The day began with a very large car arriving to take me and my over sized costume and headdresses (always take spares in case of strong wind!) at the crack of dawn. Travelled across London to the very sumptuous Petersham Hotel. The Hotel has spectacular views over to the River Thames. No time to admire the view- we had suites (fancy!) to change (I would really like my suite for the run- it’s only a short taxi hop to Stage Door..if you’re listening Beautiful Petersham Hotel..NO? Worth a try!) and transform into Betty Barnum for the photos.
Met up with Charlotte from Crossroads and the lovely marketing Team from the Richmond Theatre, and met Matt Baker-starring as Joey The Clown in our Pantomime. I saw Matt in the same role at the London Palladium in Michael Harrison’s “Goldilocks & The Three Bears”, and delighted to be working with him- I might even learn a few Circus Skills from him- he juggles, he tightrope walks- he’s very limber. I too am flexible. I can do Tuesdays and Thursdays at the bingo.
From Left to Right: Phil Walker (Ringo The Ringmaster) Tamara Morgan (Goldilocks) Nigel Ellacott (Betty Barnum) Matt Baker(Joey The Clown) Jessica Martin(Countess Von Vinkelbottom)
First person I bumped into in the foyer was the gorgeous Jessica Martin . I have know Jessica for a good while- and remember her visiting Gary Wilmot when we worked together, and indeed seeing Jessica & Gary in their wonderful run in “Me & My Girl” in The West End. An amazing impressionist and Musical Theatre leading lady- She is giving her somewhat evil (although she would dispute this) Rival circus owner Countess Von Vinklebottom in the panto, and oh we are going to have such fun feuding!
In the luxury suite, using the marble bathroom as Betty’s Boudoir, delighted to meet Phil Walker, who will be playing our Ringmaster, Ringo! Phil writes, Directs and performs Pantos, when he’s not entertaining and running his Comedy Club near Blackpool. I had to confess to Phil we’d met before- a VERY long time ago, when I worked with his Dad- Roy (Catchphrase) Walker! It was, I blush to say, thirty-four years ago, when Phil was visiting his Dad in “Cinderella”-At The Mayflower Southampton. Roy played The Baron, And I was a ridiculous young Child Prodigy of an Ugly Sister!
We were lucky to have Tamara Morgan, our Goldilocks with us today- she’s currently appearing in a production in the Midlands, and had to dash down and dash back by train to be in time for her evening performance!
Charlotte from Crossroads Pantomimes and the Richmond Theatre team took us for more photos, and a brief taxi ride to the Theatre (if you see what I’m wearing above you can imagine the loading into a black cab scenario- if we weren’t bosom buddies before, we were by the time we got out!
The Theatre is undergoing a very thorough refurb, and luckily the resident Stage Manager was able to let us go on the stage for a few photos. It still has that “rake”, quite a steep rake to the stage, and that undeniable intimacy. The Matcham auditorium just wraps itself around the performers like a warm embrace. I might need a lie down after that last statement!
The absolute highlight of the day was going across the road to Richmond Green to meet the children, parents and performers who were enjoying “Circus Skills” day in the sunshine. Mini stil walking, hula hoops, springboards, those cotton reel thingies you whip up into the air with a skipping rope (very technical Circus talk here) and Balloon modelling, plate spinning- just such fun for all! Matt Baker was straight in, juggling and showing the youngsters how to spin plates- as did Tamara – the children drawn to Goldilocks and her beautiful colourful costume, and had a fun afternoon with The Countess and Betty! we all loved the afternoon!
We look forward to meeting up with that incredible Magician, Phil Hitchcock- Phil was in “Goldilocks” last year at Birmingham and previously, like Matt at The London Palladium “Goldilocks & The Three Bears. What a stunning and totally mystifying act, truly International and can’t wait until the rehearsals! We will also be joined by the Amazing Gordon Marquez- a truly fantastic juggler and star of many a big top and cabaret.
A huge thank you to all at Richmond Theatre for organising today. We returned to do Press interviews and pieces to camera, and when we left Matt was going strong with interviews. We are going to have a great time- lovely show- a first for me- Never appeared in “Goldilocks”, and I’m currently on 48th Panto I believe! Its been a long time since I was at Richmond in Panto (I’ve returned in plays but not Panto) – last here in 1986 with the lovely Anneka Rice!
After a long gap, during which time Pantomimes throughout the country have experienced strange and difficult times, the Pantomime Awards evening was held at The Trafalgar Theatre on Tuesday 19th April.
A red carpet and posh frock event, Headline sponsored by Butlins and with awards sponsored by creatives and companies, brought to the stage by the UK Pantomime Association- formed to explore, share and celebrate pantomime- not just for this night, but for the future, with forthcoming workshops, talks, and special events for a theatrical genre that can now boast (thanks to Staffs University) an MA course in Pantomime!
The evening was hosted as always by Christopher Biggins,
President of the UK Pantomime Association, and a Panto Dame of legend. This year Chris will be appearing as Mrs Smee at the Darlington Hippodrome.
The evening was to celebrate pantomimes throughout the UK, to enjoy the company of Panto Pals that we rarely get to see, and to present some awards.
Andrew Ryan and I were there to present the first award of the Evening, and, as it turned out, I had a VERY surprising and heartwarming evening! More of that in a moment…
There were a total of 27 awards this evening, and I will mention these – the first was presented by Andrew Ryan and myself, to celebrate The Best Ugly Sisters. The nominations and the winners are all to be found on the Pantomime awards website, in our presentation the nominees were Beth Bradley and Paul Toulson (Bracknell), Jimmy Chisholm and Mark Cox (Greenock), Duncan Burt and Nic Gibney (Bath), Robin Simpson and Paul Hawkyard (York Theatre Royal) and Harry Howle and Chris Aukett. (Portsmouth New Theatre).
After playing Ugly Sister for Twenty-Eight Years, and discovering between us Andrew and I have appeared in 83 Pantomimes, it was a great pleasure to announce the winners- Duncan Burt & Nic Gibney Theatre Royal Bath for UK Productions! Congratulations to all nominees and the Winners tonight!
The evening was slick and fast and between the presentations for awards such as Best Dame- Morgan Brind (Derby).
Best Direction – Paul Hendy (Canturbury Evolution), Best Comic- Tam Ryan (Wolverhampton), Best Choreography- Jonny Bowles Belfast Crossroads Pantomimes) and Best Newcomer- Rob Rinder (Bristol Crossroads), there were performances, guest presenters and one big surprise for me.. a total shock..
I won The Outstanding Achievement Award! At the end of the evening the final winners were onstage , and we were sitting at the back of the Circle. I thought I had time to make a dash for the toilet prior to seeing the final award. At that point I was intercepted and told to get down to the auditorium as i was needed… I arrived just in time to hear Chris Biggins say some very lovely words, and I was onstage accepting the award, for which I am truly grateful and extremely gobsmacked to have been honoured with! I really had NO idea this was planned, and my thanks go to the UK Pantomime association for this honour. I am truly privileged.
The next day the Sun reported this and other pantomime awards, and the very moving presentation by Scott Mitchell of an award in his name of his late wife, the legendary Barbara Windsor for Best Principal Boy in Pantomime. Here’s the link to the newspaper article.
I winged my speech, and hope I thanked everyone concerned. This evening has truly been a celebration of the theatre that I live and breathe- Pantomime, and its performers, creatives, writers, costumiers, set designers, stage management and now, thanks to Dr Robert Marsden and Staffordshire Universary, for MA Students of this unique art form. Simon Curtis and its-behind-you.com are at the forefront in bringing Panto to the fore, and I am hugely grateful and proud for what this website has achieved over the past twenty years.
Chris’s words of presentation were very special to me, coming from our Iconic Dame figure. This is a precis of the UK Pantomime Association’s words:
Nigel Ellacott began his career in 1974, an experienced, respected and knowledgeable authority on pantomime, Nigel Ellacott is a talented script writer, costume designer, costume maker , performer and historian. An ambassador for the genre, he has supported many individuals, companies and theatres throughout their careers, as well as inspiring generations of panto lovers through his work and website “its-behind-you.com”
Many thanks too to Ellie Hoskins for the photographs in this article.
The evening had some amazing performances, from the wickedly funny Myra Dubois, to the gorgeous voice of Gracie McGonigal.
A highlight was an extract from the Butlin’s Pantomime company of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, led by the wonderful Dame Michael J Batchelor and Joey Wilby as Joey The Clown. The cast featured Laura Dean Perryman as Goldilocks, with David Sharp, Aisleen Murphy and Jessica Lee as the three bears, with the Ensemble comprising Ellie Carwithen, Dominic Charles, Jordan Declan Field and Kayleigh Patient.
The inclusion of Max Fulham as presenter was very welcomed, bringing his ventriloquism skills to the fore. Last season he was at Bromley with Chris Biggins in Panto.
Awards went to Vikki Stone for Best script (Hammersmith), to Matt Cross for best lighting (Kings Lynn), to Alex Linney, Best Sound (Gaiety Isle of Man), Cleo Pettitt for Best Set design (Watford), to Celia Perkins for Costume Design Aladdin at Oldham Coliseum, the Best Villain was Rolan Bell (Cambridge).
the Carmen Silvera award, presented by Vikki Michelle went to Alexandra Burke for “Aladdin”, Opera House Manchester- Crossroads Pantomimes, and Best Ensemble to Dick Whittington at Guildford, with Best Principal Girl award to Naomi Alade (Oxford)
Best MD award to Jamie Noar for Everyman Liverpool, and Best Supporting artiste Kate Donnachie (Hammersmith Lyric).
The Best Early Career Newcomer was Becca Lee- Isaacs (Huddersfield Robin Hood), To Joe Tracini , To Justin Fletcher & Paul Morse (Balloon Ballet ) and to Justin Brett, Susan Harrison and Ali James for fully improvised Frontcloth executionThe Best Digital Panto went to the New Wolsey Ipswich.
The hotly contested “Best Pantomime ” awards were in three catagories- under 500 seats was Robin Hood at the Liverpool Everyman, the 500-900 seats to”Aladdin” at the Lyric Hammersmith, and the award for the Best Pantomime over 900 seats went to Jack & The Beanstalk at the Marlowe Canturbury (Evolution Productions).
Again, if you’d like to know more about the awards, and the UK Pantomime association, this is their website:
A huge thank you to everyone concerned, and I was truly overwhelmed by the messages I received the following day on Twitter, Facebook and e-mail. A fabulous night celebrating our greatest unique British art form- PANTOMIME! Long may it reign!
The funeral service for Barrie was held at St Paul’s Church, The Actor’s Church,Covent Garden on Wednesday 16th February 2022.
It was, as Barrie would have loved. A full house. Standing ovations, much laughter, and much joy remembering this truly unique and hugely theatrical man. To many of us sitting in the pews he was our first agent. When you arrived in London his office would be the first port of call. He selected you for his books purely and simply on instinct. He rarely, if ever read your CV or made many enquiries. “We don’t need all that stuff, Daughter- we need to get you working!”. To all of us, Male or Female, we were his “Daughters”- I have no idea why, but there was something in the way he exclaimed “Daughter!” as he ran into you that had a touch of Arthur Lucan’s “Old Mother Riley” about it!
Barrie lived for old variety and films- he watched every Hollywood film from the Golden Era and absorbed them. Barrie SAW Hollywood in everything and everyone. His coffin was carried out of the church, after a standing ovation to the voice of Marlene Dietrich singing “See what the boys in the backroom will have”… Just as we entered the church to music from various Children’s shows that Barrie presented over the years to help with “The Handbag” Daughter!
My memories , sitting there with all Barrie’s Daughters- were about the tours we did for him, the jobs we did for him and the many many stories we filed away as “Barrie” stories. The Service was perfect. Under the twinkling eye of the Revd.Richard Syms it was a joyful celebration of Barrie’s life.
Keith Hopkins, Barrie’s partner of a lifetime- over fifty years- organised it as it was to be, a fitting tribute to this funny, camp, warm man who fell in love with Show Business as a child, and kept that love up to his death aged 95.
I have Barrie to thank for introducing me to Peter Robbins. Barrie knew I was looking for a “Sister” to join me in a one off panto at Ilford. He knew his stuff. We did nigh on thirty years! My Brother Vivyan ran the Kenneth More Theatre, he produced that panto, and sat next to me at the service. Keith Hopkins was a Swansea lad, and appeared in some rep plays at The Grand Theatre there, and we have that South Wales connection.
All of us in that Church, and later at the pub.. and even later at the CAA in Bedford Street (Where we rehearsed so many of Barrie’s shows- and some of them were shall we say not lengthy rehearsals!) were remembering the man who brought us all together. A lot of us forty-five odd years later, all saying “You’ve not changed a bit””.
There are too many people to name, so I’ll attempt a few, and apologise for those not mentioned in the hundreds who turned out to see Barrie off. The principal ones to name are Keith of course- known to Panto veterans as Keith ‘Appy Hopkins, Panto Dame for many seasons at Hunstanton, and Summer seasons with Tommy Trafford at Bridlington and Scarborough. Simon Bashford (Panto Dame of long standing) who was a long time friend of Barrie and Keith- he organised so much of the service. Christopher Hare, who gave a funny and affectionate eulogy. Chris ran the Lewisham Theatre for many years, and presented Barrie’s shows, and was his long standing friend. The gorgeous voice of Alexandra Waite-Roberts (Currently in ALW’s “Cinderella”) singing “Over The Rainbow”, and Joshua Lawson’s heartfelt words. It was lovely to see producers Paul Holman, John Newman and Daphne Palmer at the service.
I first met Barrie I think at Swansea rep before I went to college. In those days the rep was weekly, and Barrie used to cast the season for John Chilvers and my Brother Vivyan was John’s assistant manager. I then met Barrie when Keith Salberg was my agent, and he and Barrie would share commissions, often with Jean Charles a fellow agent.
That’s how I ended up in Sweden, paying Barrie split commission, playing piano in the Bachi Wapen club in Stockholm. White suit, tinkly piano and a room called “Albert’s Hall” with mostly very drunk diners!
I still have a letter Barrie sent me. He was busy writing “Oh Camille!” a camp comedy musical at the Arts with Ruth Madoc and Audrey Leybourne starring. It had a mixed reception – at this point Barrie was writing Act Two. “On Act Two of Camille now. It won’t take long. She just coughs a lot….”
I looked around the pews and saw the friends made through Barrie. I call it “Barrie’s web”. He spun a web that made all of us connected to each other through him. As an agent, as a producer, as a friend. It’s a vast web, as he was still involved in his beloved Show Biz up to the end. That’s a lot of people involved in a lot of years of Show.
When Barrie heard I was looking to find an Ugly Sister partner for “Cinderella” at the Kenneth More Theatre in 1981 he had a few thoughts, but he knew that putting Peter & I together on a long day’s commercial for Lager (neither of us touched the stuff!) would give us ample time to see if we got on. It started at 7.30am and with overtime ended at 10pm. By that time we’d worked out entrances, thought up costumes and become the friends we were to remain up until Peter’s death in 2009. Barrie knew people- he KNEW we would be perfect together! Thank you Mr Stacey for those wonderful years.
Peter and I not only played “Sisters” at Christmas, for the rest of the year Barrie put us together as a “Double” in his shows. Peter played Ernst and I played Hansel in “Hansel & Gretel”. (Russell Grant had previously played Hansel, and became a lifelong friend of Barrie’s). The witch had a cat, a feisty assistant-and in those early days Sue Hodge was that feline! We toured in Hansel for many years, with me graduating to Witch when I matured a little! By now Peter Robbins, Andrew Ryan and I were touring regularly on the “Barrie Circuit”.
Peter and I played Fox and Cat in Barrie’s “Pinocchio” over the years- again doing our “Double”, and always putting in “The Echo Gag” , our favourite routine. Lorinda King was a frequent “Pinocchio”, and our pupetteers were often Jo Castleton and Zimon Drake. It was lovely to see them both at the service and catch up afterwards.
Jo has recently been playing Rose Narracott in “War Horse” in the UK and Australia, and appeared as Siobhan in “The Curious incident of the dog” in London’s West End. She was with her writer and producer husband Duncan MacInnes- his first theatre appearance was in a Barrie Stacey Show, in Hull!
Barrie always had puppets in his shows- Andrew, Peter & I created “PAN PUPPETS” for Barrie- Our names making up the title- clever stuff! The Puppets were always UV, and over the years the puppets were often created and performed by Sue Dacre & Chris Covington . Sue & Chris sat behind me at the service . Pom Pom Puppets were courtesy of Madam Pom Pom, or Alexandra Dane as we called her.
Today a plethora of Panto Dames were at St Paul’s: Keith, Simon, David Rumelle, Marc Seymour, Ben Roddy, Damian Williams, Michael Garland, Patrick Kearns and myself to name but a few. Andrew Ryan and Chris Hayward were unable to attend. A clutch of Dames in fact!
I often costumed Barrie’s shows over the years- “Wizard Of Oz”, “Pinocchio” and “Hansel”, as well as a “David Copperfield” production out of Crewe Lyceum, when Barrie ran the theatre for a while.
We had sandwiches at the CAA. That is important, as anyone who knew Barrie will understand. Barrie upon arriving in London from his family home in Boscombe, was to own the “As You Like It” café in the heart of London’s Denmark Street. Frequented by the bohemian and the casual passers by, it soon became the hub of “who is casting what” in the West End. Quentin Crisp was an early patron. The “Naked Civil Servant” was a regular.
That might explain why I randomly ended up sharing a car to Blackpool wedged between Barrie and Quentin Crisp. From Charing Cross to Blackpool – to appear in The Kathy Kirby show on the pier. A one night Barrie variety show.
Mr Crisp wasn’t in the show- I have no idea why he was in the car- but once we’d set up and I had sorted my dots with David Carter and Perry Clayton, and put on my sequinned Piano act suit, Barrie got the news that Kathy Kirby had been arrested in the Barbican- a fracas with her Mother I believe?- and back to London we went!
Barrie not only made sandwiches for the café, he was of course an impresario- he made sandwiches for his resting actors to deliver to stage doors across the West End! Delivering food for between shows, and gathering gossip and information. “So and so is leaving the show. There’s a vacancy coming up…”
Legend has it Barrie dispatched a lad to deliver a sandwich to Hollywood star Betty Grable at the Palace Theatre between shows. He later returned to ask for the wrapper. “It’s ok honey. It’s in the trash can”. “Ah.But Barrie wrote a telephone number on it , for a casting”. Miss Grable duly retrieved it!
