forming a double act with her sister, Hazel, who survives her. She choreographed for ENSA, and  staged dances in the West End for Stanley Baxter, Jewel and Warriss, and was in ´┐ŻZip Goes A Million´┐Ż with George Formby at the Palace Theatre, London.

10th March 2003

Cinderella in Marin!

Cinderella, played by Rachel Brown, cowers behind her Ugly Stepsisters, ´┐ŻPanto Dames´┐Ż Richard Ryan and Adam Venker, in Marin Shakespeare Company´┐Żs production of ´┐ŻCinderella,´┐Ż through Dec. 29 2002.

MARIN SHAKESPEARE CO.: ´┐ŻCinderella,´┐Ż a musical ´┐ŻPanto´┐Ż adapted by Nigel Ellacott. The Stage, 142 Throckmorton, Mill Valley, California, USA www.marinshakespeare.org.

27th January 2003


Just received a ´┐Żphone call from Brian- he tells me he´┐Żll be making another appearance in a theatre early this week- only this time, it´┐Żs an OPERATING THEATRE!

Brian is now in hospital, awaiting surgery on a gallstone problem. He hopes to be operated on in the next couple of days. Brian tells me he drove home from the Theatre last evening (Sunday) after our two shows, and in the middle of the night took himself to casualty, where he was admitted overnight.

For the past couple of days Brian developed what he thought was a back strain, and had several visits from an osteopath. On top of this he had been experiencing stomach pain. You would never have known, looking at him on stage that there was a hint of a problem- as usual Brian was firing on all cylinders. He agrees that the whole thing was magnificently timed! After completing 61 shows he left the theatre at 9.30pm for the last time, and five hours later is in a hospital bed with a glamorous drip attached´┐Żnow that truly is a comic´┐Żs perfect timing!

Get better soon, Brian!! From all of us in the company and in pantoland´┐ŻBest of luck, Mate!

BRIAN CONLEY UPDATE - 10th February 2003

Brian just rang and is through his surgery. The removed (amongst other things!) a stone the size of a champagne cork! He's recovering well.

22nd January 2003

A Reminder - Salute to Pantomime

The UK Pantomime Alliance are putting on their second 'Salute to Pantomime' on 14th March 2003 at the Century Theatre, Coalville for amateur groups to come together and have a good time. Info about that is on http://beehive.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/pantoleics

Quick off the mark - Pantomime Season 2003/4!!

This is a record - the panto season has not even finished and we've enough to start a diary for next season! Check out the start of our 2003/4 Diary - more to follow!

7th December 2002

BBC Wales Pantomime 2002 Aladdin

We received this fantastic email which we wanted to share with you!

First of all, what a fantastic site ! I read about it in todays " Stage " and it surpasses all expectations

So pleased you mentioned the BBC Wales pantomime " Aladdin " which was my re-write of the previous years stage panto I'd written for the Owen Money Theatre Company.

I don't blow my own trumpet often enough ( after all, I'm not a trained musician ) but when " Aladdin " was shown last New Years Day, it achieved a 45% audience share, which thrilled us all to know there's still a tv audience out there for traditional, innuendo-free panto that every generation of the family can enjoy.

So here's a plug for anyone with digital tv. Well you need a plug for digital tv or it won't work. " Aladdin " is being repeated at 8.00pm this Christmas Eve on digital channel BBC Wales 2 W , which can be seen all over the UK .

So let the children stay up that extra hour ( they won't sleep anyway ) to enjoy some daft gags- old and new, plenty of slapstick, great songs, a really nasty Abanazar in the shape of " Mind To Kill " actor Ieuan Rhys...and of course the best Wishee Washee in the business.....Wales Number One Comedian & Broadcaster, Owen Money. And " Driving Schools " Maureen Rees's performance as The Genie is unforgettable!

Blimey....it sounds so good, I'll have to watch it again myself !

Thanks for keeping the panto tradition going - if we all do our best, it'll be around for a long time to come.

