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SPOTLIGHT ON DUGGIE CHAPMAN

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DUGGIE CHAPMAN MBE

 31st March 1936  – 1st April 2017

“The Delfont Of The North!”

Duggie Chapman who died on Saturday, a day after celebrating his 81st Birthday was a prolific producer of Pantomimes in the UK. In the mid ‘70’s he was the biggest producer of panto with over eleven productions in venues, or on tour over Christmas.

Over his 50 year plus career he presented over 400 pantomimes, as well as Music Halls, variety and Summer shows both in the UK and abroad.. A familiar sight at theatres arriving in his Rolls Royce, cigar in hand and a magnificent sense of humour. He was the man who kept an awful lot of artistes in work over a very long time. The tributes from these artistes, many of them now stars have been pouring in.

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Duggie was born in Burnley, and became a full time resident of Blackpool with offices on the South Shore from 1962.

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He not only presented Panto, but played comic and later Dame in several. His first pantomime appearance was, aged 22 in 1958. A year later he would produce his first show in Jersey. His last appearance as a performer in panto was 1973. By this time Duggie was producing eleven pantomimes, and the luxury of performing each year was no longer possible.

Duggie had started as a child actor. At eleven he appeared in “The Cure Of Love”, and aged Fifteen he was one of “The Four Blue Pages”, a harmony group. By 1955 at the age of 19 he was with Ken Wilson in “Piccadilly To Paree” as a young comic, venturing into the “Naught But Nice” shows such as “The Girlee Show” followed by tours in variety.

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Throughout his career he presented Variety and Music Hall. His “Duggie Chapman’s Music Hall”,was  brought to theatres at “E-Nourmous Expense!” toured almost continuously from 1964 for thirty five years!

1970 Cast Photo

 

I first saw these shows as a schoolboy at Swansea Grand Theatre, and the artistes appearing were Duggie’s “rep” company- all “turns” who worked for him all year round, and then went into his pantomimes, before setting off for tours and Summer Seasons. He was very loyal, and so were they. These shows were to me very glamorous and an insight into a world of showbiz that l knew I had to join someday. Thank you Duggie!

 1971 Poster     1967 Dorothy Squirtes

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DUGGIE CHAPMAN IN PANTO

 Duggie Dame

1958/59  Duggie first appeared in a Bunny Baron production of “Aladdin”. The show was at the Granville Theatre Ramsgate and featured Neville Kennard, Hazel Wilson, Calvin Kaye, Pat Ward and Lisa Gaye.

By this time Duggie was a regular broadcaster for the BBC. He made over 100 Broadcasts in shows like “Variety Playhouse”and “Workers Playtime” as a comedian.

The following Year he was not in a pantomime, but touring and Broadcasting.

1961/62  Duggie appeared as comic in “Babes In The Wood”  in Blackburn for Joe Collins. Joe was the Father of Joan Collins,and was a prolific producer. The show was looked after by Davy Kaye . Duggie appeared alongside veteran Dame Billy Wells as Nurse, with The Harrison Twins and Brian Stone. This panto played three weeks at Blackburn and a week at St. Helens.

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1962/63 he appeared in “Ali Baba” at The Dudley Hippodrome. This panto was extended and ran until February 10th 1963. There were two glamorous Dames- Terry Bartlett (of Bartlett & Ross fame) and Terry Durham.

1963/64 Duggie played Simple Simon in “Jack & The Beanstalk” in Kidderminster alongside Bert Ward as Dame and The speciality “The Flying Paulos”.

In 1964 Duggie Chapman’s Music Hall was toured throughout the year. He compered his show that Christmas at The Alhambra, Morecambe.

 1965/66  Duggie played his first Dame. He was Dame Durden in “Jack & The Beanstalk” as well as producing. The panto was on tour and played Scunthorpe, Skegness and The Cavendish Cinema Nottingham.

