Here are a few more recent Pantomime Flyers that I’ve acquired- the first three have “Freddie & The Dreamers” in common- Freddie Garrity topped the bill in the Leeds Grand “Cinderella”, and Freddie and his group The Dreamers Top the bill in the Pavilion Bournemouth “Aladdin”, and Freddie and The Dreamers topped the bill at the Gaumont Theatre in Doncaster- 1968.
Freddie Garrity – Born in 1936,Freddie Garrity founded “Freddie and The Dreamers” in 1959, They were, In Freddie’s words “the first group to leap about and do comedy on stage”. They made their first broadcast in 1961 and had their debut at Liverpool’s Cavern Club in 1962.
1963 was the groups major year- they auditioned for EMI and their demo was thought good enough to release- “If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody” shot to number 3 in the charts.
Freddie and the Dreamers first panto was 1963. The Royalty Theatre Chester in “Cinderella”. That year their huge hit “You Were Made For Me” came out that Christmas and went to Number 3 in the charts.
The same year Freddie and the group were in a film “What A Crazy World” with Marty Wilde and Joe Brown. 1964 they released hits “Over You” and “Just For You”.
Our feature “Popstars In Panto” can be found in the articles section. It covers many of the pop stars who appeared in Pantomime over the years.
In 1965 Freddie And The Dreamers starred in “Aladdin” at The Palace Theatre Manchester. The panto also starred singer Des O’Connor. That year Freddie released the film “Every Day’s A Holiday”, and he and the Dreamers had a further two hit records in the charts.
In 1967 Freddie & The Dreamers starred in “Cinderella” at the ABC Stockton.
“Little Big Time” made Freddie Garrity a children’s TV star. The show ran for nearly three years to 1973.
He played Wishee Washee with Lulu at Oxford New Theatre in “Aladdin”, 1976.
In the 1980’s Freddie played Jack in “Jack and The Beanstalk” frequently for John Farrow. He played the Oxford Apollo with Anne Charleston, Alvin Stardust and with Lynsey de Paul.
Peter Thorne would often play Dame Trott. I hired a panto cow to this pantomime and had to repair the unspeakable things that Freddie attached to it during its short trip to Pantoland! It would have “Not Wanted On The Voyage” stuck on its side, or large stickers saying “This End Up” or flyers advertising a Freddie Garrity Gig. The state of her udders were disgraceful! Poor Daisy obviously suffered for her art in the hands of joker Garrity.
Freddie played Muddles in “Snow White” with Letitia Dean at the Davenport Theatre Stockport in1993 and in ”Jack & The Beanstalk” at Hanley Theatre Royal- With Alvin Stardust. At one stage in his career the zany antics of geeky looking Freddie Garrity- he created his own dance moves to rival the twist- Freddie and The Dreamers topped the bill over the rolling stones on a UK tour.
Sadly Freddie became an invalid in 2001 and died in 2005.
Ayshea, born in 1948 is billed as the star of her own Granada TV pop music program, “Lift Off With Ayshea” which ran from 1969 through to 1974.She played the Principal Boy, Prince Charming This panto was the following year, when she represented the UK in “The World Song Festival” held in Tokyo. Elton John wrote a song for her- “The Flowers Will Never Die”.
She had a recording and acting career, and married the president of CBS living in Beverley Hills Hollywood before returning to London in 2000.
Lesley Manville played Cinderella- billed as “Rosmary from Emmerdale Farm” the “Farm” was dropped from the title in 1898, she played Rosemary Kendall for 80 episodes, from 1974-1976.
Lesley won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in 2014, and has been nominated for the Bafta awards – her films include “Dance With A Stranger”, “Topsy Turvey”, “Secrets and Lies”, “Vera Drake” and “Mr Turner” in 2014. A member of the Royal Shakespearer Company, and The Royal Court Theatre she has had a non stop career in theatre, film and television.
The Ugly Sisters in this “Cinderella” were Burdon and Moran- the top “Sisters” who played almost every major theatre during their partnership. Maurice Moran teamed up with Roger (Charles) Burdon in variety shows as magicians “Maids of Mirth and Deception”, which included a washing machine to change their pets from black to white and the trunk illusion where they would change places in an instant. Often they performed their magic speciality at the Ball in Cinderella, and performed a “Willow Patterned Plate” illusion in variety and Music Hall.
Burdon & Moran produced and presented shows and pantomimes around the UK, and employed Paul Holman in their theatre ventures. Paul now heads PHA which presents many pantomimes across the country, and after Maurice died, Roger reverted to his given name and returned to Pantomime as a Dame- he is of course Charles Burdon, and each year can be seen as a very glamorous and funny dame for UK Productions.