At Crewe Barrie not only ran the theatre, but did good business with a café upstairs, and for a while commuted to Ilford to run a buffet there pre show. Always a success, and always with a singer and a pianist to entertain before the curtain went up.
My touring family for Barrie included Peter Jameson, Julie Faye, Julie Fox along with Adrian Jeckells , Lorinda King, Scott Howard, Zimon, Jo, Michael Morgan, Lewis Phillips, Vivienne McMaster, Laura Nayman, Virginia Graham, Maggie Beckitt and so many others. Petrina Derrington, Debbie King, Sarah Whitlock, Sylvia Carson, and Audrey Leybourne were there- Audrey was a friend of Barrie’s since early rep days, and through her days as a “Roly Poly” with Les Dawson- I grew up watching Audrey in Swansea rep. So lovely to see there today too!
From “Jungle Book”, “Snow White” and “Wizard of Oz”, through to “Hansel” and “Pinocchio”, we were all represented in St Paul’s today. The off sales were of the utmost importance to Barrie. He manned the Front Of House stalls before, during and after the shows. Flashing wands, Balloons, Witches Fingers (That always puzzled me. I played Witch and didn’t think my fingers were worthy of an offsale?) Often Peter Robbins and I would visit Barrie’s table during the second act of “Pinocchio” on a Saturday and leave with our wages in carrier bags. “Coinage Daughters! Is that all right?” Oh it was Barrie. It was!
There were tributes at the service to Barrie’s Ladies- his star turns who he adored. Jessie Mathews, the first British film star to go transatlantic was represented in her songs, played as we entered. “Over my shoulder goes one care”.. Barrie presented her in her own show many times, and as a double bill with June Bronhill.
I was always delighted to be in a Variety show with Ruby Murray for Barrie, and he presented Kathy Kirby (although not at Blackpool), Diana Dors,and Coronation’s Street’s Liz Dawn. We did The John Hanson show several times together, and The Bob Monkhouse shows, as well as being in his shows with Frankie Howerd, Tommy Trinder and Billy Burdon.
Barrie presented his friend Quentin Crisp at The Duke Of Yorks, following his West End show “With A Little Help From My Friends” at the same venue. He also presented the American Female Impersonator Jim Bailey at The London Palladium.
Birthday Parties at Barrie and Keith’s flat in Charing Cross Road were memorable. His West End To Broadway show and his Jerome Kern shows were employing talented singers who were also his clients across the country. Barrie DID find us the work he promised when we first visited his offices.
Barrie wrote several books about the days of the “As You Like It” café, and his career in “The Biz”-from the 1940’s through- “A Ticket To The Carnival” and “Life Upon The Very Wicked Stage” and “One leaf left on the Old Oak Tree”.
Over the years a succession of cats, all called “Maud” helped Barrie in the office on Charing Cross Road. Maud Poppysocks III being the most recent!
At the Service was Nick James and Paul Giddings. Nick represents to me the most recent of Barrie’s proteges- He is current performing as an actor with the Royal Ballet. He originally got the job through Barrie, and through Barrie performed pantos with us at the Kenneth More. His current job courtesy of the gentleman we came to honour at St Paul’s today.
Barrie’s web was a wide web. All of us in that church have that connection. An extended Stacey family. He was outrageous, he was theatrical , he was someone who saw you as one of his stars- what more could you possibly ask of him? Barrie Stacey- you have left a legacy behind you- a packed church full of people working in the business because of you. You bequeathed us that joy of theatre. Bless you Barrie, you are much loved!
So, here we are- a matter of a few weeks and rehearsals begin for this, my 47th Pantomime! I thought a few pre-production notes for this Dame’s Diary, if only to prove that a Panto is not just for Christmas, it’s for life!
In fact, this year the Panto has a new life- a new name- we said farewell to Qdos Pantomimes, and Hello to Crossroads Pantomimes. A new office and a new logo, and the shows go on- our Performance Diary is filling up with signed off posters as we speak!
Talking of posters, during the late Summer I went up to Hull to do a photo shoot and press call for this season’s “Snow White”. Here are a few pictures of the day- a day in which Faye, Neil and I planted an apple tree (“Snow white”.. apple.. get it?) in the square opposite the New Theatre.
A great opportunity to meet up with fellow Panto performers before rehearsals. Faye I already know, in fact we spent a very jolly New Year’s Eve together with the Hippodrome Company 2019. Faye is currently appearing as the infamous Roxie Hart in “Chicago”, right up to when rehearsals begin in late November.
Neil I’ve not met before, but of course in this niche world of Beanstalks, Magic Lamps and Crystal slippers, we know of each other. Panto is one very extended family!
The statue of Singer & Panto Star David Whitfield, outside “The New”.
What HAS changed at the theatre is that everything from the ornate proscenium arch back, has been demolished since I was last here! Backstage and indeed onstage at the New by 2014 was pretty much in need of a major refurbishment- and 16 million pounds later, it is spick and span! Gone are the unusual “on stage” flys, where the flymen would operate the fly ropes from stage level. Now the more traditional “Fly Gallery” is installed.
The Dressing rooms are now more spacious,still below stage level, and its pretty daunting to discover a maze of corridors, when my brain is trying to remember the “old” set up! Back in 2014 I was just by the stairs leading up to stage right.
The Front of house extension is impressive. There’s a large foyer and bar, with entrances to the auditorium on the right, lifts, offices and a lot of light and space. Backstage the stalls bar I remember is now a studio. We had a great afternoon doing publicity shots for the show, and getting a grand tour of the building. While I was there I sorted out my accommodation, one hotel for rehearsals in a nearby hall in Hull, and another for the run. The script has had some tweaks, I’ve got my costumes sorted and getting ready to head up to Hull in November, and looking forward to my 47th panto in a row. I was so fortunate last year to do a panto- a week’s rehearsal and ten days playing before the theatres closed, and we went into the lockdown. Mine was three minutes walk away, and in my second home, The Kenneth More Theatre, and again the panto was “Snow White”.
The Panto THIS year at the Kenneth More Theatre is “Cinderella”.Vision RCL is presenting the Pantomime , withGareth Morley, Sally Polden and Gemma Eves producing , Sue Colgrave will be directing, and Owen Smith Choreographing. It’s proving panto isn’t just for Christmas again, as I have been involved with it since the late spring- through lockdown and beyond. I’ve written the panto for VISION RCL ( I think it must be the 30th I’ve written for this theatre,) and costumed it from scratch.For the first time in forty odd years, I started with a clean slate, and no in house stock to supplement as in former Pantos I’ve designed.
The costume process began at a difficult time- all the shops were closed, and fabric shopping in my favourite street, Goldhawk Road was not to be. Thanks to the amazing powers of the Genie- WhatsApp and Facetime, the fabrics were bought from the shop I know and trust, and soon the designs were done, the makers tipped off to clear their cutting tables, and we were off!
During the summer the designs and fabrics have been sent to the skilled makers. The difference for me this year is that the measurements were done via zoom, and sometimes costumes were sent to the performer’s home to try on, also on zoom! From Manchester to Ireland, Wales and Newcastle the fabrics and costmes have criss-crossed the UK. The laundry/wardrobe at the KMT is now beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
As things eased we’ve been able to accommodate fittings, with a safe environment, and Shirley Davis has produced some stunning hats for the show- shoes have arrived daily, and despite hold ups in containers and fuel shortages the costumes and accessories are starting to fill up the once empty rails! Lauren Skinner is in most days creating some stunning scenery, and Ben Ward in charge of stage.
It has been so good during this summer to go into work (that three minute walk is exhausting) and work in the wardrobe where I’ve been most Summers over the past thirty plus years .
I’ve costumed The “Sisters” finally- they have a few headdresses to go, but mainly they are finished. The Ensemble Ballgowns and Finale costumes are underway, Karl Greenwood’s Buttons costumes are with him in Manchester, and Muire McCallion’s Fairy Godmother is a confection of pink and sequin!
The costumes are mounting up- we have seven principals, four Ensemble and a juvenile chorus of eight- so I’ve got nearly twenty performers to supply with a number of changes- the finale is gold and red, and the transformation scene has a few tricks up its fairy sleeve! So, for the next month I’ll be learning my lines for Hull, making certain my frocks are in order, and finishing off my work on the Panto at Ilford, before handing over the supervising to Molly Sheehan. After working all Summer on the costumes, I’ll just about get a chance to see the show after Hull’s season ends!
Anna was a friend and a neighbour. She and her late Husband Terry Duggan were involved in many shows at their local theatre, The Kenneth More in Ilford. Anna and Terry’s long friendship with Barbara Windsor and her husband Scott was one that spanned many years and many television appearances together.
Having celebrated her birthday on September 19th 2021 Anna Karen passed away on the 22nd February 2022.
Anna Karen was known to television viewers as “Olive” from “On The Buses” and as “Aunt Sal”, Sister of Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor, her best mate ) in Eastenders. Anna had a long career in Television, Film and Theatre, including appearing in over Twenty-seven Pantomimes across the country. She has toured in stage shows in Canada and Australia, appeared in Summer seasons as well as regularly touring the UK’s theatres.
She has appeared in three of the top rated television series-LWT’s “On The Buses” , (1969- 1973) “The Rag Trade” (1977-1978) and BBC’s “Eastenders”, (between 1996 and 2017). She appeared in the films “Carry On Camping” in 1969, “Carry On Loving” in 1970 and in the three feature film versions “On The Buses” (1971), “Mutiny On The Buses” (1972) and “Holiday On The Buses” (1973). Later film appearances included “Beautiful Thing” appearing as neighbour Marlene in 1996.
The character she created – Olive, sister of Stan (Reg Varney) wife of Arthur (Michael Robbins) and daughter of Mum, (Cicely Courtneidge and then Doris Hare) played for 74 episodes and she was taken to the public’s hearts- along with her much quoted catchphrase, “Ohh Arthur!”, so much so that her character Olive moved sit-coms when she joined the cast of “The Rag Trade” for twenty-two episodes.
Anna Karen , with her East End accent was, in fact, born in Durban, South Africa as Ann McCall. Her Father was Irish, her Mother English. She appeared in productions in South Africa before moving to London aged 17 and enrolling in The London School of Dramatic Art.
To pay for her classes, and her shared flat in Paddington, she worked as a comic’s feed for Dickie Arnold at London’s Panama Theatre Club , in Gt Windmill Street, Soho. Dickie Arnold was later to achieve fame in the TV Series “All Creatures Great & Small”. The Panama was“Non-Stop Revue” from 1.30pm to 10.30pm every day.
Anna embarked on “ Naughty But Nice” style Variety Shows around the country – in 1960 she toured in “Eve Started It!” with Syd and Max Harrison. By 1962 Anna was in the “The fantabulous show “ (she performed an act with giant ostrich feather fans!) in a West End Mayfair floorshow .
In 1967 she married Terry Duggan a popular comedian and character actor, and over the years they made several appearances together both on television and in Pantomimes and Summer Seasons. They were a perfect double act both on and off the stage and screen.
ANNA KAREN- “ON THE BUSES”
Anna had appeared on BBC Television in 1968-1969 as Maud in “Wild Wild Women”, a Sit-Com by Ronald Wolfe and Ronald Chesney. It starred Barbara Windsor as Millie, alongside Penelope Keith, Pat Coombes, Toni Palmer, Derek Francis amongst others. These writers had created the earlier “Rag Trade” for The BBC. “Wild Women” was a period version of “Rag Trade” set in an Edwardian Milliners shop. It ran for seven episodes.
On the strength of “Wild Wild Women” Anna was cast as Olive Rudge in Wolfe & Chesney’s new sit com “On The Buses” in 1969. Anna become a part of the family, firstly with veteran actress Cicely Courtneidge as her Mother, Mabel Butler for Series I, then Doris Hare for Series 2-7).
Set in Luxton, and on the Number 11 bus, Olive and husband Arthur (Michael Robbins) lived at home with Mum, Bus Driver Brother Stan Butler (Reg Varney- a veteran of the first “Rag Trade” series in 1961), and the family congregated at the Luxton Bus Company depot where Stan and his mate Jack (Bob Grant) had frequent run-ins with Inspector Blakey (Catchphrase “I ‘Ate You Butler!”) played by Stephen Lewis. Anna’s husband Terry Duggan made appearances on the Television series, and played Nobby in the cinema version.
To play Olive – once described by Anna as “The World’s ugliest woman!) she put on the thick pebble glasses, and a wig which was flat on top as well as copious amounts of padding, and remained in it as a national icon for seven series, three feature films and stage versions.
At its height LWT’s “On The Buses” was watched regularly by 16 Million viewers. (It once reached 21 Million viewers one week).
From the early 1970’s Anna and often Terry Duggan appeared in Pantomimes across the country. Anna was usually Fairy Olive, or Fairy Godmother, with the occasional appearance as Empress of China, Nurse. She has a fondness for Rhyl in North Wales, and panto bedside the seaside. She appeared in one of her first pantos for Granada Cinemas- the last time that Cinema chain presented live Pantomime, a tradition producer Joe Collins (Father of Joan) had kept up throughout the 50’s and ‘60’s. Here are Anna’s Pantomimes, fitted in between filming, Summer Seasons and tours throughout a long career.
1973-74 Cinderella. East Ham Granada. This was Anna’s Pantomime debut. It was also the pantomime debuts of Tony Blackburn, Anne Aston and David Barry.
The Cast: Tony Blackburn (Buttons) Anna Karen (Fairy Godmother), Anne Aston (Cinderella) David Barry, with Terri Gardener and Hugh Futcher (The Ugly Sisters), Valentine Dyall (Baron), Kay Barwick (Prince Charming), Diane Marie Lally (Dandini) Directed by Ralph Reader, Presented by Bill Kenwright and pop producer Eddie Tre-Vett. From 23rd December 1973 to 19th January 1974.
Anna was filming “On the Buses” in her role as Olive, and was booked to play “Fairy Olive” at the Granada. She joined Tony Blackburn, who played Buttons, and Anne Aston, from “The Golden Shot” as Cinderella. Playing the role of Baron Hardup was the veteran actor, famed as “The man in Black”, Valentine Dyall. The Ugly Sisters were played by Terry Gardener and Hugh Futcher.
Anna recalls “we had two weeks rehearsals for the show. I had been booked by Bill Kenwright for the panto at East Ham. It was directed by Ralph Reader….”
Ralph Reader, famous for his “Gang Shows” had previously starred in a Granada pantomime in 1948
Anna’s memories of the East Ham Granada Theatre were that they played to capacity houses..”Business was really great, and I was rebooked the following year,for Streatham, along with Tony Blackburn, Hugh Futcher and Monica Dell. The stage area and dressing rooms were in a terrible state- we ended up cleaning the place before the dress rehearsal.”
Anna remembers the crew at East Ham vividly…”They were all dockers, working shifts, then coming into the Theatre to do the shows. One day they just upped and left. Went on strike, leaving just one called “Boiler”. He stayed, and along with Terry (Terry Duggan, Anna’s husband) they held the show together until we got more crew in the following night..”
Anna also recalls the scenery collapsing on Tony Blackburn..” It fell down, all around him while he was singing..” but being Panto, it was all part of the fun for the packed house. The season ended on the 19th January, 1974, and The last of the Granada Cinema Pantomimes.
1974-75 Cinderella. Odeon Streatham.), Tony Blackburn (Buttons) Anna Karen (Fairy Godmother) Tessa Wyatt (Cinderella), Joan Savage (Dandini) , Monica Dell (Prince), Horace Mashford (Baron), Donald Hewlett & Michael Knowles (Brokers men) Terry Dennis & Hugh Futcher (The Ugly Sisters). Produced by Bill Kenwright and David Gordon. The Pantomime ran for three hours, and the vast auditorium had no microphones. Anna Karen in the review was described as “blissfully audible”. It ran from December 23rd to January 11th 1975.
1976 February 2nd for two weeks:King’s Theatre, Southsea, and at Boreham Wood in Elstree.
Goldilocks & The Three Bears. Anna Karen , Steve King (Simple Simon),Mike Onions (Dame) Pam & Mel Wingfield (Goldilocks & Prince), Joy Pett, Valerie Pett & Gerry Alexander (The Three Bears), Johnny St.Ledger (Demon) , Cricks Canine Wonders & The Coronet Dancers. Produced by Duggie Chapman.
1976-77 The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe. Weymouth Pavilion. Anna Karen, Johnny Dallas (as Old Mother Hubbard) Pauline Kaye, Brian Weston,Syd Jackson & Dick Collins and Michael Swann. For Philip Bernard Prods (Aubrey Phillips)
1977-78 The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe. Leamington Spa and short tour.
Anna Karen (Fairy Olive), Aubrey Phillips (Dame), Syd Jackson & Dick Collins (King Cole & Simple Simon), David Rome, Renee Bourne Webb, Trevor Baily, Newton Wills and Debbie Oates. For Philip Bernard Prods (Aubrey Phillips).
1978-79 Jack & The Beanstalk. Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham. Leslie Crowther, Arthur Askey,(Martha Trot) Mark Wynter,(Jack) Jimmy Edwards,(King) Robert Aldous (Fleshcreep), Anna Karen.(Fairy), Margo Harris (Princess) For Duncan C Weldon, Triumph Theatre Productions. Directed by Roger Redfarn. Designed by Terry Parsons. This pantomime broke all box office records, and had the largest box office advance in the theatre’s history.
1979-80 Dick Whittington. Princes Hall Aldershot. Anna Karen (Olive, The Cook)) Ken Joy, Terry Duggan, Jenny Kenna, Michael Lomax, Bolly The Clown. Directed by Jill Fletcher. Produced by Lisa Barron for Bunny Barron.
1982-83 Dick Whittington . Nell Gwyn Hereford. Anna Karen (Fairy) Dave Peters, Lex Daye (Dame) Terry Duggan (Alderman) Angela Webb, Janet Edis. Philip Bernard Prods (Aubrey Phillips).
1984-85 Robin Hood.Cardiff New Theatre. Stu Francis,(Will Scarlett), Ruth Madoc, (Robin Hood) Anna Karen,(Dame Dierdrie) Kim Braden,(Marion) Douglas Fielding, (Sheriff) Maurice Thorogood, Douglas Anderson.Gareth Jefferson (Alan A Dale) . Four original songs by Bobby Crush. For Peter Lea & Clive Hicks Jenkins. Cardiff New Theatre Trust.