Best wishes

Alan Wightman

Keith Simmons as King Rat30th November 2002

The Grand Order of Water Rats Annual Ball - 24th November 2002

´┐ŻOh Yes It Was!´┐Ż

On Sunday Nigel & Peter were guests of King Rat, Keith Simmons at the Grosvenor House, to celebrate the annual G.O.W.R ball, with it´┐Żs theme of Pantomime. In the presence of  Companion  Water Rat, HRH  Prince Michael of Kent, and Water Rats and their friends the evening was a great success, and succeeded in raising a great deal of money for the G.O.W.R charities along the way.

Upon arrival we were greeted by pupils of the Sylvia Young Theatre School dressed in pantomime costumes, and attended Keith´┐Żs reception at the Albermarle Suite. It was packed with wall to wall pantomime personalities including Danny La Rue, Jeffrey Holland and Judy Buxton, Sue Hodge, Anita Harris and her husband Mike Margolis, Roy Hudd, Chris Emmett, Joe Pasquale, Barbara Windsor and the legendary Sir Norman Wisdom.

The Banquet was filled with appearances of the ´┐ŻEvil´┐Ż King Rat from Pantoland, challenging the ´┐Żupstart´┐Ż Grand Order Of Water Rat´┐Żs own King Rat, and with speeches by Keith Simmons, Danny La Rue and Jimmy Tarbuck, who, seated a short distance from Christine and Neil Hamilton got a great audience response to his mentioning their august presence in this year´┐Żs pantomime circuit.

The cabaret was provided by the eternally youthful Jess Conrad as Prince Charming taking on the challenge from the ´┐ŻTrue´┐Ż Principal boy, Anita Harris. Anita gave an excellent display of swordsmanship and brought the house down with a number from her stage version of ´┐ŻPeter Pan´┐Ż. Joining them in the panto fun were Roy Hudd (now Coronation Street) as the Demon King versus John Bardon (now Eastenders) as Good Fairy. The Balloon ballet was presented by Eric Potts and Dave Lee, and a display of human (well, almost) ´┐ŻRed Arrows´┐Ż by Richard Gautlett and company. Declan Galbraith sang a solo, but the highlight of the cabaret was a performance of Disney songs performed by Ben Simmons and the pupils of the Sylvia Young Stage School. Music was provided by the Ray McVay Orchestra throughout.

During the evening awards were presented to, amongst others, Julie Rogers and a lifetime achievement award to Dame Vera Lyn. The proceedings were under the control of Toastmaster and Water Rat Bryn Williams.

We had a splendid time, meeting up with panto pals like Connie Creighton, Kris Akabusi, Brian Conley and many others. A rare chance to chat before we all depart for our various pantomimes this and next week. On our table we were delighted to be with Johnny Ball, Trevor Bannister and their spouses, and the delightful Rusty Lee in top form! A splendid night shared with those most charitable folk, celebrating over a hundred years of charitable causes- the Grand Order of Water Rats.

And did we have a few glasses of wine? Ohhh yes we did! Thank you Water Rats, and King Rat Keith for bringing pantomime to life at the Grosvenor House last night. Like Cinderella, we had a ball!

18th November 2002

Songsheet Competition


Paul Holman Associates are inviting readers of this site to suggest a suitable songsheet for this production. The songsheet will be performed by the character Smee and it needs to be an action type song.

If we use the song you've chosen, we are happy to give 2 complimentary seats for this production {or if nearer to another Paul Holman Associates Pantomime}.

All ideas can be e- mailed to paulholmanassociates@blueyonder.co.uk

15th July 2002

It's Panto Time!

Oh, Yes it is! With a vengeance! This is the time of year when those who work in the panto industry are at their busiest. While the paying public won´┐Żt be thinking about booking a seat until the cold weather arrives (which, in the case of the United Kingdom is now) the rest of us are preparing for the festive shows.