1966/67 Duggie produced and appeared in “Puss In Boots” at The Richmond Theatre London. He played Queen Penelope. Many of the cast were members of his Music Hall that played Richmond during the year. They included Alec Bregonzi and Lucy Fenwick, who played “Puss”.

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Duggie at Richmond

1967/68 Duggie returned as Dame to Richmond,in “Babes In The Wood” He was again joined by Alec Bregonzi and Lucy Fenwick. His Old Time Music Hall  continued to play the theatre.

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Duggie                   Marie Ashton

1968/69 Duggie Chapman played Widow Twankey in “Aladdin”  for Derek Salberg at The Pavilion, Bournemouth. The Pantomime starred Harry H Corbett (of “Steptoe & Son”fame) and featured Yokel comedian Billy Burden, Dennis Spicer and Derek Dene.

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Harry H Corbett

1969/70 Duggie presented pantomime at The Civic Theatre, Barnsley. He played Ugly Sister with Tom Howard  in “Cinderella”. Tom Howard was a regular performer in his Music Hall, often appearing in drag as Florrie Forde. Joining the company was Ken Platt (his catchphrase “I won’t take my coat off, I’m not stopping!”) along with Bryan Johnson (Brother of Teddy, and also a Eurovision contestant) with Jean Barrington as Prince and Esme Ash. Ken played Buttons with Bryan as Baron.

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Ken Platt

1970/71 Duggie Chapman presented and appeared at The Civic, Barnsley as Dilys Dumpling in “Red Riding Hood”, alongside Ken (“Settle Down”) Goodwin as Simple Simon. Clinton Ford played the Squire.

The star of this panto was a local lad- Dai Bradley. The film “Kes” directed by Ken Loach was released this year, and starred the now 16 year old as Prince. He had just left school, and following this panto was to join the Royal National Theatre to train and appear in seasons at the Old Vic, and later appearing in “Equus” in the UK and in America. His most recent film is the 2013 “Hummingbird” with Jason Statham.

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This Christmas  saw Duggie  also presenting “Cinderella” at The Floral Hall, Stockport. His role as “Sister” was given to Johnny Spillers (later panto producer) and Tommy Trafford (Later Panto Producer ) along with Marie Ashton as Dandini.

 1971/72  Duggie  played WidowTwankey in his third year as Dame at Barnsley Civic, which he produced. It was “Aladdin”.

This season starred Bobby Bennett as Wishee Washee, and “The Man In Black”- Valentine Dyall as Abanazar. Dumarte & Denzer presented their Black Light speciality “Skeletons Alive!”, and Ping & Pong the Chinese Policemen were played by The Harman Brothers. A name change a few years later saw the Harmans rechristened The Chuckle Brothers.

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Jean Barrington played Aladdin and the role of Princess was played by my friend Suzanne Kaye. This was her Pantomime debut in her local theatre- she went on to join Duggie’s touring Music Hall and Summer Seasons afterwards.

The pantomime rehearsed up until Christmas Eve, and then the cast returned to open on Boxing Day, as did most pantomimes at the time.

Suzanne remembers Duggie Chapman’s Dame as “ A lovely Dame. He was a warm, comfortable Motherly dame with a wicked twinkle in his eye”

This twinkle was often in his eye, and she remembers how he made her feel at ease in her very first panto. “He was a joy. You never saw him lose his temper, and he was kind and supportive. He made you laugh a lot..”

“If we were out or in a pub or a reception and someone had cornered him or was boring him, he had this code word. It was Brentford. He’d call you over and say ‘Suzanne, have you seen Mr Brentford recently? Or ‘Have you been to Brentford lately?’ that was his signal to be rescued! “

Duggie made Suzanne comfortable enough to ask her back the year, and to join his Summer Seasons. She continued to do over twenty more pantomimes and summer shows.

