The 2018 Great British Pantomime Awards were held at The New Wimbledon Theatre,on Sunday 15th April. A very rare opportunity for us Panto folk to gather, and to have fun and celebrate Pantomime. For far too long Pantomime has been regarded as a poor relation to other art forms, and this is despite the enormous popularity of these shows, and the revenue it brings in to theatres throughout the UK.
The GBPA was founded by Daniel Dawson and Sam Munday-Webb. A good while back Daniel began visiting as many pantomimes as he could in a season, and sent me information on them for this IBY website. This turned into detailed blogs, and eventually grew to become a website of its own. Of this year’s event Sam said: “Pantomime has never been in a better place, and we are here to embrace that and improve its position and its acknowledgement further”
Daniel Dawson & Sam Munday-Webb
The ceremony was hosted by Christopher Biggins. A master of ceremonies and a veteran Panto Dame- Chris was instrumental in linking and running the entire show. He will be appearing in Panto this year at The Alhambra Bradford. Chris was the perfect MC for an evening where the audience is more than likely to join in and respond! He handled it with his usual superb flair and humour. His retirement from panto has been held off until another year, so Bradford & Billy Pearce will see a lot of him this season!
Biggins at the Beanstalk Podium.
Very rarely do we get to meet other pantomime performers- sometimes we finish early enough to go and see a few pantomimes, but this very close knit community of artistes turns into one huge extended family when we are gathered! The atmosphere at Wimbledon this evening was one of Goodwill, Fun and family. Yes the Awards are great to have recognition, but it really was the least cut-throat of ceremonies. We were all revelling in the warmth and goodwill of the entire night. it started on the way in, with photos and fun! Here are a few! Too many to name everyone, so here are just a few-but I’ve tried to make a list of just those I met a little later on!
Me- Nigel Ellacott joining Susie McKenna and Andrew Ryan
The Twins & Paul Hendy & Emily Wood
the Grumbleweeds and Paul Chuckle. Andrew Fettes & Verona Chard
Graham Cole & Mark “The Beast” Labbett
Roy & Debbie Hudd, Anita Harris, Gary & Yvonne Hind and Eric & Hannah Potts
Graham Hoadley & Jack Land Noble. Lee Redwood & The Weymouth Panto Company
The show began with a number from Olivia Birchenough as Panto Fairy with the sixteen strong Ensemble.Great to have a seven piece band too- and as with all these “one Off” events, all praise to the technical, musical and physical people concerned- you really can’t rehearse a show like this -and this show ran beautifully.
The Ensemble. Twist & Pulse in action.
During the evening there were performances from Twist & Pulse, Ronan Parke, Kieran & Sarah, Doreen Tipton, La Voix and Gary Wilmot. Gary reprised his incredible “Tube” song, an amazing feat of memory, penned by himself as performed at the London Palladium “Dick Whittington” Pantomime.
Gary Wilmot, La Voix and Wendy Peters
It was an evening of presenters, nominees and happy Panto people!
Richard Ede, Nigel, Andrew Ryan & Ben Roddy and with Damian Williams
Here’s a selection of Nominations:
Ben Stock, Biggins & Peter Duncan.
The Winners In Full:
The Lifetime Achievement award was given jointly to Nick Thomas of Qdos and to veteran performer and recent Dame- Roy Hudd.
Roy Hudd and Debbie Flitcroft
Roy paid tribute to Pantomime, and to his recent historic productions- the first pantomimes to be staged at his beloved Wilton’s Music Hall in The East End. He played Sarah The Cook and Mother Goose there, Directed by his wife, Debbie Flitcroft. Roy started as a Butlin’s Redcoat, and years later after starring at the Palace Theatre, He returned as Midnight Cabaret at Butlins. I was his support act! A truly amazing man and keeper of the Music Hall Keys of the UK.
Nick Thomas seen here with a few of his puppet collections of historical and legendary figures. From Thunderbirds to The Diddy Men, he has collected these and an enormous archive of Variety and Pantomime posters. He received his award for his contribution to Pantomime.
Qdos scooped 14 Awards in total during the evening.
Doreen Tipton presenting. Nigel Ellacott & Andrew Ryan Presenting.
Here are the Awards:
Best Ensemble: Hexagon Reading, Peter Pan.
Best Speciality Act: The Timbuktu Tumblers. Peter Pan, Newcastle Theatre Royal.
Best Song Sheet: Matt Slack. Cinderella, Birmingham Hippodrome.
Best Fairy: Elaine C Smith. Sleeping Beauty . Glasgow Kings Theatre.
Best Female Baddie. Elaine Paige Queen Rat. London Palladium.
Best Comic. Danny Adams. Peter Pan. Newcastle Theatre Royal.