All around the country the casting departments are putting the finishing touches to their bills- by now the Star names have been booked, regular performers and repertory favourites are already booking their digs, and the auditions for Panto chorus singers and dancers are underway. The dancing schools are selecting the juveniles, and the wardrobe departments are hoping they won´┐Żt grow too much between now and December.

This is the time of year when Pantomime producers are going through their wardrobe requirements for the shows. Their stores will already be aware how many ´┐ŻJacks´┐Ż, ´┐ŻSnow White´┐Żs´┐Ż and ´┐ŻCinders´┐Ż they will need to provide, and daily the measurement forms are arriving. Those using existing stock will be puzzling how to fit a size 12 into a size ten, and many fittings have already taken place, as press calls around the country began in March.

Here at the Kenneth More Theatre I have a rare treat. After writing 26 pantomimes for the venue, I am about to write one I have never done before- ´┐ŻJack and The Beanstalk´┐Ż! The subject has never been attempted here as, with a raked auditorium, we feared sight lines would mean half the audience would see half a giant! Those problems have been solved, and so I get to write a brand new subject. The downside is, I´┐Żll be writing it during August when there is the slim possibility it will be sunny.

Here we have already started the pantomime process- the show is cast, the tickets go on sale to the public in a matter of weeks, and the wardrobe department is filling up with fabric, sequin appliques and yards of ostrich feather. I´┐Żve been designing the costumes here for over twenty years, and each year it seems to start earlier and earlier. The Finale has been designed- gold with an electric fountain theme, and our scenic designer arrives on Monday to start painting. Gerry will have eight cloths to paint, in addition to groundrows, cut cloths and flattage. He´┐Żs undertaken the ´┐ŻGiant´┐Ż task of constructing the beanstalk, and will face the challenge of getting it to fit into our stage trap. I don´┐Żt envy him.

The wardrobe is knee deep in gingham this year, as our panto opens in Dame Trott´┐Żs farmyard. The children will make an appearance as animals. I have the daunting task of explaining to the mothers I will be requiring their offspring to be a pig´┐Żor possibly a sheep.. in a full head mask so no-one can tell which child is which (except of course the Mothers and Grannies).

Sop, as I sit here, surrounded by sketches, bits of paper with odd music ideas scribbled on them, trying to explain over the ´┐Żphone how the Fairy´┐Żs feathers must be detachable from her ´┐Żbustle´┐Ż otherwise she´┐Żll have to stand for the entire eight week run.. I know I´┐Żm not alone. All over the country someone, somewhere is doing EXACTLY the same!!

To those of you in the real world of magic- this site salutes you. Just think of December, when the show is up and running, and you can sit down, put your feet up´┐ŻOh wait a minute.. that´┐Żs when Peter & I will be doing twice daily at the Mayflower, Southampton. Well, for some of you, you can sit back, enjoy the spectacle and truly say that ´┐ŻIt´┐Żs behind you!´┐Ż ´┐Ż´┐Żthat is until the producer taps you on the shoulder and says.. ´┐ŻNow, about NEXT year´┐Ż.!´┐Ż

God Bless us, one and all!

2nd September 2002

Roadshow News

The Pantomime Roadshow heads for Birmingham!

The Hippodrome Theatre, Birmingham presents the Pantomime Roadshow in schools around the area for six weeks. Each day from September 30th to November 16th the Panto Roadshow visits different Primary schools. Nigel Ellacott and Peter Robbins will appear as the Ugly Sisters, joined by Ian Sandy in this Hippodrome production.


21st August 2002

Lord Archer in Theatre Royal Lincoln's Panto - Rumours quashed!

Another ex-politician in the news! News has reached us at IBY that the Theatre Royal Lincoln's pantomime will not be Pinocchio! It had been rumoured that, following Lord Archer's first day working as a tea boy at the theatre, a late change would be made. Lord Archer, currently serving a 4 year prison sentence for perjury, is being let out to work behind the scenes at the theatre from Monday to Friday. 

The plans for pantomime remain as published - Snow White starring Su Pollard from 14th Dec '02 - 26th Jan '03.