During this panto season Duggie was also producing a further two pantomimes at Southport, and at Bury St Edmunds. Once again Johnny Spillers and Tommy Trafford were in Cinderella and Bobby Kent was Dame for him at Bury St Edmunds.

 1972/73  This was year four at Barnsley for Duggie Chapman. It was also his last pantomime season appearing as Dame. The pantomime was “Babes In The Wood” with Duggie playing Nurse Glucose.

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The star this year was Ian Lavender. At 26 he was one of the stars of “Dad’s Army”, watched at times by 20 Million viewers. He played Muddles with Peter Cavanagh “The Voice Of Them All” playing the Sheriff of Nottingham. Brett Stevens was Robin Hood alongside Suzanne Kaye as Maid Marion.

The cast included Merry Men played by Dave Lee as Will Scarlett  (later to become a Panto Producer) and Peter Tracey (previously a double act of Smart & Tracey) along with magician Mike Scott. The Good and Bad Robbers were Charlie Grey and Eddie Davies. The latter part of the panto was affected by National Power cuts, strikes and shortages.

Suzanne Kaye  recalls this pantomime as the one that took place during a period of regular power cuts. The Matinee might have full lighting, but then the evening would see reduced and emergency lighting, with candles (backed with baco foil) put as footlights to boost the secondary lights!

 That panto season  (1972) Duggie Chapman also  directed “Robin Hood” at Scunthorpe with Tony Lester, Ted Dwyer and Horace Mashford in the cast.

After this year Duggie would find it impossible to perform in pantomime, as the number of pantomimes he was producing each year was increasing.

In 1973/74 he presented “Jack & The Beanstalk” at Barnsley with Ken Platt, “Aladdin” at Bury St Edmunds with John Spillers and David Lee along with Jean Barrington, and a touring panto “Goldilocks” at St Helens and Southport.

By 1974 he had Ten pantomime productions, and was hiring sets and costumes from his Blackpool Costume House and store. He had Nine Theatres and One Club on his list this year- Barnsley, Bury St Edmunds, Harlow, Margate, New Brighton, Scunthorpe, Southport, Sheffield and Weymouth.

His casts included his regular artistes and the comedians Ken Platt, Derek Roy alongside Bobby Crush, Ricky Vallance, Tommy Trafford Ken Joy and Bobby Kent.

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In 1975 he added an Easter Panto to his collection- “Cinderella” at St Helens.

Here is an interview Duggie gave to a newspaper several years ago, about his thoughts on pantomime.

http://northernlifemagazine.co.uk/the-pantomime-principal-boy-is-doomed-oh-yes-she-is/

To this day Duggie, at the age of eighty, continued to produce and direct pantomimes all over the country. He received the British Music Hall’s Lifetime Acheivement award in 2008 and was made an MBE in 2009 for his services to light entertainment.

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The stars of his music halls included Sandy Powell and his wife Kay White, Elsie and Doris Waters, Adelaide Hall, Derek Roy and in pantomime his stars included Stu Francis who appeared in so many Bolton pantomimes for him, as well as Jimmy Cricket , Charlie Cairoli, , Barnaby, The Patton Brothers and Keith Hopkins.

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Billingham “Goldilocks” produced by Duggie Chapman

One name appears on Duggie’s panto bills a lot- Mervyn  Francis, who has directed, co-directed and performed in over twenty of Duggie’s Pantomimes. Here is a link to his website:

http://mervynfrancis.vpweb.co.uk/Pantomime.html

The proof of a good man is the company he keeps- Duggie kept a fine and a loyal company. His casts were his friends, and remained working with him for year upon year. His Music Hall and Panto casts contain the same names each year. Here are a few from The Swansea Grand seasons:

1967 Programme  1968 Programme  1970 Programme

That twinkle in his eye never left him. Locally his shows at the Lowther Pavilion Blackpool were regular attractions. The theatre managers became his friends.

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Our thoughts here at its-behind-you.com go to his wife Beryl Johnson  and to all those in Pantoland who miss this jovial and talented man who loved and  lived Pantomime.