1985-86 Jack & The Beanstalk. Orchard Theatre Dartford. Bobby Davro, Anna Karen,(Vegetable Fairy) Fred Feast, Natalie Forbes, Ronne Coyles (Dame) Caro Gurney, Kenneth Oxtoby, Nigel Miles Thomas, Directed by Duggie Chapman. This was Bobby Davro’s Pantomime debut.
1986-87 Aladdin. Shaw Theatre London. Norman Beaton,(Twankey) Anna Karen (Empress) Jim Dunk (Abanazar),Richard Rees (Wishee Washee), Debby Bishop (Aladdin) Richard Tate & Bill Thomas (Chinese Policemen), Jo Warne (Genie).Directed by Ben Benison. (Written by Terry Duggan).
1988-1989 Jack & The Beanstalk. De Montford Hall, Leicester. Bernard Bresslaw (Dame Durden),Anna Karen (Witch), Barry Cryer (King),Kenny Cantor (Muddles) Jill Nalder (Jack),Taryn Kaye (Princess), Pat Roach & Tony Wadsworth (Henchmen), Fyfe Sinclaire (Giant) Andrew Buttery & Brent Haddon (Daisy The Cow).For Kenny Cantor Productions.
Jill Nalder, Welsh actress, singer, and principal Boy in many pantomimes is the inspiration behind the character Jill Baxter in Channel 4’s series “It’s A Sin”.
1989-90 Cinderella. Darlington Civic . Jimmy Cricket (Buttons), Chuckles Brothers, (Brokers Men) Anna Karen (Fairy Godmother) Nikki Ellen,(Cinderella), Anne Duval,(Prince Charming), Chris Hayward & Simon Bashford ( Ugly Sisters) Lyn & Mal Malyn (Dandini & Baron). For Nick Thomas.
In 1990 Anna Karen was made Queen Ratling of the Grand Order of Lady Ratlings, the charitable theatrical foundation. Husband Terry Duggan was invested as “Baby Rat” into the Grand Order of Water Rats.
1990-91 Cinderella. Arena St. Albans. Adam Woodyatt (Buttons), Cheryl Baker (Cinderella), Anna Karen (Fairy Godmother), Brian Cant (Baron), Guido Omissi & Russell Labey (The Ugly Sisters), Zoe Nicholas (Prince) and Sophie Hart (Dandini). Sophie carrying on a show business tradition set by her parents Ronnie Corbett & Anne Hart. Produced by Nick Thomas and Jon Conway.
1991-92 Cinderella. Lewisham Theatre. Timmy Mallet (Buttons) Brian Cant (Baron) Anna Karen (Fairy Godmother) David Karl (Dandini),Chris Nichol (Prince), Zoe Nicholas (Cinderella), Guido Omissi & Russell Labey (The Ugly Sisters), Alison Cowen, Denise Rainger, Jane Vatcher, Vanessa Leclrq, Trisha Darnes Penny Farthings, Jim Clubb’s Eskimo Dogs. Directed by Brian Cant. For Nick Thomas & Jon Conway. December 23rd to January 19th 1992.
1993-94 Dick Whittington. Eastbourne Devonshire Park. Kathy Staff,(Alderwoman Fitzwarren), Peter Duncan,(Dick), Anna Karen (Fairy Bow Bells), Graham James (Sarah The Cook), Andy Cunningham (Capt Bodger & Mate Badger),Emma Morgan (Cat), Sophia Winter (Alice), Steven Spiers (King Rat), Mark Channon and Peter Davies. Directed by Peter Duncan. John Leslie replaced Peter Duncan during the run, due to filming commitments.
1992-93 Dick Whittington. Woodville Halls Neil Buchanan, Anna Karen (Fairy Godmother) Michael Knowles(Alderman),, Paul Harris.(Dame), Bev Berridge, Julie Spillers, Sarah Peterson, Carl Trevors, Ian Stanley. Directed by Bev Berridge for John Spillers. December 19th -January 9th 1993.
1996-97 Cinderella. Princes Hall, Aldershot. Anna Karen (Fairy Godmother) Robert Hopkins, Ricky Diamond,(Buttons & Braces), Lesley Young (Cinderella), Liberty Mounten (Prince) Steve Christie (Dandini), Paul Gruner (Baron), Alan Atkins & David Horne (The Ugly Sisters).( In this production the Prince was played by an Elvis Impersonator.)
1997-98 Mother Goose. St. Helen’s Theatre Royal. Anna Karen (Mother Goose), Mathew Roper (Matt Goose), Iain Thompson (Colin), Lorraine Lisbon (Witch), Amelia Jayne Stephens (Jill), Michael Fraser (Mayor), Nicola Gossip, Beth Cowan (Fairy), Priscilla The Goose- Julie Newton Mercer / Laura Brooks. Directed by Gordon Pleasant. MD Peter Faint. For Pantoworld.Ltd. December 13th 1997-January 4th 1998.
1998-99 Cinderella. Pavilion Rhyl. Dominic Wood (Buttons) Robert Fyfe (Baron), Anna Karen (Fairy Godmother), Maureen Nolan (Cinderella), Andrea Poyser (Prince), Tom Bright & John Peate (The Ugly Sisters). For UK Productions.
1999-2000 Dick Whittington. Blackpool Grand . Ben Shepherd, (Idle Jack) Anna Karen (Fairy) Debbie McAndrew(Dick), Michael Knowles (Alderman), Tom Bright (Dame),Beverley Worboys (Alice), John Peate (Captain), Natalie Cole (Cat).Directed by Tom Bright for UK Productions.
2000-2001 Cinderella. Palace Mansfield. Ian Mercer,(Buttons), Anna Karen,(Fairy Godmother) Casey-Lee Jolleys, Sarah Louise Day, Bobbie Kent & Jamie Morris.(The Ugly Sisters). Directed by Julian Woolford. UK Productions. December 11th– January 12th 2001.
2001-02 Dick Whittington. Bournemouth Pavilion Wayne Sleep (Dame) Sid Owen, Anna Karen (Fairy) Rik Gaynor, Barrie Daniels, Natalie Cole, Harry Dickman,Karen Roberts, Mike Jerome, Directed by Simon Rawlins. Musical Director Roy Hilton. For UK Productions
2002-03 Dick Whittington. Festival Theatre, Malvern. Paul Bradley, John Forgeham, Anna Karen,(Fairy) Graham Seed, Trevor Harrison, Colin Roberts, Kate Weston, Rachel Mulcahy, Margaret Strange. Directed by Simon Rawlins. UK Productions.
2005-06 Dick Whittington. Anvil Basingstoke. Barney Harewood, Richard Calkin, Anna Karen,(Fairy) Tania Whatley, Steve Hewlett & Pongo, Stephen David,(Dame) Barry Daniels, Danielle Murphy. Directed by Jon Emmanuel, Choreography by Tracey Illiffe. UK Productions.
2006-07 Dick Whittington. Pavilion Rhyl. Anna Karen,(Fairy) Ken Morley, Rik Gaynor, Iain Rogerson, Tara Bethan, Nick Wilton (Dame), Nigel Harvey, Grace Harrington, Chris Gage. Directed by Rik Gaynor. UK Productions.
2008-09 Cinderella. Millfield Edmonton. Anna Karen, (Baroness Saloliveina), Bridie Rowe, (Cinderella) Stewart Charlesworth, (Prince)Ben Redfern, (Buttons) Paul St.James & Daryl Branch,(Ugly Sisters) Andrew Gowland. (Dandini) Harriette Blackler (Fairy Godmother) with Katy Glover, Emma Nightingale, Luke Bohanna, Dominic MCarpenter and Bjorn Lonngren.Marc Day for Millfield Theatre, Directed by Andrew Wright.
ANNA KAREN- EASTENDERS
Anna played the part of Aunt Sal in Eastenders. Sal is the older sister of Peggy Mitchell, and Aunt to the Mitchells Phil and Grant. Her role was announced in February 1996. Anna said at the time “It’s great to be back on the box, and a real treat to be working alongside my old mate” (Barbara Windsor).
Anna made recurring appearances in the BBC Series from 1996-97, again in 2002-2004, and again in 2007-2013. By 2017 Anna had appeared in over 57 episodes- usually causing trouble, comforting Peggy or on one occasion livening things up with her fire-eating act.
Anna really could fire eat! In the Variety shows she and Terry Duggan appeared in she had performed a Fire Eating Act, a Memory Act (genuine- I assisted her with this amazing feat of memorising objects called out by the audience) and Music Hall turns as Florrie Forde, or Nelly Wallace. Her rendition of “Always look under the bed”, and “Why am I always the Bridesmaid” in the persona of Olive always got a great reaction. One of thefew times Peter Robbins and I did our “Sisters” in a variety show, Anna was Fairy in our Panto sketch, and Terry did his very clever” Drunk Act.”
Anna Appeared in Carry On Camping with her mate Barbara Windsor in 1969, both of them playing schoolgirls at “Chayste Place”, aged 31 and 32!
This film featured the iconic scene when Barbara’s bra flies off, hitting Kenneth Williams in the face as Matron Hattie Jacques look on-This June (2021) that bikini set from the film was sold at auction for a staggering £9,500 with the proceeds going to the Alheimers Society.
Anna also made an appearance in “Carry On Loving” (1970) and after the huge success of “On The Buses” made three films “On The Buses” (1971
, “Mutiny On The Buses” (1972) and “Holiday On The Buses” (1973), this last film also featured “Steptoe” Wilfrid Bramble and Anna’s friend Kate Williams.
Anna appeared in over a dozen feature films, including playing Marlene in “Beautiful Thing” in 1996.
Anna’s early experiences of theatre began touring in the popular “Naught But Nice” Variety revues that boasted saucy titles. Her first was “Eve Started it!”, and Anna started it in March 1960 at the Liverpool Pavilion!
In 1977 Anna gave an interview to the Daily Mirror talking about her days as a stripper:
“It was an honest way to make a living, and I was never ashamed of it. Mind you, it wasn’t full frontal in those days. We had little stars over the important bits”
In the billing for these shows Anna is described as “Scandinavia’s Gorgeous Nordic Strip Queen!”. I asked Anna in August 2021 how this came about- she replied “My agent suggested it- I was already blonde- she said ‘you get a tenner more if you’re foreign.’
“Here is a typical touring schedule :
March 1960 Liverpool Pavilion. “Eve Started it” with Vi Tye, Anna Karen, Syd and Max Harrison, Ray Stevens, David Galbraith, Earl & Edgar, Frank & Maisie, Momford’s Puppet Parade, Alicia Dells, Jimmy Kidd & June.
Syd & Max Harrison,(Brothers) were the Fathers of Mike Hope &Albie Keen, comedians. Hope & Keen presented the finest cod duelling scene in Pantomimes across the country. June Kidd later teamed up with son Paul to appear as Pantomime Cow speciality in pantomimes.
April 1960 Alhambra Bradford. “Parisienne Capers” with Tassie & Diana and Anna Karen.
April 1960 Queens Theatre Blackpool with Syd and Max Harrison, Anna Karen and The Falcons (Eddie & Eileen)
April 1960 City Varieties Leeds. With Alan Wells, Joy Martell and Anna Karen.
May 1960 Royalty Theatre Chester. “Striptease Vanities”, With Harry Bailey, “King Of The Blarney”, Danny Purches, and Anna Karen, with Barrie’s Dogs, and Buckmaster’s Puppets
In October Anna had finished the tour and was resident in Soho once again, appearing in Rico Dajou’s Mayfair floorshow “Saucy Lovers”- a “Fan Tabulous Show”- mainly due to Anna’s act with giant ostrich feather fans- think “Gypsy Rose Lee”! The floorshow/cabaret was choreographed by Tommy Shaw , who appeared as “Tommy Shaw and his boys”. (Two years later Tommy choreographed the annual BBC Pantomime in 1962.)
Anna appeared with Lucky McKenzie “Saucy but Lovable” Anna Karen, Margherita Lopez, Pauline Hartwell and Anne Bullen.
ANNA KAREN- ON TOUR
Anna was later to tour in plays, comedies and thrillers throughout the length and breadth of the country, with some Summer Seasons in the UK, as well as appearing onstage in Victoria, Vancouver and Toronto in the 1980’s. She often toured and appeared with Husband Terry Duggan, and with cast members from “On The Buses”.
The list of plays is a very full one- here are just some of her Theatre appearances over the years, and a few of her co-stars.
1971 Harvey Richmond Theatre, London. Harry Worth, Kathleen Harrison, Tim Barrett, Anna Karen, Rose Hill, Ken Thornett, Janet Mahoney, Anthony Woodruff and Geoffrey Lumsden. For Paul Elliott & Duncan C Weldon, Triumph Productions.
1972Stop It Nurse Windmill Great Yarmouth. Anna Karen with Bob Grant, Stephen Lewis, , Terry Duggan, Ann Emery, Beau Daniels, Dierdre Dee, Shirley Stanwell, Brenda Somers and Peter Vernon. Produced by Bill Roberton.
1973 The Busman’s Holiday . Summer season at Torquay. Anna Karen, Stephen Lewis and Bob Grant.
1974 Who Goes Bare! Anna Karen, Dave King, Valentine Dyall, Terry Duggan. Touring & Nottingham.
1974 Not Now Darling Anna Karen, George Baker, Ian Lavender,Jenny Hanley with Shaun Curry, Mildred Mayne, Margaret Inglis, Earl Robinson, Penny Barber. (This tour also played the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Theatre at Stratford Upon Avon)
1974 “Package Honeymoon” Devonshire Park Eastbourne. Anna Karen and Bob Grant. Written by Bob Grant and produced by Charles Vance. A comedy set in a Spanish Hotel.
1975 “Another Bride” – The Wedding Show Anna Karen, Terry Duggan, Hugh Futcher, Benny Lee. Tara Hotel London for a season.
The Bed before Yesterday– Anna Karen , Gary Taylor, Daphne Palmer, John Griffiths, Peter Dayson for Newpalm Productions.
1984 Steaming Anna Karen as Dawn, Eve Bland as Josie, Helen Gill, Claire Kelly and Terry Duggan. National Tour.
1988 Who Goes Bare! Anna Karen, Linda Lusardi, Trevor Bannister, Melvyn Hayes. Alexandra Birmingham & Tour.
1989 Doctor On The Boil Anna Karen, Peter Denyer, Gary Hailes, Paul Laidlaw, Anthony Mayne, Caroline Dennis and Amanda Kirby. Theatre Royal Margate.
1989 The Birth Of Merlin Roy Hudd, Anna Karen, directed by Denise Coffey for Theatr Clwyd, Mold.
1991 Noises Off. Anna Karen as Dottie Otley, with Roy North, Lynette McMorrow and Frederick Pyne.Grand Theatre Blackpool.
1992 Bazaar & Rummage Jill Gascoigne, Anna Karen, Sophie Lawrence, Debbie Arnold, Genevieve Walsh, Diane Axford. Directed by Richard Haddon.New Theatre Hull & National Tour.
1992 The Late Edwina Black Anna Karen, Lorraine Chase, David Banks, Bruce James. Southsea Kings. Alexander Bridge.
1993 Watch It Sailor! Anna Karen, Hugh Lloyd, Brian Cant, Josephine Tewson, Sally Ann Mathews. Theatre Clwyd, Mold.
1993 When Did You Last See Your Trousers? Anna Karen, Linda Lusardi, Arthur Bostrom, Hilary Minster, John D Collins. Beck Hayes & Tour.
1994 Sailor Beware! Anna Karen as Emma Hornett, David Callister, Claire Fisher. Gaiety Theatre, Isle Of Man.
1995 Straight & Narrow Anna Karen, Damian Williams, Nick Barclay, Nicola Boyce, Deborah Karen, Alan Terry, Patrick Kearns.
1997 The Farnsdale Avenue…..Murder Mystery Anna Karen, Josie Kidd, Larry Dann, Patricia Samuels. Hornchurch Queen’s Theatre & Tour.
1999 The Unexpected Guest Anna Karen as Mrs Warwick For Newpalm Productions.
1999 Love me Slender Anna Karen, Lorraine Chase and Bella Emberg.
2002 Murdered To Death Anna Karen, Nicholas Smith, Geoffrey Davies, Richard Elis, Shona Lindsay, Sarah Whitlock, Rachel Mulcahy, Andrew Loudon, Mary Duddy. Directed by Julian Woolford.
ANNA KAREN ON TELEVISION
Anna has made numerous appearances on the box over the past years- including of course “On The Buses” and “EastEnders”. Here are some of these programmes starting in 1969.
1969 Wild Wild Women (as Maud) BBC
1969-73 On The Buses (Olive Rudge) LWT
1970 Dixon Of Dock Green
1973 The Affair
1975 Milko (Bob Grant & Anna Karen)
1976 And Mother Makes Five
The Kenneth Williams Show
A Place To Hide
1977 The Dick Emery Show
1977 The Rag Trade (as Olive) LWT
1981 Stainless Steel & The Star Spies
1985-86 Troubles And Strife (Rosita Pearman) 12 Episodes, Central TV
The 1985-86 Central TV’s “Trouble and Strife” saw Anna as the bossy Rosita Pearman in a cast that included Maureen Beattie, Carol Macready, Annette Badland, Liz Gebhardt, Patricia Brake, Diana Weston and Robert Blythe.
1986 Roland Rat The Series (as Maureen McConkey 14 Episodes
Anna has worked extensively in Role Play for corporate clients, and for the NHS, and through her teaching roles has become invoved in Theatre In Education in and around Essex.She wrote and produced “Barking At War” at the National Trust’s Eastbury Manor House.
This brochure from 1951 shows some of the Pantomime Posters you could order, and have printed with your production details. Double Crown Posters, Hanging Cards (usually cardboard with a hanging loop for shop doors) and flyers, also called circulars or handbills.
Brightly coloured to attract the eye, these posters, and programme covers gave the essence of the panto story in one picture. Top left you can see Ananazar is harassing Aladdin as the Genie looks on. Jack steals away from a sleeping Giant, and Bo Peep (a subject no longer performed) attends her sheep- The Babes escape from the robbers seen in the background! All instant “hits” to tell the basic story, and tempt you to book your tickets!