1st August 2002

Neil and Christine Hamilton in Panto!

IBY were surprised to find that the disgraced Tory MP Neil Hamilton and his wife Christine will be treading the boards this year in Jack and the Beanstalk. The Hamilton's, who were the subject of a Louis Theroux 'documentary' programme last year, are 'famous' for their unsuccessful libel bid against Harrods boss Mohammed Al-Fayed - amongst other things! Neil has 'starred' on the Ali G show, while Christine had a brief spell on BBC Choice as a talk show host - they have quite literally tried their hands at everything!

They line up as King Neil and Bossy Fairy Battleaxe opposite Rula Lenska as Jack, Royce Mills as Dame Trott, Michael Cochrane as Fleshcreep, Andy Collins as Silly Billy and Daniella Gibb as Jill. The show runs at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford from the 13th December 2002 - 5th January 2003. Check the theatre website for booking details.

Louis Theroux himself appeared in panto last year (briefly!) when his programme followed Keith Harris in Crewe's pantomime - he was allowed to join the chorus for one night only!

2nd September 2002

Birmingham ArtsFest 2002

Nigel Ellacott & Peter Robbins will be appearing in the Birmingham Art's Fest on Saturday 7th September. The Ugly Sisters will appear in three performances of their "Introduction to Pantomime" in the Hippodrome Theatre Foyer, and will take part in the main centenary square festivities later on that evening. During the day they will be joined by Ian Sandy in all these events.

This is the fourth year that they have taken part in a week-end event that celebrates and publicises the arts and entertainment in the Midlands area.

See our report of last years event

16th June 2002

Danny La Rue OBE

Congratulations to Danny La Rue who was today awarded the OBE in the Queens Jubilee Honours List.

13th June 2002

Patrick Fyffe - Creator of Dame Hilda Bracket

St. Paul's Church, Covent Garden - A Service of Celebration


Barbara Newman (April 11th 1914 - May 4th 2002)

'The Best Goose in the Business'


20th April 2002

Lily Savage / Paul O'Grady

Comedian Paul O'Grady, better known to all as larger-than-life drag act Lily Savage, is recovering after having a heart attack. He was admitted to a London hospital with a heart attack on Thursday night, after a two-hour operation he is comfortable and resting and is expected to make a full recovery.

All at IBY send best wishes for a speedy recovery and hope to see Lily return to the pantomime fold later in the year in Manchester as announced.

31st January 2002

The National Music Hall and Variety Festival

If you are at a loose end from the 18th - 21st April 2002, then why not get yourself down to Weston Super Mare to visit The National Music Hall and Variety Festival. Amongst the many things on offer you will find Exhibitions of Pantomime Dames.

Visit their website




3rd December 2001

Aladdin - Eastenders goes Panto!

Viewers of the long running BBC1 soap may have seen last weeks episodes which included Pauline Fowler in rehearsal as Widow Twankey, Robbie Jackson press ganged into appearing as Wishee Washee and the appearance of Abanazar (the actor Ian Lavender of Dad's Army fame). We are trying for some exclusive pictures and details from the BBC - watch this space.

20th November 2001

Birmingham Hippodrome - Re-opens!


Updated with details of the Silver Gala

11th November 2001

BBC Webguide - Best of the Net

For our Second Year we have once again been featured on the BBC Webguide as 'Best of the Net' - lots of patting of backs and self satisfaction all round.

Listed in BBC WebGuide

28th October 2001

There is nothing like a Dame - 2001/2

For the 2001/02 Pantomime season, a glittering array of Pantomime Dames.

Here are where some of this season´┐Żs Panto stalwarts will be appearing. If you can add to this list, or indeed refute any of the listings, please e-mail us!

