Monthly Archives: September 2016

James Harman


It was with great sadness we heard at IBY that James Harman has died after a very brief illness. James was an actor who contributed to the “World’s Longest Touring Pantomime”, when he began working for Aubrey Phillips and his touring “Snow White” pantomime. James played The Wicked Queen for Aubrey and often worked alongside his great friend Barbara Jackson.


The tour started (before James joined the company) in 1969 and continued for almost forty years, culminating in a short season at The Victoria Palace. Debbie Young a fellow Birmingham resident joined James playing Snow White, and his friend Colin Beach often appeared, alongside his lifelong friends Brian Johnston and Dave Peters.

James appeared in Comedies, thrillers and variety over a career that began in the 1970’s.


James became friend and later manager to Kathy Kirby, and was instrumental in setting up her website. Although Kathy did not use a computer, he promoted clips of her performances in the 1970’s on youtube, and built up a fan base for her in her later years.His friend Kathy died in 2011.


James wrote her biography “Kathy Kirby- Secrets, Loves and Lip Gloss”.


Panto Press Launches- a selection

Summer- when Panto meets the press! All over the UK during the late Summer and Early Autumn , Theatres and producers launch their annual Pantos with a photo call. Here are just a few from recent weeks.If you have any to add please send them along for round two!

Above: Birmingham Hippodrome, Wiltons Music Hall and The Sheffield Lyceum Press Launches.

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Su Pollard ( heads the Tunbridge Wells Assembley Hall Theatre’s “Snow White” this season. I bumped into Su yesterday at Ilford’s Kenneth More Theatre and we had a quick chat about things panto in the interval of “Boorskale”, a new musical. Su plays Wicked Queen alongside Jamie Rickers and Jamie Steen as Dame. Pictured above is Millie Booth as Snow White with Chris Warner as Prince in this UK Productions panto.


My Panto running mate of many years Brian Conley seen above with Gok Wan launching the Qdos Pantomime “Robinson Crusoe” at The Cliff’s Pavilion Southend-On-Sea. With any luck I can get to see this seafaring panto after I finish mine this season!


Mister Maker Phil Gallagher with Damian Williams. Sheffield Lyceum

Damian Williams returns once again to be very naughty and very funny as Sheffield’s Dame in “Snow White” alongside TV’s “Mister Maker” starring Wendi Peters as The Wicked Queen.

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The Princess Theatre in Torquay has Anita Harris starring as The Baroness in “Cinderella” 043 042

Here’s a poster of Anita from a few years back starring at the same venue- one of the Finest “Boys” in the Business!

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Over at Crewe the Qdos Pantomime is “Aladdin” with Dame Malcolm Lord giving his Widow Twankey alongside Sid Sloane as Wishee Washee- those Policemen moving in on Widow Twankey are Cannon and Ball.

Courtesy of The Guardian, here are some photos from the Roy Hudd “Mother Goose” press launch at Wiltons Music Hall. These photographs capture the history and tradition of this, one of the oldest panto subjects- not Roy- but “Mother Goose!” Here’s Roy getting his first fitting for his “poor” costume from Martin Ramsdin (seen helping Roy with his wig) aided by wife Debbie Flitcroft and Wardrobe Master Tony Priestley.


Meanwhile, over at the Manchester Opera House my mate Sherrie was dreaming of Genie at their “Aladdin ” Press call for First Family. Sherrie stars as Genie Of The Ring alongside Ben Adams from A1 and Cold Feet star John Thompson as Abanazar.


Sherrie a few yards from the cobbles she lived on for all those “Coronation Street” years before she found sun and sangria in Benidorm, and went from a Loose Woman to searching for her feline friend in “Are You Being Served”.. and I am unanimous in that!


Sherrie as Mrs Slocombe with the recent cast of “Are You Being Served” BBC TV.


Sherrie with Ben and John outside The Opera House, Manchester.

Eric Potts will be playing Widow Twankey with Phil Holden in this Manchester Magical Tale!

Send in your Press Photos and we’ll get them posted!


Hippodrome Panto Launch!


Wednesday 7th September 2016

The Birmingham Hippodrome Qdos launch of this year’s “Dick Whittington” took place this morning with the panto cast and production team meeting the press during the day.


John Barrowman flew in from his busy schedule on “Arrow” – he plays Malcolm Merlyn in the award winning show, with cross-over appearances in “Flash” to spend the day at the Hippodrome,in his “Dick Whittington” guise, meeting up with his panto mates Janette and Ian who will be playing Wee Jimmy and Councillor Krankie in “Dick Whittington”.

Dick Whittington - Panto Photocall.  The Birmingham Hippodrome. 7th September 2016.

Dick Whittington Panto Photocall. The Birmingham Hippodrome. 7th September 2016. Pictured are John Barrowman who plays Dick Whittington and Jimmy Krankie. Picture by Simon Hadley 07774 193699



Dick Whittington - Panto Photocall.  The Birmingham Hippodrome. 7th September 2016.

Dick Whittington – Panto Photocall. The Birmingham Hippodrome. 7th September 2016. Pictured are The Krankies. Picture by Simon Hadley 07774 193699

John Barrowman and The Krankies have worked together in several Glasgow pantomimes at the SECC, and will be teamning up with arch Eastender’s villain and now King Rat Steve McFadden in this year’s seasonal panto running until the end of January 2017.


Matt Slack returns to the Hippodrome stage this season, as does Andrew Ryan as Sarah The Cook. Both Matt and Andrew appeared in “Aladdin” last year- this is Matt’s fourth panto at The Hippodrome and Andrew’s third.

This season the glamorous Fairy Bow Bells is played by Jodie Prenger, star of “I’d Do Anything” and recently touring in “Tell Me On A Sunday” and “Calamity Jane”.