The Company that produced these images for Theatres was G&M Organ. Previously Alf Cooke Ltd of Leeds produced posters from the 1920’s. George Organ produced his posters from 1928 in Bristol, supplying The Hippodrome and the Royal theatres with weekly bills and annual Pantomime print. They also had printing studios in Wrington in Somerset. The company name exist today.
George and his sister Marjorie set up their theatrical printers at Webbsbrook Printing works. These brochure went to theatres to enable them to overprint dates and names as required.
They are not only eye catching, and tell a key moment in the Fairy Story, but they give us a glimpse of pantomimes that no longer exist today. In 1951 there were the pantomime subjects on offer- and subjects like “Goody Two Shows”, “Sinbad” and even “Mother Goose” are no longer seen- Goldilocks is having a revival through Michael Harrison and the Qdos pantomimes at The Palladium and eventually all around the UK, but “Jack & Jill” is no longer performed, and “Puss In Boots” hardly ever.
Possibly the “Disney” effect is one reason why these titles fell by the wayside? The popularity of Disney’s films mean that the subjects they have screened are familiar and well loved , and the “big ” sellers are “Cinderella”, “Aladdin”, “Snow White” “Sleeping Beauty” and recently a revival in “Beauty and The Beast”, popular in the 1920’s and ’30’s.
In fact “Snow White” is the baby of the Panto family- it wasn’t performed as Panto or musical before Disney brought out the film, and presented a stage version in the UK in the late 1940’s.Here’s an example of a pantomime once popular and now no longer seen. It began to fade as this pictorial was published in the 1950’s.
Another reason the panto subjects have declined might be that their stories are simply not known. No longer taught in school or read at home. My Pantomime Roadshow has toured for many years around the UK. It is panto style show telling the history and traditions of Panto, and has a Q&A session at the end. These sessions are very interesting. Over the years we’ve witnessed the fact that pupils AND teachers don’t know the story of “Dick Whittington” for example. The plot- The rats- The three times Lord Mayor- even the Cat has all but been forgotten. So too has Goody Two Shoes, Puss In Boots- hardly anyone knows the story- and Mother Goose. Disney haven’t elevated these subjects, and children don’t hear of them at bedtime.
Home grown stories are starting to be forgotten. In the Roadshow I always ask the children to name me five BRITISH fairy stories or folk tales that have become Pantomimes. Not French, (Cinderella), not German (Snow White) not Arabian (Aladdin) but British. Robin Hood (and The Babes In The Wood is one) The other?
Peter Pan, Jack & The Beanstalk, Dick Whittington and Robinson Crusoe!
Just as the part of Principal Boy has changed from the female depiction to the male “Boy”- when these pictorials were published almost every Robin Hood, or Dick Whittington, or Prince Charming would have been played by a lady- usually a popular singer and West End theatre star- so the stories have changed. Pantomimes unfamiliar do not sell as well as the well known ones. The runs have become much shorter- even in recent times the Pantomimes I did in the late 70’s and ’80’s were eight or ten weeks. The normal runs today are around three to four weeks , with a few exceptions.
Also the Pantomime subjects that relied on “Nursery Rhymes” rather than Fairy Tales were always open to interpretation. The plot of “Goody Two Shoes” is perilously thin, and “Old King Cole” (above) can be adapted to fit the variety star of the day- If he was a fiddler (like the 50’s variety star – and Winston Churchill’s son-in-law, Vic Oliver, all the better! The Bo Peeps (my friend Freddie Lees told me of the tour with “Live sheep” that created chaos every night as they wandered around the stage and chewed the scenery!) The Jack & Jills all had wafer thin stories boosted with spectacle and variety acts, and gave much needed entertainment at Christmas.
A glimpse through this brochure is a look at the Pantomimes we love, and the pantomimes we will most likely never see again. The Victorian favourite “Bluebeard”, involving a murderous man, and “The White Cat”, or “Hop O’ My Thumb” are unlikely ever to be dusted off again!
Here’s an interesting poster I discovered in the Pantomime Pictorial Brochure- Displaying Summer season shows by one Will Hammer.
Will Hammer presented these Summer Season shows around the South of England. He owned theatres and cinemas.
The Hammer name, once the Cinema connection is in place means only one thing- Will was to found the British Film’s industry iconic “HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR”
Will Hammer (1887-1957) was a comedian in variety. He took his stage name from Hammersmith, where he grew up. His real name was Will Hinds. He formed a double act briefly- “Hammer & Smith” and performed in concert parties and summer shows, while speculating in business deals.
He began to own cinemas and theatres, and produced shows, some alongside business partners like the popular bandleader Jack Payne. He owned the Westcliff theatre Clacton, Theatres in Bournemouth, Felixstowe, Broadstairs and moved the shows around from one venue to another. In 1934 he saw a gap in the film making market, and set up his own company alongside partner (Enrique) James Carreras. This went into liquidation a few years later, but their offices in Regent Street began filming in studios created inside often neglected Stately homes and mansions. Useful for locations into the bargain.
Studios in Marleybone in the 1940’s produced film versions of radio hit shows- The “Dick Barton” series was one- and by 1949 new offices were opened in Wardour Street London called “HAMMER HOUSE”.
The 1950’s popularity of “Gothic” horror films meant that Hammer Films could expand. Their “repertory” actors included Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee,, Oliver Reed, Barbara Shelley, Linda Hayden, Ralph Bates and Ingrid Pitt to name but a few. Bray Studios became one of Will Hammer’s studios and from 1955 it became a by word for British Film making.
Will’s hobby led him to own Cycling shops. It was his passion. Sadly in 1957 at the age of 70 he died in a cycling accident near his home in Leatherhead. At the time his studios were at capacity and his Aqua Show “Big Splash” at Blackpool was, under his supervision, about to open.
Interesting what a poster in a brochure can reveal!
Jean Bayless was a huge star- her career saw her appear in three London Palladium Pantomimes, Star on Broadway in “The Boyfriend”, She was the very first Maria in “The Sound Of Music” in London She started her career alongside her friend Audrey Hepburn, she starred in Musicals, Pantomimes and toured the Far East and South Africa. She worked with all the major comics from Norman Evans, Morecambe and Wise, Arthur Askey, Bob Monkhouse, Ronnie Corbett A star of ATV’s “Crossroads”and a very generous and lovely lady. A privilege to have known and worked with her.
Jean Bayless was born in Hackney in 1931. She trained at the Italia Conti school, and at the age of seventeen made her West End debut at The Cambridge Theatre London in a Christmas production.
1948 CAMBRIDGE THEATRE: WHERE THE RAINBOW ENDS
On December 22nd 1948 the M.A.D. Society presente a matinée season a of the Italia Conti production of the musical play.” Where The Rainbow Ends.”
This is a first-rate performance with never a false note throughout. John Potter and Jean Bayless play the Carey children with firm and unselfconscious conviction that is most impressive. The children from the Italia Conti Stage School fill the stage with colour and movement to provide at times a vision of ethereal charm.” (The Stage )
Nanette Newman, a fellow student at Italia Conti’s featured in this production. She was later to have a career in films and married the film director Bryan Forbes. She was not the first budding Hollywood star that Jean would work with that year- the young Jean Bayless and Audrey Hepburn were cast in several West End Theatre Revues, again at the Cambridge Theatre.
1949CAMBRIDGE THEATRE: SAUCE TARTARE
Opening on 18th May 1949, This revue style show featured Claud Hulbert, Renee Houston, Zoe Gail, Ronald Frankau, Jean Bayless, Audrey Hepburn, and Aud Johansen.
The BBC filmed “Sauce Tartare” onstage at The Cambridge Theatre, adding British and Hollywood star Jessie Mathews to the television presentation by Walton Anderson. Transmitted 4th September 1949.
Zoe Gail, married to Hubert Gregg, was famed for her song “I’m going to get lit up when the lights go on in London”,she had been chosen by Winston Churchill to perform this live in Piccadilly to celebrate the end of the Second World War.
Stage Nov 17th 1949
Sauce Tartare,” the current revue at the Cambridge, will continue to play twice nightly, while Christmas Party,” which opens on December 20 for the season, will have matinee performances daily and three morning performances each week. This will mean that Claude Hulbert, Jack Melford. Joan Heal. Jean Bayless. Aud Johansen, and Audrey Hepburn, who are appearing in both productions, will be playing 21 shows a week.
1949CAMBRIDGE THEATRE “THE CHRISTMAS PARTY”
Claude Hulbert, Jack Melford, Joan Heal, Jean Bayless, Audrey Hepburn and Aud Johansen.
1950CAMBRIDGE THEATRE: SAUCE PIQUANTE
This review produced again by Cecil Landeau was a short run of only 67 Performances. It opened on 27th April 1950, and once again Jean Bayless was joined by Audrey Hepburn, Aud Johansen and Joan Heal.
This revue featured comedians who would become major players in the future- it introduced Norman Wisdom (Later Sir Norman) and Bob Monkhouse. It featured Revue favourite Douglas Byng and Moira Lister (Later Viscountess ofOrthez) star of many comedy shows and plays.
1950 Saturday Night Revue”- A Television Series. Jean Bayless appeared in three episodes, along with Audrey Hepburn and Aud Johansen, her fellow artistes from “Sauce Piquant”.
1950 BRIGHTON HIPPODROME. MOTHER GOOSE – George Gee as Mother Goose, Jill Manners as Colin. Beryl Reid as Gretchen. Jimmy Britton as the Squire. Ron Rowlands as Jack, Jean Bayless as Jill, Bert Martell as the Goose. Roger Williams as the Demon, with specialities by Rita Baker, principal dancer. The Terry Children. J. W. Jackson Girls. Eugene’s Flying Ballet, and Eddie Gordon and Nancy. Opened December 23.-Feb10th
1951 February- THE LONDON PALLADIUM : BABES IN THE WOOD
Jean Bayless took over as Principal Girl replacing Carole Lynne, for the final three weeks of the run. Carole Lynne was married to Bernard Delfont, and would later become Baroness Delfont.
The Pantomime starred Jimmy Jewel and Ben Warris, Adele Dixon. Roy Royston. Sonnie Hale, the George Mitchell Glee Club, the Seven Ashtons. Mary and Erik, Herbert Hare, Evie and Joe Slack, Joan Alexis.
After stepping in for Carole Lynn, that same year Jean Bayless was offered the next Palladium Pantomime by Val Parnell.
1951 DEVONSHIRE PARK, EASTBOURNE: SUMMERTIME SPECIAL
With Avril Angers, Bunny Doyle and Jean Bayless.
1951 December to 1952 THE LONDON PALLADIUM: HUMPTY DUMPTY
The Pantomime starred Norman Evans, Terry-Thomas as King, Noele Gordon as principal boy, Betty Jumel as Humpty, Jean Bayless as principal girl. The fairy was played by ballerina and actress Gillian Lynne, who played “Puss In Boots” here, and was to become one of the leading choreographers and directors of British Theatre- “Cats”, “Phantom of The Opera” to name but two. She now has a theatre named in her honour in London’s West End.
The Pantomime had its on Opening Dec 22nd December, and it Ran till March 1952.
Derek Salberg in his book “Once upon a pantomime” repeats an anecdote:“Norman Evans played Dame, Terry Thomas was playing the King, with Noele Gordon Principal Boy and Jean Bayless as Girl.In February 1952, King George VI died, and Val Parnell phoned Norman Evans in his hotel to say “Norman, we won’t be playing tonight, the King’s died.”
Norman, always a pro, said “That’s terrible news, but can’t the understudy play the part?” thinking Val was referring to Terry Thomas.
1952 “SCOTLAND YARD INSPECTOR”
A film starring Hollywood actor Cesare Romero (Known to millions in the ‘60’s as “The Joker” in The Batman TV Series) and Lois Maxwell (later “Miss Moneypenny to James Bond.). Jean had a small role in this movie.
1952. June 12th: CSE (Combined Services Entertainment)
A tour of the Middle East with Clifford Henry, Hugh Lloyd, Fred Lovelle, Jean Bayless, Reg & Barbara Lewis.
1952 MANCHESTER PALACE: Humpty Dumpty :
Norman Evans Patricia Burke, Betty Jumel, Jean Bayless, Jimmy Lee, Maureen Sims. Ran till March 1953.
Jean had previously worked with Norman Evans at the London Palladium production of this pantomime. Norman was one of the finest Pantomime Dames and a huge Variety star- famous for his “Over The Garden Wall” sketches, on stage and on film. He appeared each year in Humpty Dumpty alongside diminutive Variety star Betty Jumel
1953WINTER GARDENS BLACKPOOL: “SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT”
A Summer Season at Blackool starring Harry Worth, Morecambe & Wise, Ken Platt, Jean Bayless, Malcolm Goddard, Claudine Goodfellow, Allen Jones.
1953BIRMINGHAM ROYAL -Humpty Dumpty
The pantomime again starred Norman Evans, Patricia Burke, Betty Jumel, Jimmy Lee, Jean Bayless ,and Maureen Sims.
Jean Bayless teamed up once again with stars from The Manchester Palace and the original Palladium pantomime.
It was during this Pantomime in Birmingham that Jean met her husband to be, David Johnson. Sitting in a box watching the panto he was determined to meet her, which he did. They got engaged in 1955.
1954GOING GAY: The CSE (Combined Services Entertainment) party flew from London Airport to Korea and Malaya for 12 weeks. Party included Billy Whittaker, Mimi Law, Jean Bayless and Leonard Felix.
Billy and Mimi were husband and wife, and toured together in Pantomimes and Variety shows for all their married life. Ken Dodd often requested Billy to play Dame in his pantomimes. I was fortunate to work with them both in shows. Billy’s father was The Great Coram, a headlining Ventriloquist in the Music Halls with his “automaton”, Jerry!
1954PRINCE OF WALES THEATRE THE NORMAN WISDOM SHOW
The Norman Wisdom Show moved from the Palladium to make way for panto.It transferred to the Prince of Wales for a short season,to the end of Feb 1955. Jean Bayless joined the show (taking over from Fay Lenore)
1955 May.BLACKPOOL QUEEN’S: “THE PICK OF THE PACK
With Joan Regan, Ken Platt, TheThree Monarchs, Hylda Baker, Jean Bayless, The Two Earls, Waltzing Waters
Jean Bayless was released from this summer season on Sat July 30th to go to New York in the autumn and succeed Julie Andrews as leading lady in “The Boy Friend” on Broadway.
1955 THE BOYFRIEND – ROYALE THEATRE, BROADWAY
Jean Bayless as Polly .
Jean took over the leading role from Julie Andrews who made her American Stage debut in this show the previous year. Producers casting the Broadway “My Fair Lady” saw her as Polly and cast her as Eliza Doolittle.
In the production was Millicent Martin, Dilys Laye and John Hewer, and Anne Wakefield.
Anne was the only original cast member from “The Players Theatre” original cast to transfer to Broadway .She worked with Jean again, thirty years later in “Perchance To Dream” on tour, which I designed the costumes for.! Anne played Ernestine to Jean’s Lady Charlotte.
Jean recalled that she was going to stay in a Hotel in New York, but Julie Andrews told her “You can’t be there all by yourself, so I slept on her settee for three months- those three months I stayed with her were magical!”
From “The Stage:” 14th May 1955 NAME’S THE SAME – TWO girls who have America to blame for name changes came to Scotland this week. Jeannie Carson was one, up from town for a personal appearance at a Glasgow theatre. She used the Jean until American Equity insisted she couldn’t use that name in the States: there was already another Jean Carson on the book.
Girl No. 2 with a name-change is Jean Bayless.
In America she took over from Julie Andrews as the girl friend in The Boy Friend.” American I Equity forced her to the name switch. She was told there was already an American comic named Jean Bayloss and a dancer named Jean Bayliss. So she became Jo Ann Bayless! Then, back in Britain, everybody said: “Weren’t you known once as Jean Bayless?’ Poor Jean gave up, and became plain Jean Bayless again. She still says: “If I were starting my career over again, I’d pick something more glamorous.” P.S. Jean is a 5 ft. I in. bundle of glamour.
Jean got engaged to David Johnson during the US Tour of “The Boyfriend.They got married on 11th December 1957 at Chelsea Register Office, and lived in Chelsea before they moved to Birmingham, where David opened his jewellery shop.
1957 “HIGHLAND FLING” A television series
1957 LYRIC HAMMERSMITH: HARMONY CLOSE
With Rose Hill, Bernard Cribbins and Jean Bayless.
1958PRINCE’S THEATRE (now The Shaftesbury) SCHOOL
A New musical “SCHOOL” based on the play by T.W. Robertson, it Opened on March 4th it closed on March 15th after just 22 performances. Presented by Jack Hylton it featured Jean Bayless as Bella, Michael Blakemore, Eleanor Drew, James Maxwell and Geoffrey Taylor.
Jean Bayless was announced in “The Stage” announced as playing Cinderella at the Manchester Palace, with Bob Monkhouse as Buttons- opening in December. However early in November she gave birth to her son, Daniel Joseph, Jean was replaced by Sally Bazeley.
1959 EDINBURGH LYCEUM “FIVE PAST EIGHT”– May onwards:
A return to revue for Jean Bayless in the long running and populat “Five Past” and “Half Past” revues that played the Edinburgh and Glasgow Theatres annually throughout the summer. This production was with Rikki Fulton, Digby Wolfe, Janet Brown, Peter Butterworth, Jean Bayless, Irene Claire, Eileen Gourlay, Ethel Scott, Clem Ashby, Brina Jones, Robin Palmer, John Auld.
After a long run the production transferred to Glasgow King’s with the new name “The Other Show”
Janet Brown, impressionist and comedienne was married to Peter Butterworth who would later star in the “Carry On” films.
CHRISTMAS 1959 –LIVERPOOL ROYAL COURT –“FUN AND GAMES”
“A Grand Christmas Musical Extravaganza”
Starring Beryl Reid, Bill Maynard, Ivor Emmanuel, Sid Millward, Wally Stewart & the Nitwits, Los Gatos, Jean Bayless, Dunja Duo – ran till Feb 1960.
Jean would later appear opposite popular Welsh singer Ivor Emmanuel in the Palladium Pantomime “Jack and The Beanstalk”.
1961 Saturday March 11th, SATURDAY SPECTACULAR ATV
A 50 minute TV variety show with Sidney James, Jack Hawkins, Veronica Bravo, Jean Bayless & Davy Jones.