I saw Burdon & Moran in many pantomimes from Swansea to Leeds, and I worked for Maurice at his St George’s Theatre a few times, and it is a delight to hear from Charles/Roger every so often for a catch up on “Those Good Old Days!”
Here is a picture of Peter Robbins and I with Charles Burdon. He came to see our “Cinderella” at the Southampton Mayflower that year.
Charles Burdon in this year’s pantomime for UK Productions.
The next Freddie Garrity Panto is “Babes In The Wood”- Doncaster 1968.
This panto Flyer has a mystery- I’m hoping someone out there can solve it for us! Billed as The Robbers are Davies & Gray, “From the Film Oliver”. I’ve not come across this double act before, and the film “Oliver”, the Musical film was released this same year- 1968.
Scanning the full cast lists, there is no mention of an actor called either Davies or Gray. However… here’s the intriguing part- the David Lean film “Oliver” in 1947 had a child actor called John Howard Davies” in the title role, aged eight.
There is sadly no actor with the name “Gray” in this film either! If it were this John Howard Davies, he was to become the most influencial producer and director of the BBC- the head of Comedy, The Head of Light Entertainment, the man who launched Blackadder, Monty Python, Mr Bean, The Goodies, Yes Minister, Hi-De-Hi.. But I’m running away with myself. On the other hand, it might be a completely different actor in 1968 playing The Robber. If anyone has information, we’d be very happy to hear from you!
The stars of this panto were Freddie & The Dreamers, and a star of early “Coronation Street”- Jennifer Moss.
In those days “Corrie” allowed its actors time off to do a panto- something that does not happen today, or in recent times. Jennifer Moss was the tearaway teenager introduced aged 15 to Coronation Street in 1960. She played the Sister of Davy Jones- later to find fame in “The Monkees”.
Jennifer played Lucille Hewitt in the soap for 756 episodes over fourteen years. She had a sad life after leaving “The Street” with many marriages and drink related problems, but achieved a happy ending towards the end of her life. She made a few television appearances in the years up to 2005 and 2006 when she died.
This flyer includes Clifford Henry as Dame. I recall he played Dame in a “Dick Whittington” at Swansea Grand, and I believe he had a television spot called “Clifford’s Kids” if my memory serves me right. Tom De Ville played Sheriff billed here as from the Stage version of “Oliver”, and he had begun his career in a TV series called “The New Forest Rustlers” in 1966 which had Anita Harris in the cast .
Once again Yvonne Lloyd played Principal boy, as she was billed in the previous flyer “Cinderella”.
The final Freddie and The Dreamers themed pantomime flyer is “Aladdin” at the Pavilion Bournemouth, presented by Stepham-Bell.
This Pantomime starred Freddie and The Dreamers, and starred as Emperor one of the country’s biggest television stars of the 1950’s- Tommy Trinder.
Tommy Trinder was the first host of ITV’s “Sunday Night At The London Palladium”- before Bruce Forsythe took over the reins, and was one of the biggest stars of stage, television and radio before and after World War Two. Born in 1909 Tommy was appearing on stage in 1921 at the age of twelve. He worked in Music Hall and revue,and became a household name by the 1940’s.
Ealing Studios made him a major film star- “Champagne Charlie” and “Sailor’s Three” were just a few of his films, and after several years hosting Val Parnell’s “Sunday Night at The Palladium” he hosted his own series “Trinder Box” from 1959 on the BBC.
Here’s a youtube clip of Tommy Trinder talking about another great star- George Formby.
Here’s a photograph from the excellent on the buses fan club website, sent to th fan club by Janita Morrel. It shows Tommy Trinder in Pantomime alongside some other famous panto faces.
Juel Morrel is centre with Craig Douglas – Craig features in our “popstars in pantomime” article here on IBY. Tommy as Buttons is standing next to Reg “Confidentially” Dixon , who I played the Belgrade Coventry panto with. It goes back to how I began this article- one degree of separation! Also I spotted on the left of the photograph the wonderful Terry Gardener. Terry, a neighbour of mine was a pantomime Dame and along with his stage partner Barri Chat, Two Wonderful Ugly Sisters. Craig I spent an evening with recently at a Brick Lane Celebration, so it truly is a small, small world this Pantoland!
Tommy Trinder’s catch phrase “You Lucky People!” was repeated everywhere he went. The star of six Royal Variety Performances, he was created a CBE. He appeared in many pantomime- some on ice at Wembley and Olympia, and appeared as Emperor in Paul Elliott’s “Aladdin” at The Shaftesbury Theatre for Theatre Of Comedy.