Ian Adams - Greenwich Theatre

Phillip Armstrong - Epsom Playhouse

Desmond Barritt - Theatre Royal, Norwich

Simon Bamford - Peterborough

Bobby Bennett - Stoke

Christopher Biggins - Arts, Cambridge

Malcolm Boyden - Grand, Wolverhampton

Rodger Bremble - Millfield Theatre, Enfield

Charles Burdon - Rhyl

Simon Bashford & Mark Two - Ashcroft, Croydon

Bobby Crush - Charter, Preston

Geoffrey Davies - Reading

Stephen David - Spa Bridlington

Darrock & Howe - Secombe Centre, Sutton

Nigel Ellacott & Peter Robbins - His Majesty´┐Żs, Aberdeen

Brian Godfrey & David Morton - Milton Keynes

Ian Good - Eastbourne

Chris Harris - Theatre Royal, Bath

Michael Harrison - Sands Centre, Carlisle

Herbert the hairdresser - Royal Court, Liverpool

Steve Heather - Grand Pavilion Porthcawl

David Hill & Tony Jackson - Richmond Theatre

James Horne - Civic, Chelmsford

Jeffrey Holland - Theatre Royal, Newcastle

Keith Hopkins - Hunstanton

Barry Hester - Llandudno  

Paul Gabriel - Nottingham

John Inman - Victoria, Woking

Peter John - Rickmansworth

Andrew Johns - Camberley arts Link

Darren Johnston - Decorum, Hemel Hempstead

Roger Kitter - Mayflower, Southampton

The Lavells - Crewe

Danny La Rue - Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Leslie Lawton - Hawth, Crawley

Jeffrey Longmore - Forum Theatre, Wythenshaw

Don Maclean - Hippodrome, Birmingham

Christopher Marlowe & Gary Moreline - King´┐Żs Southsea

May McFetteridge - Belfast

Douglas Mounce - Playhouse, Weston-Super-Mare

Chris MacDonnel - Redhill

Jimmy Patten - Civic, Darlington

Andrew Ryan - Kenneth More Theatre, Ilford

Clive Rowe - Cliffs Pavilion, Westcliff

Colin Roberts - Alhambra, Bradford

Wayne Sleep - Pavilion, Bournemouth

Scott St. Martyn - Gordon Craig, Stevenage

Allan Stewart - Wimbledon Theatre

Michael Sharville-Martin - Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Peter Thorne - New Theatre, Hull

Damien Williams - Thameside, Grays

David Williams - Telford

Sean Kearns - Waterfront Hall, Belfast

John Elkington - Oldham Coliseum

Shaun Crawley & Martin Fairs - Pavilion Theatre, Worthing


2nd November 2001

Colin Deveraux

Sadly, we report that Colin Deveraux (Dockyard Doris) lost his battle with cancer, and passed away on 29th October. A funeral service will be held in East London celebrating his life on November 10th.

2nd November 2001

Alma Cogan

A plaque will be unveiled on November 4th to commemorate Alma Cogan at her former home, 44, Stafford Court, Kensington High Street, London. The unveiling takes place at 12.noon.

17th September 2001

Birmingham Arts Fest

Full story and pictures - follow the link

19th February 2001

The Brick Lane Music Hall Closure

Sadly, after five years in Curtain Road, the Brick Lane Music Hall will be closing its doors for the last time on Saturday, following the last night of their Pantomime (24th February).

Due to increases in rent, this unique venue will close-but there are plans to relocate the venue, and re-open in a larger venue in the near future. Vincent Hayes, who has supervised the creation of the original Music Hall in Brick lane, and then created this one in Curtain Road will be putting his plans together for the third incarnation in the next few weeks.

If you would like to be kept in touch with plans, and receive information on the new building, please follow the link below to the Brick Lane website, and apply to go on their mailing list.

In the meantime the work of Brick Lane Music Hall continues in hospices, hospitals and day centres around London, as the artistes continue to tour their shows wherever they are requested to.

Website - www.brick-lane-music-hall.co.uk

19th February 2001

The Brick Lane Music Hall Charity Ball- More Reports

East London Advertiser. Thursday 15th February 2001

The looming closure did not dampen the high spirits at the Brick Lane Music Hall charity ball this year.