A star studded bill featuring “Carry On” star Sid James, Hollywood Action Star Jack Hawkins, singer Veronica Bravo and Davy Jones . Davy Jones, later to achieve fame as one of “The Monkees” group, had made his television debut this year in Coronation Street, as Ena Sharples’s Grandson. He was The Artful Dodger on London and on Broadway in “Oliver!”
FROM BIRMINGHAM TO BROADWAY TO WEST END– Jean flew to New York to audition for the role of Maria in “The Sound Of Music” to be presented in London’s West End. She auditioned for the show’s composer, Richard Rodgers-and Jean got the part as the first Maria in the British production .That meeting,in her own words:
“I was on the stage of the theatre on Broadway rehearsing with the pianist and I didn’t realise that Richard Rodgers was actually there- in the auditorium! Then he appeared and walked down the aisle and said “Jean, you ARE our Maria in London! So just sing the song will you, then we can go and have some lunch!
” So I sang “The Sound Of Music” , I thought we were going to the Wardorf Astoria, but we ended up in a hamburger joint around the corner, and I had a hamburger with Richard Rodgers! I have never enjoyed a hamburgerso much!
Julie Andrews was appearing in Camelot on Broadway, and Jean called in to see her. “Richard Burton came into her dressing room and she told him “Jean’s got the part of Maria in The Sound Of Music”, and he said “Jean’s so pretty she could get anything”
1961THE PALACE THEATRE, LONDON. THE SOUND OF MUSIC
London run: Palace, May 18th (2,385 Performances)
Music: Richard Rodgers, Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II, Director: Vincent J. Donehue, re-staged by Jerome Whyte, Choreographer: Joe Layton,Musical Director: Robert Lowe
Cast: Jean Bayless (Maria), Roger Dann (Captain von Trapp),Eunice Gayson (Elsa),Harold Kasket (Max Detweiler),Constance Shacklock (Mother Abbess), Barbara Brown (Liesl), Nicholas Bennett (Rolf), Olive Gilbert (Sister Margaret)
Jean Bayliss played Maria until June 15th 1963
During the “How do you solve a problem like Maria” television quest, Jean Bayless was courted for her opinions about the role. Here is a photo of Jean, with Julie Andrews and Connie Fisher at the 02 attending Dame Julie’s show.
She has talked about the operation she had to her throat eighteen years ago that resulted in her voice not being what it once was. Dame Julie of course had a similar operation, and Jean commented that she had a similar result. Ironically very recently Connie Fisher too has suffered throat problems and received treatment. These three “Marias” have had very similar experiences and all survived with charm and humour
GLASGOW KING’S : “LilacTime”
Jean Bayless., John Larsen, Billy Milton
Stage: April 16th 1964- “Jean Bayless, Mrs David Johnson, gave birth to a son, Adam, last weekend”
1965THE WORLD OF IVOR NOVELLO Tour
Tom Arnold presented “The World and Music of Ivor Novello”, with John Hanson, Jean Bayless, chorus and ballet. The show played short seasons at Bournemouth. Southsea, Bristol, Oxford, Manchester. Nottingham, Liverpool Glasgow, Coventry, Cardiff ,and Birmingham.
1966 OXFORD NEW THEATRE : ALADDIN
Stage: Thursday January 20th 1966- Billy Fury, who has been playing Aladdin at the Oxford New, has been ordered by his doctor to rest his voice. He left the show after last Saturday night’s performance. Jean Bayless, who was last seen in Oxford in May, in “The World and Music of Ivor Novello”, took over the part of Aladdin at three day’s notice. John Dorrill, managing director of the Oxford New says, “Billy Fury has been having special treatment for histhroat for about three weeks and has been struggling through his performances under great difficulties”.
Jean Bayless replaced the Pop Star Billy Fury as Principal Boy- playing Aladdin opposite Pantomime and West End veteran Laurie Lupino Lane, with Ray Fell, Gamblers, Sid Plummer, Cheryl Kennedy, Angela Ryder, Pan Yue Jen, Peter Dixon, and Darryl Stewart .
This pantomime is featured on this site in the articles section- “Angela Ryder A Scrapbook”
Shortly after the Pantomime, in April 1967, Jean returned to her Novello tour, and returned to Oxford. John Hanson was replaced by Bruce Trent & Barry Sinclair.
1967 GUILDFORD: JACK & THE BEANSTALK
JOHN MOFFATT, prolific pantomime writer, played Dame Trot in his own version of “Jack and the Beanstalk” at the Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford, opening on December 22. Jean Bayless played Jack and the cast included Valerie Carton, Brian Coburn. Robert Doming, Michael Rothwell, Robert Bridges, Mari gold Sharman, Marie Kingston, Graham James and Jean Muir. Wendy Toye Directed.
Stage: February 29th 1968- JEAN BAYLESS, who created Maria in the London production of “The Sound of Music”, has been invited by the Light Opera Company of New Zealand to play the part in their production at His Majesty’s in Auckland, opening on April 27.
1968 THE DANCING YEARS – TOUR
June Bronhil, starring in this tour, had to leave leave the cast of “The Dancing Years” at Nottingham Royal on Friday last and was rushed to a London hospital for an operation. Pauline Greta, who understudied during the London run, travelled to Nottingham to keep the curtain up. Jean Bayless took over, and continued with the tour at Nottingham.
Cast: Jean Bayless, Nicholas Hawtrey, Robert Crewdyson, Maoyna Coope, Cathy Jose, Enrico Giacomini
1968 LONDON PALLADIUM : JACK & THE BEANSTALK
Opened on December 17th 1968, starring Jimmy Tarbuck, Ivor Emmanuel, Jean Bayless, Arthur Askey, Charlie Cairoli, and Audrey Jeans.
1969 PAVILION BOURNEMOUTH : CINDERELLA
directed by Frank Adey, with Byron Brooke as musical director and Carol Godin the choreographer. In the cast were Ted Rogers, Jean Bayless, Marion Grimaldi, Tommy Rose, Noelle Finch, The Patton Brothers, George Raymonde, Charlie Stewart, Elisabeth Wade, the Alexandra Dancers and Singers, with Eugene’s Flying Ballet, Douglas George’s Lilliput Ponies and Currie’s Comedy Bathroom.
Brian Patton recalls the Pantomimes with Ronnie Corbett and Ted Rogers- Jean Bayless as Principal Girl. “She was a lovely Cinders, She was great fun too. We had at Birmingham the lovely Lynn Kennington as Prince. They were great together and lovely lasses”
1970 SHAW SAVILLE CRUISE LINE– The cruise line operated nine cruises by Northern Star and Southern Cross . The leading lady was Jean Bayless, supported by Jennifer Burch, Deanna Linden, Sheila Dawson, Ian Calvin, David Wheldon-Williams, Norman Colson, George Raebitt ,and comedian Dave Starr .
1970 THE GOLDEN YEARS OF MUSIC HALL- SOUTH AFRICA TOUR
Veteran Variety stars Sandy Powell, Bob and Alf Pearson, Leslie Sarony and Marjory Manners with Jean Bayless. The original stars of Radio and Variety Halls were joined by Jean Bayless. Marjory Manners had been a top Principal Boy in Pantomime in the 1940’s and a “Chorus Singer”- Sandy Powell’s catchphrase “Can you hear me Mother?” was heard in every front room booming out from the radio in the 1940’s and ’50’s- his ventriloquist sketch with his wife Kay White can be seen on Youtube- brilliantly funny- and Bob and Alf Pearson “My Brother and I” were on Radio in the 1930’s and throughout the war as headliners. Lesley Sarony was a music Hall comic, singer and eccentric dancer. All in all a splendid bill topped by Jean’s beautiful singing.
1970BIRMINGHAM ALEXANDRA THEATRE: CINDERELLA
Ronnie Corbett as Buttons, Jean Bayless as Cinderella, Lynn Kennington and Noelle Finch as Dandini and Prince. Janet Hargreaves. The Mistins. The Patton Brothers-Jimmy & Brian Patton,as Broker’s Men. Paul Page & his Puppet Wonderland. Tommy Rose & George Raymonde as The Ugly Sisters. Charlie Stewart. Sons And Lovers. The Alexandra Dancers. Douglas George’s Lilllput Ponies (Derek. Salberg).
Derek Salberg’s book “Once Upon A Pantomime” says of Jean “Her exquisite voice, lovely face and personality” as Cinderella.
Brian Patton recalls “Ronnie Corbett was Buttons, he took us with him to the Palladium- we did every Panto with Ronnie after that as “Uglies” at Newcastle, Bromley and Cardiff. Ronnie wanted us (The Patton Brothers) for The Wire Act and other bits with him”.
Janet Hargreaves and Jean Bayless were friends. Janet went on to play Rosemary Hunter in ATV’s Crossroads the following year, 1971. The star of Crossroads was Noelle Gordon, who appeared in The Palladium Pantomime 1951, Humpty Dumpty playing opposite Jean Bayless.
It was Janet Hargreaves who told Noelle Gordon that Jean lived in Birmingham. The friends re-united, and the part of Cynthia Cunningham was created for Jean!
1972- 1973 ATV’s “CROSSROADS”
Jean Bayless played Chef Cynthia Cunningham in the popular peak time “soap”, set in a Motel in the Midlands.
The series ran from 1964 to 1988, and at its peak had 15 million viewers. The Principal cast were Noele Gordon (Jean’s former Prince in The Palladium Pantomime) and Jane Rossington, Roger Tongue, Ronald Allen, Ann George, Paul Henry (“Benny”), Lynette McMorrough.
Jean Bayless was resident in Birmingham, and her husband had his businesses here. The filming of Interior Motel was at the Birmingham Broad Street and Gas Street. Studios
Jean’s sons, Daniel and Adam made an onscreen appearance when “Crossroads” was filming at The Chateau Impney Hotel in 1972. The hotel was the setting for Meg (Noele Gordon’s ) Wedding to Hugh Mortimer.
Jean’s friend Rosemary played the unhinged wife of David Hunter. in 1980 Rosemary shot him, but the gun failed to fire- Actor Ronald allen burst the fake blood bag and soaked his expensive suit- and the scene has been repeated on “It’ll be alright on the night” frequently! Janet went on to play the mysterious Mrs Boyle in London’s “The Mousetrap” opposite Andrew Ryan for a year. A few years earlier Andrew played opposite Jean in a comedy. A small world is theatre!
Presented by Richmond Theatre– An Arabian Nights Musical- The Stage 1972: ” Scheherazade is played by Jean BayIess as a spirited, fiery personality and although Otto Ferrari’s music is quite un- memorable she sings well enough and looks suitably ravishing in a series of see- through garments. Nita Howard’s choreography keeps the shapely girls moving enticingly at regular intervals, providing the largest proportion of the shows colour.“
The show toured to Richmond, Eastbourne. Birmingham,
1972 KINGS RHAPSODY– National Tour
Directed by Alexander Bridge, at Wimbledon, followed by Southsea, Hull,_ Nottingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Eastbourne, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Sunderland.
The company included Jean Bayless, Dermot Walsh, Olive Gilbert, Alexander Bridge, Eileen Farrow, Mary Jowes, Christopher Molloy, John Aron, Audrey Laybourne, Jonathan Gardner, Jilly Coram, Polly Northwood, Roger Farrant,and Russell Grant.
Olive Gilbert was the star of Ivor Novello’s Musicals, and his dearest friend. They had apartments in Wardorf Chambers, Aldwych, next to each other. Years later these apartments became the offices of Pantomime Impressario Paul Elliott.
.Jean and Olive were both in the original production of “The Sound Of Music” together at the Palace Theatre London in 1961.
Russell Grant appeared in many tours and musicals before his career as a nationally syndicated Astrologer and media personality took over. His career has included presenting This Morning and Good Morning Britain, Strictly and Masterchef.
From October 9th Jean Bayless was replaced in this tour by Lynn Kennington, her Pantomime Prince from The Birmingham Alex Production. (Jean had a previous commitment to return to ATV’s Crossroads.
1974 STARTIME ’74 CONGRESS EASTBOURNE
Starring Ronnie Corbett, Rod Hull & Emu, Kenneth McKellar, Jean Bayless, Suzanne & Fudi, Ludmila Nova
1974 THE GOOD OLD DAYS: THE COVENTRY THEATRE
For Delfont/Mills , opening October 4th – November 23rd.
Leonard Sachs introduced: Max Wall, Ronnie Ronalde, Audrey Jeans, Joe Church, Jean Bayless, Gil Dova, Regina Baranton, ‘The Good Old Days’ was staged by Dick Hurran . It is only the second time the original BBC show as presented for television had been performed for a theatre season.
September 4th 1976
At the Cafe Royal on September 4, the Theatre Healing Guild was launched at the 2 1st anniversary celebrations of the National Federation of Spiritual Healers. Supporters from among the profession, in this photo of 83-year-old Harry Edwards, world leader of the healing movement, cutting the birthday cake, are, from left to right, Ronald Leigh-Hunt, Jack Allen. Anna Karen, Jenny Tomasin, Damaris Hayman, Jean Bayless, Dennis Vink and Rissa Cooper.
Anna Karen recalls it was famed spiritualist Harry’s birthday, and stars of the West End were invited- here Jean is helping Harry cut his cake!
1983 GIGI – A National Tour
Starring Fenella Fielding, James Villiers, Avril Angers, Elisabeth Scott, Jean Bayless, Muriel Barker and David Crosse in the cast. Hubert Gregg, who also composed the incidental music, directs.
Jean Bayless and Fenella Fielding were Best friends, remaining so for the rest of their lives. Both ladies had experienced working in Theatre Revues when the genre was at its height- as had Audrey Hepburn, who appeared in three with Jean in The West End.
1984BLITHE SPIRIT – A National Tour
Opened 31st March at The Ashcroft Theatre, Croydon.
QUILLBELL Ltd presented a tour of Noel Coward’s “Blithe Spirit”, starring Elspeth March as Madam Arcati, James Villiers as Charles, Adrienne Corri as Ruth, , Elisabeth Scott as Elvira, David Crosse as Dr. Bradman. Jean Bayless as Mrs Bradman, and Stacey Gregg as Edith, with Hubert Gregg directing and design by Paul Gambrill
1985PERCHANCE TO DREAM.THEATRE ROYAL HANLEY NATIONAL TOUR
There were preview performance at Hanley from August 22 to 24 and an official opening night at the Hippodrome, Bristol on August 26. Directed by Jimmy Thompson
Simon Ward, Jean Bayless, Joan Lawrence, Diana Martin, Larry Drew and Ann Wakefield in leading roles.
This production rehearsed in London, and I designed the costumes for the show. Jean played Lady Charlotte Fayre (later “Aunt Chatty”) in the musical. She performed “We’ll Gather Lilacs” in this traditionally non singing role.
I had seven gowns made for Jean, in both the Regency and Victorian style. She looked simply gorgeous.Many nights she would leave the theatre on tour looking totally glamorous and step into the car which her husband David would have warmed and waiting outside Stage Door. A true star exit!
1993NO SEX PLEASE, WE’RE BRITISH!The Octagon Theatre Yeovil.
Presented by Alexander Bridge- Jean had appeared with this management before in “King’s Rhapsody”. Jean Bayless played Eleanor Hunter with Bruce James, Damian Williams, Andrew Ryan, Nicola Boyce, Alan Terry, Susan Wolfson, Joanna Dudley and Craig Scarborough.
Jean, a long time resident of Birmingham came to visit Andrew Ryan at The Birmingham Hippodrome when he was in Panto. She also visited me in Wolverhampton in Panto. Here are two photos of these lovely meetings.
It was a joy to give Jean a tour backstage at The Grand- Andrew did the same at Birmingham, along with her close friends David Hartshorne and David Lilley- “David and David” .
Jean Bayless passed away in Birmingham on Friday, February 5th. She is survived by her sons Daniel and Adam, and her five Granddaughters, and so greatly missed by her family, her many friends in and out of “Show Business” and fans of Musical Theatre the world over.I was so privileged to have worked with and known Jean- The lady truly was- A Star!
In her son Daniel Johnson’s words:“She was a very gregarious and hospitable person, a very cool woman,if there were more people like her it would make the world a happier place”
On November 1st 2020 a new biography of Stanley Baxter by Brian Beacom was published. The title “The Real Stanley Baxter”. At the age of 94 Stanley Baxter ranks as one of Television’s greatest stars, and the biggest star to ever headline Scottish Pantomimes- from 1949 through to 1992.
Here at its-behind-you.com we pay tribute to one of the finest Pantomime Dame’s to grace the stage with a list of all his pantomimes, and a few memories from two of his Principal Boys. The list is ongoing, and as more information comes in, we’ll be adding to Stanley Baxter in Pantomime!
Stanley Baxter’s career in television and film is well documented- he topped the ratings for both the BBC and ITV with his shows and his Christmas specials brought Hollywood to our screen, each year more and more lavish. The Pantomimes, however, are not so well documented.
Before the list, here are a few facts about the man who started his performing career as a child in his native Glasgow, where he was born on May 24th 1926.
A child actor for BBC Scotland Children’s Hour, from the age of 7 he toured Glasgow’s Church Halls doing impersonations, with his Mother accompanying on the piano. His impressions included Harry Lauder and Mae West, who he had not even seen! At the age of 14 he was Broadcasting on BBC Radio Children’s Hour.
His Sister Alice Dale appeared in revues and Pantomimes. She was the first female DJ on Scots Radio, The Home Service.
Stanley was called on for National Service, and joined The C S Entertainment Unit alongside Kenneth Williams, Peter Nichols and John Schlesinger. Peter Nichols was later to use these experiences in his play “Privates On Parade”.
As an actor Stanley joined the Glasgow Citizens Theatre in repertory and performed plays, revues and appeared in their Revue style Pantomimes for three Years. His first experience of pantomime began with the 1949 production, The Tin Toc Cup
PANTOMIMES 1949 to 1992
1949-50 Citizens Theatre The Tin Toc Cup (five months panto/review) Stanley Baxter played one of The broker’s Men in this fantasy pantomime.
1950-51 Citizens Theatre Red Riding Hood (as part of the Rep Season)
It was in this production BBC Producer Eddie Fraser saw Stanley in “Red Riding Hood” at the Citz, and booked him to appear with Jimmy Logan .Logan’s catphrase was “Sausages is the Boys!” and Baxter’s was “If you want me Thingummy, Ringummy!”