I had the huge pleasure of appearing in The Tommy Trinder Show for a week back in the day with my piano act. Every night when the show was over Tommy would sit in the Green Room and entertain us with stories of his life, of London during the pre war years, and his love of football. He was Chairman of Fulham Football Club from 1959 to 1976. That was an amazing week full of stories and laughter. “If it’s laughter you’re after, Trinder’s The Name!”
Second Billing on this flyer is Joyce Blair as Principal Boy. Joyce was the Sister of Lionel Blair, and partnered her Brother in song and dance for many years. She had a Television career throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s appearing in countless comedy shows alongside stars like Morecambe & Wise and Dick Emery.
Joyce & Lionel Blair
Her debut performance was at the Embassy Theatre in 1945 playing in J.M.Barrie’s musical “Quality Street”.
Here is an early clip of Joyce Blair from Youtube:
Joyce appeared in several West End Musicals from South Pacific (1951) and Guys and Dolls (1953) and in the late 70’s played the Mother in “The Barmitzvah Boy”, a short lived musical. She had a personal success in “Dames At Sea” in London. Joyce Blair’s daughter Deborah Sheridan-Taylor played Saskia Duncan in BBC’s “EastEnders”.
At the time of this pantomime “Aladdin” in 1982 Joyce was aged Fifty, playing a very glamorous blonde Aladdin- a concept that children today would probably find very odd, but The revival of the Female Principal Boy with the legs and the style was all thanks to Cilla Black starring in the Palladium Pantomime for bringing the Female Boy back, and to producers like Paul Elliott and Duncan Weldon for employing these wonderful ladies! I was lucky to start my Panto career with the Girls playing the boys, and I’m very pleased I got that chance before the wheel turned again!
Ronne Coyles appears as Dame in this panto flyer. Ronne must be the longest serving and, before his retirement the oldest working Dame at the time. A small fast firecracker of a Dame- he always said the secret to being a Dame was “To Be Yourself”
Ronne, who was born in Blyth, Northumberland, started in showbiz at the age of 14 as a boy soprano.
He began performing at 14 as a boy soprano, going on to appear in over 66 pantomimes, most notably as the dame.Diminutive in statue, but towering in performance, Ronné Coyles has been a perennial Pantomime Dame since he first donned the skirts in the early 1970’s.
A seasoned pantomime and cabaret performer, Ronné began his career at an early age in concert parties. As a young man he was on the bill with Bud Flanagan at the Bristol Hippodrome, singing one of the Flanagan and Allen songs in his act. This led to him appearing with “The Crazy Gang” at the Victoria Palace, and making several films including “Here comes the Sun” with them. During his career has been a trapeze artist, acrobatic dancer, singer and tap dancer.
As Dame his dancing skills were often called upon- one of the fastest “tappers” in the “business”, he incorporated these skills into his unique “Strip” routine, when as Dame he would begin to remove his clothing, only to be interrupted- hide behind a small screen, and almost impossibly change into full 1920’s “flapper” gear, and dance a frenetic Charleston before collapsing into a laundry basket- it still remains one of the most creative “strip routines” I have seen on stage to date!
Ronné was featured in one of the first documentaries about Pantomime for BBC2’s “Man Alive”, which dealt with the life of a pantomime performer. A firm favourite in Summer seasons at Morecambe and around the country, he appeared as Dame in “Humpty Dumpty” at London’s Dominion Theatre, a lavish production starring Keith Harris that was presented in several other cities during the next few years.
Ronne came to Morecambe in 1965 and his season at the Ocean Room was such a success he was invited back the following yearIn 1972 Sybil Sheldon, the owner of the Palace Theatre on the Battery Promenade, asked Ronne to top the bill at a new variety revue show.
“I was there for 10 glorious years and it was wonderful,” he says.
At its peak the Palace would run three shows a week, all hosted by Ronne, called: ‘This is Showbusiness’, ‘This is Music Hall’ and ‘This is Command Performance’. Recent years saw him teamed up with Keith Harris in pantomimes at the Fernham Hall in Fareham, where Keith presented panto from 2001 to 2007- he appeared as Dame Tilly Trott in Goldilocks, as Sarah The Cook in Dick Whittington, and as Baron in “Cinderella” when the Lavelle Twins played Sisters.
He achieved Television fame in 2001 when he joined Harry Hill in the Children’s series “TV Burp” which ran until 2004. One of this businesses longest serving Panto Stars. Possibly the longest serving!