Despite the fact the music hall faces being shut down next month, the great and good turned out to show their support for the venue and raise lots of cash for the elderly.

Blockbuster host Bob Holness, who was joined by his wife Mary, soon got into the party spirit, Michael Caine's "Get Carter" co-star, Britt Ekland, who is also vice president of the UK Altzheimer's society, mingled with Stepney born agony aunt Claire Rainer and her husband Des at the reception.

While guest of honour, Danny La Rue sipped champagne with auctioneer Nick Bonham, who held a special after dinner auction, and of course the Ugly Sisters, Nigel Ellacott and Peter Robbins!

Last year thousands of pounds were raised for pensioners living in hospices and homes all over the East end.

12th February 2001

The Brick Lane Music Hall Charity Ball - Saturday 10th February 2001 - A Report from The Sisters

The second Brick Lane Music Hall Charity Ball was a great success, once again. Hopefully by the end of the evening a large sum of money was raised, which will enable the Music Hall to take its shows out to residential and care homes, as well as subsidising matinees in the theatre. In particular the funds raised will help to provide entertainment to those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's .

Guests arriving were greeted by the Pearly King and Queen, then ushered into the presence of the Ugly Sisters, Nigel Ellacott and Peter Robbins, where they had a photograph taken, which miraculously appeared two hours later, framed as a presentation.

Entertainment was also provided by stiltwalkers, puppeteers, the incredible close-up magic of Faye Presto and could have their future revealed by a fortune teller, or pose for a quick fire caricature. After passing through the guests were refreshed with champagne and canapes, before the arrival of the celebrity guests. This evening the Brick Lane Music Hall welcomed the Guest of Honour, Danny La Rue, along with Britt Ekland, who heads the Altzheimer's charity, in addition to Bob Holness and Claire Rainer.

Mr Derek Shine the Toastmaster called the guests to a sumptuous five course meal with wines generously donated by Harrison Vintners. The Ugly Sisters, having of course changed for dinner rejoined the guests, assisting in the Cartoon Competition, which involved guests writing a suitable (or in most cases highly risqu´┐Ż) caption to copies of their photograph! 

Vincent Hayes, founder and chairman of the Brick Lane Music Hall welcomed his guests, and presented the celebrity auctioneer, Nick Bonham, who held an auction raised large sums of money for the charity. Among prizes bid for were a trip to New York, Glider flights, Roy Keane's Manchester United Shirt, a three course dinner served in your own home for six guests, and a bespoke suit made to your requirements by Timothy Everest.

After dinner the guests were entertained by the Brick Lane Music Hall company, accompanied by Laurence Payne on pianoforte, and by the Guest of Honour, Danny La Rue, accompanied by David Carter. The evening was rounded off with a grand raffle, and dancing into the early hours. Once again it has been a delight to take part in such a worthwhile charity, and to enjoy an evening at one of the country's few remaining true Music Halls. Thank you Vincent, and to the committee headed by John and Carole Kettle, and to all the staff at Brick Lane for a wonderful evening!

3rd July 2001

Happy 1st Birthday - To Us !!

How can we have forgotten our first birthday - thanks to all those who have contributed and visited out site in the past twelve months - and there are a lot of you. Keep visiting and Long Live Pantomime !

Also a BIG thank you to Nick Thomas and Qdos Entertainment PLC, who have just agreed to extend their sponsorship of this site for another year. 

16th December 2000

BBC Home and Antiques - January 2001

All in a Day's Work - The Dame Game. Get your copy of this months magazine to read the interview with Nigel Ellacott by Richard Barber.

3rd May 2001

Phoenix the Calf

It has been reported that "Phoenix the Calf" has been booked for a starring role in "Jack & The Beanstalk" at the Wimbledon Theatre by Qdos, the pantomime producers. It is not known whether Phoenix will retain its name, or take the traditional stage name of "Daisy the Cow" at this stage, and whether arrangements have been made for a star dressing room to be fitted out with new mown hay. It is believed phoenix will get Equity minimum for what will undoubtedly be a "Moo-ving" performance, and obviously the company are on the horns of a dilemma over the repeal on the moo-vement of livestock in time for this lively hoofer to appear in Pantomime.