1951-52 Citizens Theatre The Happy Hap’ny Played Dame in a Sketch, playing Dame Bess in “Corgi & Bess” . “Stanley Baxter as Dame Bess buys a most obstreperous scooter!” with Joan Sims, Molly Urqart, James Cairncross, Peter Bryant, Robert Cartland, Madeleine Christie, Joan Scion, Abe Barker and Joan Seton. Ran from Dec 20th to March 15th. (The panto run was extended).
1952-53 Royal Glasgow Cinderella Stanley Baxter as Buttons.
Cast: Bartlett & Ross (Ugly Sisters) Carol Eric (Prince) Hope Jackman (Dandin) Nicolette Roeg (Cinderella) Bond Rowell (Baron)Rolly & Arry (Hattie The Horse), Peta Parry (Bear), Elizabeth Millar, Irene Reid, June Goss, David Hamilton with Lawson’s Ponies, Jack Bolesworth & His Orchestra. Stewart Cruikshank Presented, Freddie Carpenter Produced.
(Freddie Carpenter produced Glasgow Cinderella, Edinburgh Robinson Crusoe (with Douglas Byng & Jimmy Logan) Newcastle Theatre Royal (Puss In Boots) and Liverpool (George Lacy in Queen Of Hearts).
“Stanley Baxter, Judging from the first night’s reception has won a special place for himself. He has an engaging sense of humour and proves himself a comedian of real ability”
“His Drummer sketch is original and witty, as is his song “Glasgow”. As Buttons he adds considerably to the value of the show.”
“The Wedding Fete- The period court gowns are a symphony in a soft pastel pink, topped with black velvet bodice, and the Prince and Princess look most impressive in ivory and pink toned costumes” Songs for Prince & Cinderella included: “Here In My Heart” and “I’ll Follow my secret heart”
The Panto ran from 5th December to March 21st 1953
1953-54 King’s Edinburgh Aladdin George Lacy as Widow Twankey, Stanley Baxter as Wishee Washee
Cast: Nicolett Roeg (Aladdin), Barbara Leigh (Princess), Bond Rowell (Vizier), Peter Croft (Abanazar), Allan Christie (Emperor), Bruce McClure- “From the Celtic Ballet” (Genie), Joanna Rigby (Ring Genie), Ghezzi Brothers, (a ladder suspension Act), Katherine Feather (So Shy), Jon Denning, The James Turner Singers, Doreen Austin Dancers, Ray Gort & his Orchestra.
A sixteen year old dancer in this production was Valerie Singleton- later of “Blue Peter” fame on BBC TV.
Décor & Costumes by Berkeley Sutcliff. Produced by Freddie Carpenter. Howard & Wyndham.
“The clever young Scots comedian Stanley Baxter makes a big hit as Wishee Washee. His individual style and happy friendliness meet with warm approval, and he gains a hearty response to his chorus song “The Bungalow That Bob The Builder Built” –
Bob The Builder before his time!
“The emphasis is on spectacle and colour” “An amazing number of elaborate costumes, all strikingly original are displayed by George Lacy as Widow Twankey, a Sheer Joy. A clever washing medley and a whirlwind chasing of the Dame by the Policemen…”
Songs for Nicolette Roeg as Aladdin included “I’m A Street Boy” and “No two people have ever been so in love”.
1954-55 Royal Glasgow Aladdin Alec Finlay (Widow Twankey) Stanley Baxter (Wishee Washee)
Cast: Nicolette Roeg (Aladdin) Bond Rowell (Vizier) Ghezzi Brothers, Peter Croft (Abanazar) Bruce McClure (Genie), Katherine Feather (So Shy) Joanna Rigby (Ring Genie) from the previous year joined by Lucille Graham (Princess) and Alistair McHarg (Emperor)
This was Alec Finlay’s debut as Dame and his Howard & Wyndham Pantomime debut.
“The debut of Alec Finlay as Dame at the Theatre Royal Glasgow is a success, so is his teaming with young Stanley Baxter”
Freddie Carpenter produced/Directed – this season he directed five Howard & Wyndham Pantomimes- Aladdin at Glasgow Royal, Goldilocks with Jimmy Logan at the Glasgow Alhambra, Dick Whittington at The King’s Edinburgh with Harry Gordon, Puss In Boots at The Royal Court Liverpool with George Lacy and Robinson Crusoe at Newcastle with Douglas Byng & Albert Burdon.
1955-56 Alhambra Glasgow Cinderella Alec Finlay & Stanley Baxter as The Ugly Sisters.
Cast: Reg Varney (Buttons), Louis Green (Cinderella), Joy Turpin (Prince), Bond Rowell (Baroness Overdrawn), Babs McKinnon (Dandini), Kenneth McKellar, Domini Callaghan & Michel Le Lutry (Dance speciality), George Neil, Johhny Rae, Ruby Vining’s Famous Ponies.
Produced & directed by Freddie Carpenter for Howard & Wyndham.
Scenes included “The Land of Crystal”, “Rainbow Land” and “The Rose Pavilion”. Prince & Cinderella duets included “Stars shine in your eyes” and “Gay Is My Heart”
“For comedy, one thanks the Ugly Sisters, an admirable pair with Alec Finlay’s pawky humour contrasting well with that of Stanley Baxter. This is a new Baxter- assured, poised, and more settled in his comedy style than he has ever been”
“These two steal the show with their ingenious often stylish costumes. The “Charleston Burlesque,” and Slapstick in the bedroom were beautifully timed and well done”.
“Newcomer Reg Varney establishes himself here with his engaging humour and happy style”
It was to be five years later that television fame came to Reg Varney- First BBC’s “The Rag Trade” and later in 1969 “On The Buses”, the LWT sitcom that made him a household name.
1956-57 King’s Edinburgh Cinderella Alec Finlay & Stanley Baxter as The Ugly Sisters.
Cast: Joy Turpin (Prince), Bond Rowell (Baroness),George Neil (Baron) and Domini Callaghan & Michel De Lutry from the previous year, joined by Andy Stewart (Buttons) Betty Shaw (Cinderella), Stella Lowe (Dandini), Briget Clare (Fairy Godmother), Alistair McHarg (Replacing Kenneth McKellar singing) and Ruby Vining’s Famous Ponies.
Directed/Produced by Freddie Carpenter, Décor by Anthony Holland. Presented by Howard & Wyndham. The Orchestra on the opening night was conducted by Geraldo.
“Many hilarious scenes are provided by Alec Finlay and Stanley Baxter as The Ugly Sisters”
“One of the best pantomimes seen in Edinburgh for over a period of many years”
The Scenes included a Revolving Stage, a vivid Red and White Hunting Scene, and the Crystal Coach and ponies.
The Prince & Cinderella duets included: “I see everything I love in you”, “More” and “Woman In Love”. The Panto ran from December 5th 1956 to late February 1957.
1957-58 Alhambra Glasgow Mother Goose Stanley Baxter as Mother Goose. Duncan Macrae as Duncan McDrookit.
This was Stanley Baxter’s first solo Dame for Howard & Wyndham.
Cast: Fay Lenore (Colin), Kenneth McKellar,(Larry The Pupeteer), Mary Millar (Jill), Peter Johnson & Rena Steele,(Principal Dancers), Marjorie Holt,(Witch), Denise Shaune,( Fairy Queen), Tony Snape,( The Goose), Maryon Leslie and The Six Flying de Pauls.
“The Flying de Pauls-Six Australian girls leaping and tumbling to tremendous reaction in a circus scene” The Pantomime featured a Circus scene and a Mardi Gras scene.
Freddie Carpenter Directing, Choreography by Ross Taylor, Costumes by Anthony Holland. The Geraldo Orchestra. Written by John Law. The Panto Ran from November 22nd through to 16th March 1958.
Originally planned in May as “Humpty Dumpty” with Stanley Baxter and Duncan Macrae, it was later changed to Mother Goose.
“Stanley Baxter as Minnie Menzies, backed by a wide range of ingenious costumes. His cod strongman act with Duncan Macrae is a highlight”
During the long run Stanley Baxter developed Laryngitis, and for two nights in late January Marjorie Holt, playing Witch stepped into his role.
Howard & Wyndham had four pantomimes directed by Freddie Carpenter that season. “Goldilocks” at the Royal Court Liverpool introduced pop sensation Tommy Steele to Panto.
Freddie Carpenter said in an interview for “The Stage” that Principal Boys of the next decade will be played by boys. He was pretty accurate as the era of the male pop star as Principal Boy took hold!
Dickie Valentine played Buttons at Newcastle Theatre Royal, with Father and son Albert and Bryan Burdon as Ugly Sisters, while Jimmy Logan starred in “Babes In The Wood” at The King’s Edinburgh that season.
Down the road at the Glasgow Empire Tom Arnold presented “Cinderella”- it starred Alec Finlay, Chic Murray and Mike and Bernie Winters, alongside Ford & Sheen and Margo Henderson. On Opening night it ran four hours and twenty minutes! “We were lucky to get out at Midnight” (The Stage 1957.
1958 was the year of the Scottish Royal Variety Show. Stanley Baxter appeared as one of the headliners.
1958-59 King’s Edinburgh Mother Goose Stanley Baxter as Mother Goose (Minnie Menzies) .Jack Anthony joined the show as Laird McDrookit.
Cast: Joining Stanley from the previous year were Fay Lenore (Colin), Tony Snape (Goose), Marjorie Holt (Witch), Denise Shaun (Fairy Queen), Peter Johnson (Principal Dancer) with the new company Alistair McHarg (Replacing Kenneth McKellar as singing Puppeteer), Elizabeth Moscrop (Principal Dancer) and The Dunja Duo (Boy and Girl Acrobatic Act).
The Pantomime ran from December 5th and was extended to February 14th 1959. The Pantomime included a cod ballet with Jack Anthony and Stanley Baxter,as Laird & Dame, and a slapstick paste-throwing “Papering the Wall” scene. The Transformation at The Pool of Beauty saw Minnie Menzies become a teenager-
“Stanley Baxter transforms into a Rock & Roll Teen, with jeans and pony tail- a tour de force for this versatile comedian”
Stanley Baxter was now aged thirty, and had been in “Show Business” for twenty-three years.
The end of this Season marked the end of the continuous runs of Pantomimes in Glasgow and Edinburgh for Stanley Baxter. He had appeared in Seven Howard & Wyndham Pantomimes .
In February 1958 Stanley signed up for a BBC Television series to be filmed in London. He swapped flats with the singing Star Eve BOSWEll- She took his in Glasgow, and he stayed in her flat in London’s Swiss Cottage, close to the BBC. In May 1959 he began his Fortnightly series called “On The Bright Side”.
Stanley Baxter appeared in many of Howard & Wyndhams long running Summer Shows – “Five Past Eight” shows, and “Half Past Eight” Shows. The revues were a honing ground for comedy sketches, and the comedy routines could change during the long seasons. They became more and more spectacular as time went on, with swimming pools on stage, and vegas style effects. The tradition began back in the mid 1920’s, and here are a few of the bills.
1966-67 Alhambra Glasgow Cinderella Stanley Baxter with Ronnie Corbett as Natalie & Sophia, The Ugly Sisters. Lonnie Donegan as Buttons.
Cast: Lynn Kennington (Prince), Paula Hendrix (Cinderella), Jackie Sands (Dandini), Arlette (Crystal Fairy),and Tony Hulbert (Principal Dancer), Graham Squire (Baron), Kalman Glass (Baroness), William Redmond (Chamberlain), Louida Vaughan, The O’Keefe Brothers (Hettie The Horse), The Peter Darrell Dancers, Arthur Blake Singers, The Geraldo Orchestra.
Produced & Directed by Freddie Carpenter for Howard & Wyndham. Scenery & Costumes Berkley Sutcliffe, Choreography Peter Darrell.
The Pantomime ran from December 19th 1966 to March 1967.
Stanley Baxter made his return to Pantomime eight years after his success in “Mother Goose”.
Over in Edinburgh Jimmy Logan made his return to pantomime in “Goldilocks” after an absence of seven years.
This pantomime saw Edinburgh born Ronnie Corbett in his first leading role in a Scottish show. He was already a West End and television star with appearances on “The Frost Report” and “Sunday Night at The London Palladium”. He spent two years with Harry Secombe there, and appeared at Drury Lane in “The Boys From Syracuse” with both Lynn Kennington and Paula Hendrix.
Jackie Sands had appeared with Ronnie frequently at Danny La Rue’s Club, Churchill’s Club and on tours. She came to this pantomime direct from The Whitehall Theatre London, appearing in Danny La Rue’s “Come Spy With Me”. As Dandini she sang “It’s just The gypsy In My Soul” with the Palace Maids.
“When the day ever comes for someone to assess the Cinderella’s of Pantomime seasons, the 1966-1967 production of Cinderella by Freddie Carpenter with Berkley Sutcliffe’s scenery and costumes at The Alhambra Glasgow will rate near the top of the list for colour, beauty, enchantment, musical tunefulness and the talent of its principals”.
Glasgow born Lonnie Donegan – “The King Of Skiffle”-performed his hit chart numbers in the show in a barn scene where Buttons entertained the villagers.He sang the Formby number “Auntie Maggie’s Remedy” to open, and later He his hit “Have A Drink On Me” and “My Old Man’s A Dustman”, his Number 1 hit from 1960.
“Stanley Baxter finds his true forte as Ugly Sister Natalie, while little Ronnie Corbett and his mincing steps is the ideal contrast as Sophia”
*Kalman Glass played Baroness-“Kalman Glass is A motherly magnificently imperious as Cinderella’s Step-Mother”-
A larger than life character actor I worked with him at the Haymarket, Leicester when he played Squire and King Of Gooseland in “Mother Goose ten years after this pantomime. At the time he explained to me the tradition of a Baroness in “Cinderella” in addition to the Ugly Sisters. He told me it “drew fire” from the “Sisters”, enabling them to be funny and less nasty- a tradition that stayed in Scotland after it vanished from other regions.
“When these two Scots team with that other exiled Scot, Lonnie Donegan for a final comedy scene in the Baron’s house, it is a high spot in entertainment”.
1967-68 Kings Edinburgh Cinderella Stanley Baxter and Ronnie Corbett as The Ugly Sisters.
Cast: Transferred from the previous year-Lynn Kennington (Prince), Louida Vaughn (Fairy Godmother), Kalman Glass (Baroness) Graham Squire (Baron), joined by David Kernan (Buttons), Veronica Page (Cinderella) Pauline Garnee (Dandini) Leigh Foster & Vreni Zullig, Paul Imbusch with The Norman Maen Dancers and the Arthur Blake Singers. The Geraldo Orchestra.
Directed by Freddie Carpenter for Howard & Wyndham. Designed by Berkley Sutcliffe. The Pantomime ran from December 7th 1967 and was extended to February 17th 1968.
“The magic of pantomime is as well realised at the Edinburgh Kings as it can be, essentially because all the factors of good panto are provided from three sources- The Director, Freddie Carpenter, The Designer Berkley Sutcliffe and the performers who have both talent and charm”
“Stanley Baxter and Ronnie Corbett both have warmth and a sense of character which is neatly proportioned to their parts as the Ugly Sisters”
“Berkley Sutcliffe’s costumes are luxurious and his comic costumes are witty in content, instead of being ridiculous. The two comics recognise this advantage, and they play their parts in delighful caricature rather than nonsensical exaggeration”
HOWARD & WYNDHAM THEATRES SOLD
In 1965 Glasgow Council bought The King’s Theatre from Howard & Wyndham. The company had been run by Chairman and Managing Director A. Stewart Cruikshank, with offices at The King’s Edinburgh and London.
In 1904 they built the King’s Glasgow, and created the largest company of quality theatre in Britain. They held shares in Moss Empires, and were major shareholders in HM Tennent & Co, and later were shareholders in STV.
As well as a Pantomime realm that included Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Liverpool, as well as Dundee, Aberdeen and The Royal Court Nottingham. Their Pantomimes, dated back to 1888, and H&W was also responsible for Summer seasons – the first being at The Glasgow King’s in 1933. The “Five Past Eight” and “Half Past Eight” summer shows featured the top Scottish stars.
In the 1970’s Glasgow and Edinburgh councils jointly funded a pantomime sharing scheme, made possible through the huge financial successes of the Stanley Baxter Pantomimes.
In 1978 Charles Tripp for Edinburgh District Council offered hire of scenery, costumes, wigs, properties, scripts and scores for “Jack & The Beanstalk” (Designer Henry Bardon), “Sleeping Beauty” & “Aladdin”, (Tim Goodchild), and “Sinbad” (Designer Berkeley Sutcliffe) to UK Theatres. The following year both councils offered a choice of these plus “Cinderella” for hire at £8,000 for the entire production. The only offer received was from Sunderland (Sleeping Beauty).
By 1980 Glasgow and Edinburgh joined forces with Sunderland Council as partners in their “Pantomime Co-Operation” scheme.
1970-71 King’s Edinburgh Mother Goose Stanley Baxter as Mother Goose. (Minnie McNiven)
Cast: John Grieve, (Hector McTumshie), Ian Paterson, (Larry) Patricia Michael (Colin) , Frances Barlow (Jill), Kay Lyell (Priscilla The Goose), Gaby Vargas,( Queen Of Darkness) Jean Hampson, (Fairy Queen Of Light), The Five Hussani, Brian McNultty,(The Landlord).
The Bruce McCLure Dancers: James Hastie (Ballet Master,) John Gillespie, Bryan Jacobs, Harry Murray, Morag Alexander, Pat Armet, Elizabeth Cavers, Patricia Goodburn, Susan Massey, Carole Robertson, Gillian Sherman, Dorothy Stewart, Rebecca Walker, Victoria Wynn.
The Bruce McClure Singers: Brian McNulty, Kenneth Thompson, Rachelle Armonde, Jane Coull, Monica Hoyer, Allison MacGregor . Kirby’s Flying Effects.
Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McCLure for Howard & Wyndham. Scenery by Reg Allen, Lighting Bill Cousins.
“Like a sumptuous Christmas Dinner!” (The Stage January 1971)
The Pantomime ran from December 19th 1970 to End Of February 1971.
“As the star of the panto Stanley Baxter is an ideal choice for such a family entertainment. His sheer comic genius, plus a bewildering succession of costume changes is hugely entertaining for the youngsters, while the older folk are able to relish his skill and artistry as a mimic, not least in his devastating impersonation of Marlene Dietrich.”