Best Male Lead: Charlie Stemp : Palladium Dick Whittington.
(Charlie is currently appearing in “Hello Dolly” on Broadway.)
Best Double Act: The Chuckle Brothers. Snow White. Mayflower Southampton.
Best Director: Chris Nelson. Snow White Aylesbury.
Best Male Baddie. Lawrence Boothman: Robin Hood. Loughborough Town Hall.
Best Supporting Male: Richard David Caine. Snow White. Worthing Pavilion.
Best Leading Female: Faith Omole. Jack & The Beanstalk. Lyric Hammersmith.
Ben Roddy: Best Dame.Peter Pan. Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Best Ugly Sisters: Ben Stock & Neal Wright. Cinderella. Milton Keynes.
Best Script: Alan McHugh & David McGillvray. Dick Whittington. London Palladium.
Best Choreography: Twist & Pulse. Jack & The Beanstalk Stevenage Gordon Craig.
Best Lighting: Ben Cracknell: Cinderella. Birmingham Hippodrome.
Best Costume Design: Paul Shriek, Customs House, South Shields.
Best Musical Supervision: Robert Hyman & Trish Cook. Rapunzel. Stratford East Th Royal.
Best Special Effects: Twins FX. The Flying London Bus. Palladium Dick Whittington.
Best Staging/Set: Morgan Brind. Beauty & The Beast. Derby Arena.
Best Newcomer: Al Murray, Jack & The Beanstalk, Wimbledon
Overall prizes went to Salisbury Playhouse Jack & The Beanstalk (Under 750 seats category)
The Sheffield Lyceum’s “Mother Goose” (750-1,000 seat category)
Panto Of The Year: The London Palladium “Dick Whittington” (1,500 seats & Above).
Sam Munday Webb wrote:
A special moment last night was talking to Nigel Ellacott, where I spoke about an email I sent him circa 2005 about how I was going to start something called the “Great British Pantomime Awards”.
Simon Jackson Lyall was responsible for the technical sound production side of the Awards Event, with Chris Firth Stage Manager, Jason Salvin on lights and Gareth Stevens called the show. The Musicians were led by Dan Boardman, with Terence Penk, Jamie Wilkins, Steve Gilbertson, Drew Cowburn, Greg Nicholas and Sam Sankey.
It took a while but the seed was planted: Many years later, what a truly marvellous thing has been created, thanks to everyone for all their overwhelming support, trust and passion”
A great fun event, and one we know will return next year. It was great catching up with mates in Pantoland stretching back over the years, and meeting some new. From my days starting out in Panto my oldest chums would be the legendary Jan Hunt, Principal Boy & Pantomime Fairy, (we go back to the early 1980’s) and to the wonderful Susie Mckenna- Principal Boy and the Doyen of Hackney Pantomimes, my mate Vicki Michelle, and Laura Taylor now with Imagine Theatre, and the lady who looked after my Pantomime Roadshow in The Cadbury Days of E&B Productions!
A clutch of Dames to chat with, from Damian Williams, Ben Roddy, Andrew Ryan, Richard Ede, Biggins of course, Graham Hoadley & Jack Land Noble,David Robbins, Lee Redwood, Phillip Meeks, David Phipps-Davis, Roy Hudd, Ben Stock & Neal Wright, Leon Craig,and many many more I never got to touch base with in the throng!
Here’s a small list from memory of those I met up with during the evening. Yes- I did get about!
Suzi McKenna, Chris Jarvis, Damian Williams, Ben Roddy
David Robbins, David Lloyd Jones, Martin Dodd, Elaine C Smith
Peter Duncan., Graham hodley and Jack Land Noble, Philip Meaks
Jamie Morris and Tarot Joseph, Barrie Burnett, Sarah Whitlock
Leon Mellor, Gary Wilmot, Graham Cole, Roy Hudd and Debbie
Chris Biggins, Lee Redwood, Leon Craig, Ben miller, Joe Purdy
Laura Taylor, Gary &Yvonne Hind, The Twins, Gary & Paul,
Vicki Michelle, Jan Hunt, Anita Harris & Mike, Paul Chuckle
Grumbleweeds- James & Robin, Al Murray-The Pub Landlord
Richard Ede, Chris Jordan and Natasha Grey
Paul Henry & Emily Wood, Wendy Peters, Anthony England
Ben Stock & Neal Wright, David Phipps Davis.
Sadly there were those who were not with us to celebrate. The GBPA had an “In Memorium” section, and some dear friends and colleagues were shown on screen, including
Bruce Forsyth Duggie Chapman
Carole lee Scott Roy Barraclough
Bella Emberg Bill Maynard
And Ashleigh Butler’s beautiful dog, Pudsey.
A great Night, and again, thanks to all those who organised and planned and executed a Swell Party!