2nd May 2001

Ted Rogers

Ted Rogers, comedian and  host of the 1980´┐Żs game show  ´┐Ż3-2-1´┐Ż died in London, at the age of 65. Ted was in St. Thomas´┐Ż hospital where he was being treated for heart problems.

For Ten years Ted starred on Saturday Night television, alongside his partner, Dusty Bin, with whom he appeared in pantomime. A razor sharp wit, and the ability to scan the latest news, and create topical humour on the spot was one of the keys to his success. He was also a joy to work with, whether in variety, music hall or pantomime.

His career began as a Butlin´┐Żs redcoat, and just recently he hosted the ´┐ŻSearch for a Star´┐Ż final, and the redcoats selection finals. Not only a success in this country, his superb comic timing enabled him to cross the Atlantic, where he shared the bill with Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and  Shirley Bassey. His career took him to Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and South Africa. He notched up 16 appearances at the London Palladium. His UK tour with Bing Crosby in 1976 led to appearances with the legendary crooner in a series of concerts in America.

I first saw Ted in pantomime at the New Theatre, Cardiff as Wishee Washee in Aladdin, alongside Anne Aston, from TV´┐Żs ´┐ŻThe Golden Shot´┐Ż and, of course, Dusty Bin, the mechanical creation from ´┐Ż3-2-1´┐Ż.. I can remember the children leaving the auditorium trying to copy Ted´┐Żs trademark finger flicking the numbers 3-2-1, and the enjoyment he gave.

Recently I saw Ted again in Music Hall at the Grand Wolverhampton. It was as if time had stood still- he made gags about the audience wondering how it was possible he hadn´┐Żt changed a bit from the early eighties, and performed a brilliant twenty minute spot, as topical as ever. The world of Pantomime will miss him greatly.

Photo from www.bbc.co.uk

Ronnie Hilton

Ronnie Hilton the Fifties heart throb and ballad singer died today aged 75.

Ronnie had been ill for some time, having suffered a series of strokes, and died in a nursing home in Hailsham, East Sussex today.

Ronnie was born on 26th January, 1926 in Hull. He joined the Highland Light Infantry, was demobilised in 1947, returning to factory work in Leeds, where he continued to live for many years. Engagements as a band singer in 1950 led to a recording contract with HMV. By 1954 he had changed his name from Adrian Hill to Ronnie Hilton, and a year later had his own radio series.

For the next ten years he was one of the most popular vocalists in the UK. His hits included ´┐ŻI Still Believe´┐Ż, ´┐ŻA Blossom Fell´┐Ż, ´┐ŻNo Other Love´┐Ż which was number one in the charts in 1956, and his famous novelty number ´┐ŻA Windmill In Old Amsterdam´┐Ż.

Ronnie was a stalwart of Pantomime. When we had the great pleasure of working with him in Hull in 1989, Ronnie had appeared in twenty seven pantomimes. Paul Elliott of the E&B pantomime company presented Ronnie in his earliest Pantomimes. He played Baron Hardup (Our ´┐ŻDaddy´┐Ż) in The Hull production of Cinderella, and was a joy to work with, and to watch on stage. His career also continued with package shows celebrating the music of the 50´┐Żs & 60´┐Żs which he headlined, appearing with Dennis Lotis, Ruby Murray and Rosemary Squires. His career in radio resumed when he presented the highly popular ´┐ŻSounds of the 50´┐Żs´┐Ż for Radio two in recent years.

The man who sang ´┐ŻDear Hearts and Gentle People´┐Ż was a true gentleman, with a very dear heart. Our deepest sympathy to Christine his wife, and to his children.  

The Theatre Museum in London presented an exhibition of Pantomime Dame portraits 'There is Nothing like a Dame' - see the EXHIBITION page for more details.