He performed his “Parliamo Glasgow” sketch, made famous in his TV Series. Ian Paterson presented a Harry Lauder tribute and audience sing-a-long.
“As Stanley Baxter’s foil, John Grieve wins lots of laughs with his own inimitable mournful style of humour”
“Patricia Michael and Frances Barlow make an ideal Principal Boy and Girl, while Kay Lyell waddles realistically as Priscilla The Goose”
Patricia Michael – Leading Lady of The West End and one of the finest Principal Boys in Pantomime – trained at the Elmhurst Ballet School from 1952 until 1958 then graduated to Guildhall School of Music and Drama, leaving in 1960.
By then, she had already begun to establish herself as a favourite in pantomime, debuting as one of six Clarkson Rosebuds in Clarkson Rose’s Robinson Crusoe in Exeter in 1957, followed by Fairy Godmother in a Southsea production of Cinderella with John Hanson (with whom she would go on to one of her great successes). In fact, she worked consistently in pantomime throughout her career, playing principal boy to, among others, Ken Dodd, Stanley Baxter (4 times) and Jimmy Logan.
The same year, she became one of the Crackerjack Team on BBC childrens’ television as a hostess-singer and by Christmas 1960 she was playing the title role in Robinson Crusoe at the Theatre Royal, Windsor, and Dandini in “Cinderella” at Bromley.
For more detail’s of her career in theatre and musicals, take a look at http://patriciamichael.net/ and put the speakers on to hear that glorious voice!
Her West end credits include “Fiorello!” At The Piccadilly Theatre, “How to Succeed in Business without really trying” at The Shaftesbury Theatre, “ Polly in “The Boy Friend” at The Comedy Theatre, The Desert Song at The Palace Theatre, “Gone With The Wind” at Drury Lane, and the role of Anna in “The King & I” at the Adelphi, followed by the title role in “Irene” again at the Adelphi ,”The Mitford Girls” at The Globe Theatre, and her final west End appearance in “Peg” at The Phoenix Theatre.
Patricia’s final Pantomime appearance was with Danny La Rue in 1984 playing Principal Boy in “Mother Goose”, and shortly afterwards she left for The United States to appear in Theatre,and in recent years introduced the art of British Pantomime into America presenting traditional Pantomime Stateside! Patricia Michael is alive and well and still living in The United States of America!
1971-72 King’s Glasgow Mother Goose Stanley Baxter as Mother Goose
Cast: As previous year- John Grieve, (Squire), Ian Paterson,(The Puppeteer) Patricia Michael (Colin), Kay Lyell (Priscilla The Goose) and the SEVEN Hussani. Joining the company were Georgina Gilman,(Crystal Fairy), Claire Herbert,( Jill), and Cynthia Grenville. (The Witch- Queen Of Darkness).
Directed by Bruce McLure for Howard & Wyndham.
Prior to this pantomime Bruce MacLure directed “The Stanley Baxter Show” or Howard & Wyndham at His Majesty’s Aberdeen, a month long run.
The pantomime ran from 24th December to the end of February 1972
*There is no copy of the Christmas reviews in the Stage Archive for 13th January 1972 . The cast list is from the stage weekly listing. It is not the full cast list.
Local Press: “It’s Baxter at his best!”
“Stanley Baxter returned home last night to his warmest welcome ever”
Kay Lyellwho played “Priscilla The Goose” had been appearing as a Goose or Pantomime Animal since 1953. Scots born, she was the daughter of a Doctor in Perth. By the time of this pantomime she had played animals onstage for seventeen years.
She began as a dancer in the Howard & Wyndham Pantomimes.
In later years I stored Kay’s Goose Costume at the Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford. She lived in a tiny flat in the heart of the West End, very close to “Theatre Zoo” (a co-incidence!) that specialised in Animal costumes. She really needed the space during the year, so I stored “Priscilla” with her bonnets, bibs and webbed feet for many years. Kay would have it collected each season.
Kay appeared with Patricia Michael in this Mother Goose, (1970 and 1971) and again in Plymouth in 1984 with Patricia Michael again as Colin and Danny La Rue as Mother Goose. That would have been Kay’s 31st year as A Pantomime Animal Speciality!
1972-73 Newcastle Theatre Royal Mother Goose Stanley Baxter as Mother Goose, Bernard Bresslaw and Mark Wynter (Colin. Principal Boy).
Cast: Kay Lyell (Priscilla The Goose), Melanie Munro (Jill), Louise Pajo,(Fairy Queen) Monica Hoyer, (Witch) The Seven Hussani, The Wychwoods, Brian McNulty, Joyce McCrindle.
The First Stanley Baxter Pantomime South of The Border!
Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McClure for Howard & Wyndham. Sets & Costumes Anthony Holland. Stage Director Russel Laing, Musical Director Ivan Dozin. The Panto Opened on December 19th 1972.
“All the glitter glamour, gaiety and fun of the traditional Christmas Pantomime, the kind without a string of variety acts, are part and parcel of the festive offering at The Royal”
This Pantomime echoed the prediction of Stanley’s former Director, Freddie Carpenter, when he said Principal Boys would be played by men within a decade. Mark Wynter played Colin in this production.
“Stanley Baxter- One of the best Pantomime Dame performances in the business”
The Press especially praised his appearance as Marlene Dietrich, and his sketch appearing “as a promiscuous Brownie”, and acknowledged the support of Bernard Bresslaw, of “Carry On Fame” in the comedy routines.
“Old style Pantomime with plenty of audience participation and fun is still alive and kicking!”
Monica Hoyer, who played The Witch in This Pantomime, was in fact Lady Coldstream, married to the eminent artist and head of Slade Arts School, Sir William Coldstream. She was his model, and later an artist herself. She married Sir William in 1960.
This season Howard & Wyndham produced Six Pantomimes- Newcastle with Stanley Baxter, Glasgow with Denny Willis, Leeds Grand starring Les Dawson, The King’s Edinburgh had Jimmy Logan topping the bill and at Norwich George Chisholm and Hope & Keen completed their shows.
1973-74 Leeds Grand Theatre Mother Goose Stanley Baxter as Mother Goose. (Minnie McNiven)
Cast: Cardew Robinson, (Hector Small The Provost), Gillian Humphreys (Colin), Susan Mosco (Jill), Loise Pajo (Fairy Queen Of Light), Jill Hope (Witch, Queen of Darkness), Kay Lyell (Priscilla The Goose), Tommy De Ve & Vera (Unicyclists), Leigh Marsh & Her Poodles, The Singers: Juliet Lawrence, Tony Mandelle, Bryan Strachan, Valerie Wayne .Bob Wilson (Landlord & Co Stage Manager).
The Bruce McClure Dancers: Pat Armet, Helen Bon, Susan Carmichael, Angela Giblin, Andie Lowe, Georgina McDermott Alexandra Neale, Audrey Smith, Marilyn Smith, Madeline Zebciukas, Jim Hastie, Harry Murray, Des Toner.
Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McCLure. Musical Director Gordon Rolfe.
“Stanley Baxter must be one of this country’s great dames” (The Guardian)
“Of all of Stanley Baxter’s brilliant character studies, possibly his finest is Mother Goose” (Yorkshire Morning Post)
Cardew Robinson had appeared with Stanley Baxter in the film “And Father Came Too” in 1964.
“The dancers are a lively lot, with tricky routines- cavorting clowns and animals as in a circus..”
“This production of Bruce McCLure has prompted some of the best singing and most exciting dancing heard and seen in a Leeds pantomime in years!” (Yorkshire Morning Post.)
This season Howard & Wyndham presented seven shows:
Leeds with Stanley Baxter, Manchester Opera House with Ken Dodd, Newcastle “Aladdin” with Pat Kirkwood, Denny Willis and Bryan Burdon, while Glasgow King’s had Jimmy Logan in “Cinderella”, at Edinburgh Rikki Fulton appeared in “Robinson Crusoe”, and The Oxford New had Terry Scott in “Babes In The Wood” with Gordon & Bunny Jay. The Royal Court Liverpool had Anita Harris starring as “Peter Pan” with Alan Curtis as Captain Hook.
1975-76 King’s Edinburgh Jack & The Beanstalk Stanley Baxter as Dame Lizzie Trotter.
Cast: Patricia Michael (Jack), John Mulvane, (Simple Simon) Susan Maudslay (Nicola) , Sarah Collier (Floral Fairy), Roland McCleod (Duke of Ambrosia), Helen Norman (Lady Longstone/Crone), Michael Kilgarriff (Giant Draculstein), The Wychwoods, Pat Armet (Gypsy Dancer), Terence Matkin (Village Youth), Brian Kinnaird (Footman), Philip Crowther (Athlete),
The Bruce McClure Dancers: Pat Armet, Elizabeth Cavers Hazel Elliott, Brenda Handley, Veronica Langton, Audrey Smith, Vicki Wynn, Philip Crowther, Tim Curtis.
Singers: Caroline Bernstein, Alison McFarlane, Patty Tootell, Terence Matkin, Brian Kinnaird, David Glyn Rodgers.
Director & Choreographer, Bruce McClure. Musical Director Patrick McCann, Costumes by Anthony Holland, Scenery by Henry Bardon, Lighting Francis Reid. Book by John Morley. This Pantomime was not a Howard & Wyndham Production. It was presented by The Edinburgh & Lothian Theatre Trust Ltd at the King’s Theatre.
The Pantomime opened December 11th 1975
*The dancers wages in 1975 were £40 a week as advertised in “The Stage” auditions page.
Helen Norman was a veteran performer- she began her career as Principal Boy, was the leading lady in Scottish revues, and a long time comic feed to Jack Radcliffe and to Jimmy Logan.
Patricia Michael recalls- “ In the 1975 “Jack & The Beanstalk” Dear Helen Norman was both Lady Longstone in Act I and Crone in Act II. She was 68 at the time. She was living in an Old Folks Home from where she had to get special permission to be out late for the panto which amused Stanley immensely. She was a regal and haughty Lady Longstone but was brave enough to take out her false teeth as Crone which completely changed her face. She revelled in this transformation cackling away like mad and baring her gums at every opportunity. People who saw the show said she was “totally adorable” and “almost stole the show.”
Another memory of Patricia Michael- During the 1975 Season of “Jack” I had mentioned that Stanley and I had developed a very good friendship and it was a happy circumstance that our dressing rooms at the King’s Theatre Edinburgh were right next door to each other. He was often in my room, on one occasion opening a drawer which contained a pharmacopeia of pills, he exclaimed, “Oh now that’s much worse than me!” Every Saturday night during the interval of the second show Stanley would come into my room bearing two glasses of champagne. “It’s medicinal” he claimed, “We need it to get through the last act of the week and we deserve it.” On one such occasion, Roland Macleod who was “Clarence, Tenth Duke of Ambrosia” happened to also visit my room and we immediately offered him a glass of champagne. “Oh no” he said, “I never drink during a show.” Stanley’s and my eyes opened wide in horror, “Neither do we” we said in unison!
John Mulvaney who played Simple Simon had played Dame the previous year at The Gaiety Ayr. He was to go on, covering for Stanley Baxter a few times during the two years of this Pantomime’s run at Edinburgh and Glasgow.This was Patricia Michael’s 4th visit to Edinburgh- her previous pantomime with Stanley Baxter was “Mother Goose” at The King’s. She had appeared in “The Five Past Eight” Revue in this City in 1970 as Principal singer. Bruce McClure invited her to appear in Pantomime after this season
1976-77 King’s Glasgow Jack & The Beanstalk Stanley Baxter as Dame Lizzie Trotter.
Cast: Patricia Michael (Jack), Rosemary Williams (Nicola ), Peter Kelly ( Simple Simon), Helen Norman (Lady Longstone/Crone), Valerie Fyfer (Fairy) Roland MacLeod (Duke of Ambrosia), Michael Kilgarriff (Giant Draculstein), Leigh Marsh’s Poodles, Stanley Pettigrew & Shaun Johnstone (Daisy The Cow), Pat Armet (Principal Dancer & Gypsy Girl)
The Bruce McClure Dancers- Rhona Clelland, Veronica Langton, Audrey Smith, Eva Troth, Rebecca Walker, Pauline Laverty, Des Toner & Tim Curtis.
This pantomime was not a Howard & Wyndham Production. It was presented by The Glasgow District Council.
Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McClure. Anthony Holland Costumes, Henry Bardon Scenery. Musical Director Gordon Rolfe. Stage Director Malcolm Norton, Stage Manager Justin Adams, Resident Stage Manager Alec Dunlop.
“His gorgeous extrovert Dame studies, his knowledgeable local patter and patois and his flair s Dame Lizzie Trotter makes one of Glasgow’s happiest Pantomimes for some years”
In the Pantomime Stanley Baxter appeared in many guises, including Baroness Birdseye (a nod to his Television commercials), and Margaret Thatcher! He received praise for his colourful budgerigar costume in the show.
“Patricia Michael chooses charming songs for her Jack Trotter Principal Boy part. Rosemary Williams is a talented Principal Girl”
The Speciality act presented by Leigh Marsh saw a collection of poodles, dalmations and a feisty tiny Jack Russell.
Peter Kelly was making his Panto appearance with Stanley Baxter directly from the Citizens Theatre- his first Pantomime away from the venue that had nurtured Stanley back in the late 1940’s and early ‘50’s. He would later play Widow Twankey in the 1978 “Aladdin” with Jimmy Logan and Patricia Michael.
On Boxing Day ITV showed “Stanley Baxter’s Christmas Box”
1977-78 Manchester Opera House Jack & The Beanstalk Stanley Baxter as Dame Lizzie Trotter. Christopher Beeny as Simple Simon.
Cast: Vivienne McKee (Jack), Penny Mackay (Nicola), Michael Kilgarriff (Giant Draculstein), Roland McLeod (Duke of Ambrosia), Linda Whiteford (Floral Fairy), Doreen Driver (Lady Longstone/Crone), Leigh Marsh’s Poodles, Pat Armet (Principal Dancer). Robert Barrington & Stanley Pettigrew (Daisy The Cow), The Bruce McClure Dancers & Singers. Pat Armet, Barbara Jane, Kandy Van Dee, Jane Brown, Gillian Hamer, Margaret Lowe, Karen Berry, Kay Jones, Debby Lloyd, Des Tower, Adrian Lee. The Singers: Christina Aitch, Paulette Hegney, Alexandra Denman, Neil Parker, Gary Kines, David Barclay.
Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McClure. Sets by Henry Bardon. Costumes by Anthony Holland.
Howard & Wyndham owned the Opera House Manchester, and were intending to close it. Moss Empires owned and were closing The Palace Theatre across town. The Stage Review 12/1/78 “this might be the last such show ever to be staged at this splendid theatre. If this should prove to be the case- which all the gods forbid-Pantomime here ends its reign not with a whimper but a bang!”
Edinburgh District Council owned the rights “Jack & The Beanstalk” and took the unusual step on underwriting this Pantomime, (£100,000 ) and presenting it at The Manchester Opera House, under the title: Staged by Howard & Wyndham by arrangement with Edinburgh District Council”. It was possibly the first time a local council had presented a production of this kind outside of their district.
It appeared the rival Palace would be closed, but Ken Dodd put on his “Laughter Show” and ran it for four weeks, in an attempt to “Save The Palace”.
“Stanley Baxter- his Lizzie Trotter is a warm hearted homely personality, with the requisite touch of pathos”
This was Stanley Baxters first appearance here since 1961. In This Pantomime he and Christopher Beeney appeared as a couple of budgerigars, and there were several comic references to “Upstairs Downstairs”. (Chris Beeney played Edward the footman in the series from 1971-1975)
On Christmas Eve 1977 ITV showed “Bing Crosby’s Merrie Old Christmas”, a television special recorded in the UK five weeks before Bing Crosby died. In this Bing Crosby meets the cast of “Upstairs Downstairs”, played entirely by Stanley Baxter, and it featured Ron Moody as Dickens and Twiggy.
The Stage review on the Pantomime: “It is as full of good things as a well made Christmas Pudding”
That year Bruce McClure was to oversee three Pantomimes- Stanley Baxter at Manchester, Rikki Fulton in “Sleeping Beauty” at Glasgow Kings, and Jimmy Logan in “Aladdin” at The King’s Edinburgh.
1979-80 King’s Edinburgh Cinderella Stanley Baxter as Natalie, Ugly Sister with Angus Lennie as Sophia, Ugly Sister.
Cast: Phil Clarke jnr (Buttons), Mandy Martin (Prince Charming), Martin Dell, Elaine Gibbs, Ann Kidd, Jeanna L’Esty, Roland MacLeod , The Bruce McClure Singers & Dancers, Sir Robert Fossett’s Royal Cream Ponies.
Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McClure. Designed by Berkeley Sutcliffe, Lighting Andre Tammes, Musical Director Pat McCann.
Angus Lennie was known to viewers as chef “Shughie MacFee” in the popular tea time soap “Crossroads”. A fellow Glaswegian, he was the perfect foil for Stanley Baxter, a small dapper character actor, who had worked opposite Steve McQueen in the film “The Great Escape”, and Attenborough’s film of “Oh! What A Lovely War!” He started his career in The Logan Family Shows at The Metropolitan, Glasgow as a dancer.
Phil Clarke from Edinburgh, appeared on Scottish Television/Thames Television in the lunchtime variety show “Hello, Good Afternoon and Welcome” with Allan Stewart and Kristine.
1980-1981 King’s Glasgow Cinderella Stanley Baxter as Natalie, Ugly Sister with Angus Lennie as Sophia, Ugly Sister.
Cast: Phil Clarke (Buttons), Mandy Martin (Prince Charming), Roy Boutcher (Bron Fontainbleu),
Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McClure. Designed by Berkeley Sutcliffe.
These designs from the V&A collection of Anthony Holland’s creations for Stanley Baxter. the collections can be found at https://collections.vam.ac.uk/
Search for Anthony Holland/Stanley Baxter
The Stage Archive has no listing for the Christmas edition
Roy Boutcher was at this time the husband of Una Mclean, who appeared in many shows with Stanley Baxter.
1982-1983 King’s Edinburgh Mother Goose Stanley Baxter as Minnie McNiven, Mother Goose with Angus Lennie as Glaikit Gussie.