During the launch the cast had interviews and photos with the press, Television and met the friends of the Hippodrome and group bookers for a Q&A session, hosted by Michael Harrison with Nick and Sandra Thomas.

Dick Whittington - Panto Photocall.  The Birmingham Hippodrome. 7th September 2016.

Dick Whittington Panto Photocall. The Birmingham Hippodrome. 7th September 2016. Pictured is John Barrowman who plays Dick Whittington. Picture by Simon Hadley 07774 193699


Steve McFadden was filming Eastenders and will be visiting the Hippodrome later to meet the press- meanwhile the cast got a chance to meet and mingle for the day, before setting a date to meet up for rehearsals in December.


photographs courtesy of Simon Hadley, Qdos &  The Hippodrome Birmingham.


Panto Launch Northampton!

Northants Jack poster FINAL


Pantomime launch at The Derngate & Royal, Northampton! Simon Webbe, Ashleigh & Pudsey and Ricky K were all there, along with Daisy The Cow and a very large beanstalk to launch this year’s Panto at the Derngate & Royal.


Photo courtesy of BBC Live Northampton

Simon will be playing my son Jack, Ashleigh will be The Princess along with her sidekick, Pudsey, and Ricky will be my second son, Simple Simon. (I’m relieved that Simon isn’t playing Simon, as that would be too confusing!). I will be giving my Dame Trott for this festive season that starts on Friday 9th December.


Photo courtesy of the Chronicle, Northampton

This will be Ashleigh’s fifth panto- her first in her home town- and Simon ‘s second. He played Aladdin last season at Nottingham Theatre Royal.


Photo courtesy of The Chronicle, Northampton. The only way is up!


If you are wondering where I am, or whether I’ve become camera shy all of a sudden, I was not able to attend this launch – I believe this will be my 42nd Panto!- as I was having a bit of TLC at the hospital and Dame Trott was under The Doctor! All pre arranged and no, it did NOT involve Botox!

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Here’s a picture of me to fill in the gap today! I can’t wait to join the gang in rehearsals at the end of November after the Pantomime Roadshow has finished, and here’s to a great adventure up the beanstalk at Northampton Derngate & Royal this season!



30 Years of The Mayflower!


Today we celebrated Thirty years of entertainment at The Mayflower Theatre Open Day. The three sessions- 10am, 12.00 and 2pm were extremely busy, and Lee Redwood and I were meeting and greeting on behalf of Pantoland. We covered all areas- a dressing room set up with some of my costumes for exploring, and a bit of piano playing from the both of us on the stage!

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Some old fossils on stage! Here’s the actual “Night In A Museum” prop dinasaur supplied by The Twins FX, along with their spectacular Pumpkin Coach, a truck of Daleks, and a sinister saw!


We toured the building, as did the public- stopping for photographs along the way- and visited the backstage, restaurant and the exciting heritage room where I came across a couple of former triumphs here in the Mayflower- Cinderella programmes with Paul Nicholas, Jan Hunt, Fern Britton and Dame Hilda Bracket- what a lovely season that was- and a set of photos from our Brian Conley Cinderella later on.

Here’s what I found halfway down the grand staircase in a display case! Early Ellacott & Robbins!


Here’s my ballgown from that Brian Conley Cinderella back in the “East” Dressing room it was in originally when Peter Robbins and I were doing the pantomime here. I set the room up as if the Ugly Sisters were in residence once again.


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Here’s Lesley Joseph’s “Robinson Crusoe” costume in the foyer- she could wear that for “Strictly” I reckon- and Gok’s costume also on display.


A really great day- the theatre tours took in exhibitions of make-up and wigs, displays of signed and audio transcribed performances and “relaxed” performances- on stage we had dance and scenic effects, a ballet exhibition and some excellent information at every corner from the Mayflower’s army of staff and supporters. Thanks Sara Scott for inviting us- and thank you Robin, Kerryann and Mike for looking after us so ell!

Sadly it was the last day at The Mayflower for Mike Evans who leaves for freelance work. Here he is with the Dames!


A beautiful theatre, and a joy for Lee & myself to bring a bit of Panto to the proceedings.

Here’s to the next Thirty Years!






Mayflower Southampton OPEN DAY!


Saturday celebrates Thirty Years of The Mayflower Theatre Southampton!

There will be a special event all day- ticket holders only- to celebrate:

The tickets for the 10am entry have now SOLD OUT. There are some remaining for the 12.00 Entry and for the 2pm Entry.Here is the address for those last remaining tickets:

The day will give a chance for everyone to gain a rare insight into everything that happens on and off-stage at one of the biggest theatres in the UK.


There will be a variety of activities for all ages throughout the theatre and knowledgeable staff on hand to answer all those things you have always wanted to find out about how a theatre is run. Activities on the day include:

Discover costumes close up from Birmingham Royal Ballet and Welsh National Opera. Special effects supremoes The Twins FX will be displaying a selection of props from the theatre and world of pantomime along with the odd one or two from the world of film and TV (just watch out for that Dalek!)


Watch a wig and make-up demonstration and find out more about theatrical make-up with help from Solent University

There will also be Performances at set times throughout the day from our Summer Youth Dance Project performers who have worked with Rambert and ZooNation Dance Companies on the pieces.

There will be nothing like a dame as Nigel Ellacott and Lee Redwood roam the theatre to bring the magic of pantomime up close and personal. There will also be a display of some  of Nigel’s Dame Costumes he has created over the years.

Nigel Ellacott & Lee Redwood

We hope to see you there-Look out for Lee and myself roaming the theatre during the day from 10am until shortly before 4pm, and don’t forget to check out The Twins amazing display of props and devices from their store of film and theatre.

Don’t forget- you need a ticket and the box office isa now open!