Gloria Hunniford's Open House - 11th December 2.15pm

Channel 5's 'Open House' with Gloria Hunniford had a Pantomime Special today. Among Gloria's guests were Danny La Rue, Vicki Michelle, Jean Boht, Christopher Biggins and Nick Weir - most in costume. In the second half there was an interview with Malcolm Jones of the Theatre Museum, along with Danny and Chris which took place against the backdrop of the Pantomime Dame portraits painted by Judy Graham - as featured in our Exhibition pages and at the Theatre Museum. On display were the portraits of Dan Leno, Christopher Biggins, Terry Scott, Danny La Rue and Nigel Ellacott & Peter Robbins. Quite what Foster and Alan had to do with Pantomime is anyone's guess! Finished with a nice panto songsheet and in the good old panto tradition it was a draw!

Pantomime at the Theatre Museum 2000/1

Full Details about the activities at the Theatre Museum with regard to Pantomime this festive season.

Wyn Calvin 

Wyn Calvin, the Welsh 'Prince of Laughter', will be honoured with a lifetime achievement luncheon at Cardiff's St David's Hotel. The 73-year-old entertainer and pantomime dame is celebrating 55 years in showbusiness. Speakers at the event include Roy Hudd, Jimmy Perry and members of the Variety Club of Great Britain. Funds will go to the Children's Hospital for Wales Appeal.

Bring On The Dames

Its-Behind-You-Dot-Com reports on the whereabouts of those wonderful Dames!

Artistes Venue Pantomime
Frank Williams Ashton-under-Lyme Aladdin
May McFetteridge Belfast Snow White
Johnny Dallas Bexhill Jack & The Beanstalk
Bobby Crush Billingham Dick Whittington
Barry Howard Bournemouth Aladdin
Wyn Calvin Cardiff Peter Pan
Peter John Camberley Snow White
Christopher Biggins Cambridge Jack & The Beanstalk
Dave Lee & Dave Lynn Canterbury Cinderella
Malcolm Boyden Coventry Mother Goose
Bella Emberg & Sue Hodge Crawley Cinderella
Geoffrey Davies Crewe Aladdin
Nigel Ellacott & Peter Robbins Darlington Cinderella
Allan Stewart Edinburgh Dick Whittington
Damian Williams Thameside Theatre, Grays Peter Pan
Clive Rowe Hackney Mother Goose
Darren Johnson Hemel Hempstead Jack & The Beanstalk
Keith Hopkins Hunstanton Cinderella
Freddie Lees Hammersmith Apollo Dick Whittington
Andrew Ryan Hayes, Beck Jack & The Beanstalk
Ronnie Coyles Hull, New Theatre Jack & The Beanstalk
John Fleming Ilford, Kenneth More Dick Whittington
Graham Richards Lewisham Aladdin
Phil Starr & Tommy Osborne Brick Lane, London Aladdin
Jeffrey Holland Newcastle Dick Whittington
Kenneth Alan Taylor Nottingham Playhouse Mother Goose
Roger Bremble Norwich Dick Whittington
Don Maclean Nottingham Royal Jack & The Beanstalk
Simon Bamford Peterborough Aladdin
John Inman Plymouth, Theatre Royal Aladdin
Lily Savage Southampton Snow White
Roy Alvis Southsea Aladdin
Peter Dayson Stafford Dick Whittington
Hinge & Brackett Stafford Dick Whittington
Colin Devereaux Stevenage Snow White
Peter Thorne Sunderland Sleeping Beauty
Gordon & Bunny Jay Telford Cinderella
Darrock & Howe Weston-Super-Mare Cinderella
Roger Kitter Wimbledon Snow White
Jeffrey Longmore Wythenshaw Aladdin
Danny La Rue Woking Cinderella
Brian Godfrey & David Morton Woking Cinderella
Bobby Bennett Wolverhampton Dick Whittington
Stevie Marc & Phil Randall York Opera House Cinderella

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