Cast: Marie Gordon-Price (Colin), Margo Cunningham , Christina Matthews, Juliet Cadzow, Leon Sinden (Squire), John Ramage (Priscilla The Goose), Roger Stevenson’s Puppets, The Bruce McClure Singers & Dancers.
Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McClure. Musical Director Gordon Rolfe. Designed by Terry Parsons.
The Pantomime ran from December 9th 1982 to February 19th 1983.
On a personal note, I had played “Priscilla” The Goose at Coventry and Leicester Pantomimes, in a production designed by Terry Parsons. Terry’s sets and costumes dripped with ostrich feathers and glitter, and my Goose “skin” was magnificent. My agent Keith was contacted by Bruce McClure about possibly playing Goose in this show, in Terry’s Goose Costume, but by now I had moved on to playing Ugly Sister with Peter Robbins- twenty-eight years in fact!
I ran into Terry this year at Barnett Lawson, a shop specialising (as it does today) in trimmings and feathers. Terry had shopping trolleys crammed with Ostrich feather and cards of bugle beads and crystals. “Is that for the Girls finale ?” I asked “No”, Terry replied, “This is just for Stanley!”. He told me the budget for this show (thirty-eight years ago) was £100,000. No expense was spared!
1983-1984 King’s Glasgow Mother Goose Stanley Baxter as Minnie McNiven with Angus Lennie as Glaikit Gussie.
Cast: Marie Gordon-Price (Colin), Alyson McInnes (Jill), Leon Sinden (Squire), John Ramage (Priscilla The Goose), Pavlov’s Puppets, The Bruce McClure Singers & Dancers.
Directed & Choreographed by Bruce McClure. Musical Director Gordon Rolfe. Designed by Terry Parsons.
“Stanley Baxter is now among the foremost Dames in Britain”
“His teaming with little Angus Lennie is a most happy one!”
In this Pantomime Stanley Baxter transformed in the Pool Of Beauty as Dolly Parton, and appeared in his familiar Brownie character. He and Angus Lennie performed the Cod Ballet, and Stanley again brought the house down with his “Parliamo Glasgow!”
1984-1985 Sunderland Empire Mother Goose Stanley Baxter as Minnie McNivern- Mother Goose
Cast: John Ramage ( Glaikit Gussie ), Joy Launor Heys (Colin), Carol Sagar (Jill), Derek Wright (Demon), Kathy Ryan (Priscilla The Goose), Janet Wantling, Vivien Ingham, Pavlov’s Puppets.
Presented by Russell Hills for Sunderland Empire and the Edinburgh/Glasgow councils. The Pantomime ran from December 17th 1984 to February 2nd 1985. Written by Stanley Baxter & Russel Lane, Adapted by Alan Curtis.
Directed by Stanley Baxter and Nick Kirkpatrick. Choreographed by Kathy Ryan. Musical Director George Hastings. Scenery & Costumes Terry Parsons.
“Most especially it has a succession of superb sets and costumes by Terry Parsons which make it worthwhile dusting down that overworked word “Lavish” from my critical vocabulary”
This was Stanley Baxter’s first pantomime without Bruce McClure since 1970.
“One of the best Dames in the country, with the good taste and good sense not to try to cash in on material familiar on another medium- Yes, I do mean Television..”
1985-1986 King’s Edinburgh Aladdin Stanley Baxter as Widow Twankey.
Cast: Alan Curtis (Abanazar), John Ramage (Wishee Washee), Arhlene Allan (Aladdin), Safka Green (Princess Tai-Lu), Bill Clement, (Emperor). The Hassanis.
Presented by City Of Edinburgh District Council. The Pantomime ran from December 7th 1985 to February 22nd 1986. Directed by Stanley Pettigrew. Choreography Pat Armet.
Costumes by Bushy Westfallen. Scenery by Terry Parsons. Lighting Michael Northen. Musical Director Patrick McCann.
“Any pantomime starring Stanley Baxter and Alan Curtis is a bit like firing a pistol into a room filled with targets- you can’t fail to hit the mark!”
Director Stanley Pettigrew began his career as the Front end of Daisy The Cow with Stanley Baxter in 1977, then was cast as Principal Comic, and now Director.
Alan Curtis, along with Alfred Marx was acknowledged as the finest Panto Villain of the time. His speciality was playing Captain Hook, a role he played more than any other. A member of the Players Theatre, in Charing Cross, famous for Music Hall and a unique pantomime in rhyming couplets, he regularly appeared and directed there. The theatre was the forerunner of BBC’s “The Good Old Days” and the long running TV show featured many members of “The Players Theatre”.
John Ramage – Wishee Washee in this pantomime, he had previously played Goose twice for Stanley Baxter, and in Sunderland replaced Angus Lennie in the role of Glaikit Gussie. He had appeared in plays at Perth, Edinburgh, and directed at The Edinburgh Festival.
Patricia Michael’s name appears on handbills for this Pantomime, although by the spring of this year she had already left for The United States and was in a long running production of “Noises Off”. The printers had “Jumped The Gun!” She completed her Pantomime in 1985 at Plymouth with Danny La Rue in “Mother Goose” and left for the States that month.
Stanley Baxter’s Television contracts changed to ITV for a two year exclusive deal for Christmas Specials and half hour weekly series. This was the first change since 1971.
1986-1987 King’s Glasgow Aladdin Stanley Baxter as Widow Twankey
Cast: Alan Curtis (Abanazar), John Ramage (Wishee Washee), Judith Hibbert (Aladdin), Fletcher Mathers (Princess Tai-Lu), Simone Lahbib,(So-Shy), Bill Clement,(Emperor), Euan McIver (Grand Vizier), Alex Craig (Genie of the Lamp).
The Singers: Aiden Bell, Pamela Baxter, Iain Campbell, Phillip Wrigley, Florence Moore, Christopher Mason, Francis Davidson, Sybil Wintrope. The Dancers: Patsy Murray (Head Girl), Alex Craig, Shirley Crosbie, Valerie Goldie, Kay Hoggan, David Jon-Fergus, Marie McElhinney, Rory Moore, Blair Murray, Jonathan Parsons, Colin Sangster, Margaret Turner.
Presented by Glasgow City Council & The King’s Theatre.
Directed by Stanley Baxter, Choreographed by Rhona Clelland. Musical Director Jill Stewart. An orchestra of Eleven). Designer Terry Parsons. Lighting George Armstrong. CSM James Ross.DSM Sarah Kerr.
This year celebrated Stanley Baxter’s 40 Years in Show Business.
“A beautifully wrapped Chinese take-away filled with rich delights which will linger in the memory as Glasgow’s most brilliant panto in many a year”
The pantomime took £4468,591 at the box office between November 24th 1986 and February 7th 1987. As was the tradition in Scotland, they played Christmas Day- one late matinee performance.
“ Our city’s famous “Glasgow’s Miles Better” slogan is made all the more apt by Stanley Baxter’s happy return to home ground in “Aladdin” at The King’s.”
John Ramage partnered Stanley Baxter in a “King & I” sketch “Shall We Dance.”. Judith Hibbert partnered Stanley Baxter in his by now legendary “Parliamo Glasgow” sketch.
“Judith Hibbert and Fletcher Mathers (who’s feminine despite that first name) are charming and tuneful as Aladdin and his Princess love”
JUDITH HIBBERT RECALLS:
Judith Hibbert played Principal Boy in the 1986 Pantomime Aladdin. She was a member of The Player’s Theatre London, and Alan Curtis (Playing Ananazar for the second season) put her name forward to Stanley Baxter.
Judith remembers arriving at the audition , and described it as like something out of The X Factor. Queues snaking outside the building all auditioning for the role of “Aladdin”. Due to Alan’s recommendation she got seen withing the hour, and changed into an audition outfit. “Alan told me “He’ll want to see your legs”, as Principal Boys wore short tunics and, in Judith’s case at only 5’4” high heels!
She was “Green as grass” in her own words, and terrified of auditioning for this Television and Stage Icon. She sang “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”. It was a Saturday, and by the Monday morning she had a call from The King’s Glasgow to offer her the role
It was her first Major Pantomime, and her first leading role. Alan Curtis had told her that she should be “Off the book”- without script by the first day of rehearsals. Not knowing any different, Judith arrived for the first day with every word learnt. Stanley was sitting behind a table, in Director role, and the rehearsals began. He “topped and tailed” scenes and then he gestured to her “And now Aladdin Enters….”
“I’d left the script on the chair, and started the scene. Everyone else had done it before- I was the new comer. The first lines were “Well, whose for sweetmeats”, and the scene continued. Wishee (John Ramage) entered reading from his script, as was everyone else- I was thrilled to hear the words spoken, as I’d only heard them in my head. I was quaking with fear and carried on saying the lines until Stanley said it was time to stop and have lunch.He said “Thank you Judith” and I left the building shaking, returning for Act Two.
Alan Curtis later revealed that, as Judith left for lunch shaking, Stanley turned to the company and exclaimed “Oh *!#!, we’d ALL better learn this!” The next day she noticed everyone was off the script!
Stanley Baxter and the art of timing a laugh: “I will always be thankful for everything he taught me- most particularly about standing still on the stage and when delivering a comedy feed line, to deliver it out front and always on an upward inflection, and then turning quickly back to him for the laugh line…. And to wait until the laughter (he described it as a fountain of water falling down), and just before it reached the bottom to turn back out front and deliver the next line. Andonce it was rehearsed and worked to perfection, never to change it!”
The Stage:“Alan Curtis is an Abanazar whose panache and entertaining insulting exchanges with the audience make it clear why he’s rated Britain’s King of Panto Villainy”
Between 1988 and 1990 Stanley Baxter appeared in STV’s children’s series “Mr Majeika”, it featured Claire Sawyer, Richard Murdock, Roland McLeod(he appeared in several Pantomimes with Stanley Baxter), Simeon Pearl, Eve Ferret, Andrew Reed and Miriam Margolyes.
1990-1991 King’s Edinburgh Cinderella Stanley Baxter as Natalie, Ugly Sister with Angus Lennie as Sophia, Ugly Sister.
Directed & Written by Stanley Baxter. Choreography by Sheridan Nicol.
Designed by Terry Parsons.
Stanley Baxter once again teamed up with Angus Lennie.
“The Sets and Costumes are Gorgeous”
Costumes designed by Terry Parson for Stanley Baxter were often made by my friend Paddy Dickie. Paddy made the lavish finale costumes and in Stanley’s case, also the character costumes for some of his Television specials. She and her Mother Mary worked from a vast attic room in Chiswick- she made for Terry Scott and Billy Dainty regularly. In my collection I have a few of Paddy’s creations, and the V&A Museum has some of her costumes for Billy Dainty’s “Dick Whittington”.
Other costume creators for Terry Parsons included Gerald Cheshire, the master theatrical milliner, Jeannie Fletcher who specialises in “Objects” from Plastazote- Stanley’s Ice-Cream costume for instance, and Mark Wheeler- his animal heads made for this production and he ones he made for me for a “Cinderella” were stunning. Stanley’s Pantomimes employed the top crafts-people!
Alyson McInnes, playing Cinderella began her career as a 15 year old in the Scottish group “Sunshine”.
“The name Stanley Baxter above the title in this year’s pantomime at The King’s is enough to have the audiences fighting for seats”
Barnaby began his career as a Butlin’s Redcoat, and appeared on Granada TV’s “Fame Game” which he won seven times. His son Barney Harwood presented Blue Peter and appeared on CBBS, with many Pantomime appearances. Father (Barnaby) played Mr Smee to his son (Barney’s) Peter Pan at The Lichfield Garrick .
STANLEY BAXTER’S PANTOMIME SWANSONG
1991-1992 King’s Glasgow Cinderella Stanley Baxter as Natalie, Ugly Sister with Angus Lennie as Sophia Ugly Sister.
Presented by the City Of Glasgow. Written and Directed by Stanley Baxter.
Choreographed by Rhona Cleland. Musical Director Jill Stewart. Designed by Terry Parsons.The Pantomime transferred from the previous year’s season at Edinburgh.
“If big is beautiful and lavish décor and costumes spell the full entertainment at Pantomime, this is one”
This Pantomime at The King’s Glasgow , was, by his choosing, his final one.
“Stanley shines with all his long time talent as a gorgeously gowned Natalie”
Stanley Baxter began his Pantomime journey in Glasgow forty-one years previously, at the Citizens Theatre. His career took him from Radio into Television, with series after series of peak time lavish spectaculars and Christmas Specials, through Film and Royal Command performances, Plays and revues in the West End, and a lifetime of guaranteeing quality in everything he appeared in- most especially Pantomime.
For those fabulous forty odd years of Pantomime perfection, we thank you Stanley Baxter!
Qdos Entertainment and LW Theatres have today (9 October 2020) announced that this Christmas Julian Clary and Elaine Paige will take us on a magical trip to Pantolandat The Palladium. Performances will begin at the world-famous theatre on 12 December 2020 running until 3 January 2021, with tickets on sale from 10am today.
The London Palladium, the home of pantomime, will welcome back panto favourites Paul Zerdin,Nigel Havers and Gary Wilmot, as well as past stars Ashley Banjo & Diversity and Charlie Stemp. Making their debut will be West End sensations Beverley Knight and Jac Yarrow.
Returning for a fifth consecutive year, The London Palladium pantomime has become an essential part of Christmas in the West End, with record-breaking box office success year-after-year. Pantoland at The Palladium, devised by Michael Harrison, will be a treasure-trove of The London Palladium panto past and exciting new surprises written especially for the show, guaranteeing an unmissable treat for panto and musical theatre fans alike.
Celebrating the very best of pantomime, with comedy in abundance, this star-filled extravaganza will play to a socially-distanced audience. The show will feature the work of Olivier Award-Winning Team director Michael Harrison, choreographer Karen Bruce, set designer Ian Westbrook, costume designer Hugh Durrant, lighting designer Ben Cracknell, sound designer Gareth Owen and composer and orchestrator Gary Hind.
The production at The Palladium has been made possible as a result of a creative initiative announced by The National Lottery today which it hopes will enable hundreds of thousands of theatregoers to enjoy socially distanced pantomime this Christmas in theatres across the nation. The initiative will see The National Lottery buy seats that need to remain empty to enable social-distancing, complying with relevant government and public health guidance. By making it viable for theatres to open their doors to the general public, up to 250,000 tickets are expected to be available, with more than 20,000 free tickets available for National Lottery players and the rest to go on sale. This will generate vital income for theatres and help restore jobs – while providing much-needed cheer for panto lovers at Christmas.
Pantoland at The Palladium is the first of a number of productions at theatres across the country to be announced, with further venues to be confirmed in the coming weeks.
Director and Producer Michael Harrison said:
”Pantoland at The Palladium promises to be a spectacular and exciting celebration of this wonderful art form that has been so devastated and decimated by COVID-19.
There is no doubt producing a show of this size and scale is a risk – but it is a risk we have to take. This is not a long term fix, nor a solution to the tragic situation our industry is in, it simply provides a sticking plaster on a very big theatrical wound as we hopefully prepare for full openings in 2021.
As well as bringing our wonderful audiences back, we want to play our part in the rehabilitation of London’s vibrant West End. The production is made possible by the sheer goodwill, determination and courage of so many people – thanks to them over 200 people will now have jobs over Christmas.”
Chairman of Qdos Entertainment, Nick Thomas added:
“I’m delighted that Qdos Entertainment is able to return to The London Palladium this Christmas. Having produced more than 750 pantomimes across the UK over the past 37 years, it would have been unthinkable for us to have a Christmas without the magic of panto. Thanks to our partnership with The London Palladium we are able to give tens of thousands of theatregoers the opportunity to enjoy some very much needed theatrical magic with their families this Christmas.”
Andrew Lloyd Webber said:
“Christmas 2020 needs a Pantomime, and this one at The London Palladium has never meant so much to our industry and our audiences. LW Theatres operates as a not-for-profit and we are delighted that The National Lottery’s support will enable Qdos Entertainment and Producer/Director Michael Harrison to stage this socially distanced production at The London Palladium, alongside many others across the nation.
Opening Pantoland at The Palladium will provide crucial support to struggling restaurants, hotels and other hospitality businesses across the West End, leading to thousands of vital jobs on stage, off stage and backstage.
Since theatres were closed in March, we have spent considerable time, effort and money, making The London Palladium Covid-secure. Using all our knowledge and experiences from around the world, we ran a pilot at The London Palladium for Public Health England and the government to demonstrate that theatres can be a safe environment for our audiences.
By next Spring, our major productions across London’s beloved West End must – and will – be back. I sincerely hope that this pantomime brings a moment of much-needed festive cheer as we continue to fight for the revival of our wonderful and vital theatre industry.”
Chief Executive of LW Theatres, Rebecca Kane Burton said:
“After months of uncertainty, it is nothing short of a miracle that we shall, after all, be staging a panto at The London Palladium. We have worked tirelessly since our first pilot event in July to demonstrate that we can operate The London Palladium safely.
We have all the measures in place to ensure people feel safe, confident and, most importantly, excited to be back with us. Since our first shows in September, we have been blown away by the responses of our audiences. I can’t wait to see the panto lovers back with us for the joyful tradition of pantomime at The London Palladium.”
The London Palladium is an official government pilot venue, working to demonstrate that theatres can open and operate fully within the current coronavirus and social distancing guidance. Performances of Pantoland at The Palladium will run in accordance with a wide suite of health and safety measures (including reconfiguration of seating across the venue and the mandatory wearing of face coverings) that keep audiences, staff and crews safe.
Pantoland at The Palladium is produced by Michael Harrison and Nick Thomas for Qdos Entertainment. As the world’s biggest pantomime producer, over the past 38 years Qdos Entertainment has established itself as one of the largest entertainment companies in Europe. Over the past three decades the pantomime giant has staged 754 pantomimes.
Hugh Durrant, designer of fabulous costumes and indeed scenery for Qdos is one of four nominees for the prestigious Olivier Awards which take place on ITV on Sunday 25th October.
Hugh is nominated for the incredible and over-the-top costumes he created for Julian Clary in the Michael Harrison Qdos Panto “Goldilocks & The Three Bears” at The London Palladium.
Here are just a few of Hugh’s creations from this show.!
Hugh joins fellow nominees Jonathan Lipman (Fiddler at The Playhouse), Joanna Scotcher (Emilia at The Vaudeville) and Paloma Young (Juliet at The Shaftesbury) on the night- filmed at the Palladium and screened on ITV.