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British Panto Awards!

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Thanks to the exhaustive journeys of Daniel Dawson and his team, the British Panto Awards 2016-17 were announced in London on Sunday 12th at the Theatre Cafe on Shaftesbury Avenue London, and live on Facebook.

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Daniel Dawson introduces the evening

The hosts for this evening were Christopher Biggins and Leon Craig, and the awards were selected from the team that Daniel assembled to see pantomimes far and wide across the country. Daniel’s travels were first blogged here on IBY as he visited as many pantomimes as he could in a season (while keeping up his full time job- that’s a lot of saved up holiday dates in January!). Soon it outgrew his expectations, and now his team of judges assist him in the visits.

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Christopher Biggins hosted the evening aided by Leon Craig.

The venue in The West End & Daniel’s sponsors for the awards tonight.

The full story of The British Panto Awards, and the nominations & winners can be found on http://www.pantoinsider.com

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Leon Craig, Oliver Gray & Dean Horner, Susie McKenna, Sharon D Clark, Damian Williams

 

Here are a list of the awards and the 2017 winners.

PANTO OF THE YEAR 2017

Dick Whittington

Birmingham Hippodrome

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Qdos 

Directed by: Michael Harrison

Starring: John Barrowman, The Krankies, Steve McFadden, Matt Slack, Jodie Prenger & Andrew Ryan

This pantomime won in the 1500 seater plus category

In the 750 -1500 seater category The Winner was:

DICK WHITTINGTON, MARLOWE CANTERBURY: EVOLUTION

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Emily Wood & Paul Hendy. Evolution

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The Marlowe Canterbury Pantomime

And in the below 750 seater category the winner was:

SLEEPING BEAUTY, TOWNGATE, BASILDON (Towngate & Simon Fielding Ltd)

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Basildon Panto

BEST DIRECTOR: 2016/2017 Winner: MICHAEL HARRISON for Cinderella London Palladium

Sponsored by Production, Light and Sound

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Michael Harrison Qdos

BEST STAGING & SET: 2016/2017 Winner: IAN WESTBROOK for Cinderella London Palladium

Sponsored by Rare Design

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Ian Westbrook

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY: 2016/2017 Winner: AISLING DUFFY AND SIMON FIELDING Sleeping Beauty, Towngate Basildon.

BEST MUSIC SUPERVISION: 2016/2017 Winner: GARY HIND– Cinderella London Palladium

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Gary Hind

BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS: 2016/2017 Winner: TWINS FX for the Upside Down Moped, Cinderella London Palladium

Sponsored by Production, Light and Sound

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BEST SCRIPT 2016/2017 Winner:CHRISTIAN PATTERSON for Cinderella,  Regent Theatre Stoke

Sponsored by Rare Design

BEST DAME; 2016/2017 Winner: DAMIAN WILLIAMS. Snow White, Sheffield Lyceum

Sponsored by Limelight Scripts

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Damian Williams with Daniel Dawson

BEST COMIC: 2016/2017 Winner: MATT SLACK. Dick Whittington, Birmingham Hippodrome. (Matt is currently in Canada with “Mrs Henderson Presents).

BEST LEADING MALE PERFORMER: 2016/2017 Winner: JULIAN CLARY– Cinderella London Palladium

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BEST LEADING FEMALE PERFORMER: 2016/2017 Winner: OLIVIA BIRCHENOUGH- Cinderella, Floral Pavillion, New Brighton.

BEST DOUBLE ACT: 2016/2017 Winner: THE KRANKIES- Dick Whittington Birmingham Hippodrome

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BEST UGLY SISTERS: 2016/2017 Winner: DEAN HORNER & OLIVER GRAY Cinderella Derby Arena

BEST MALE BADDIE: 2016/2017 Winner: TOM LISTER– Peter Pan Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage

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Chris Jordan (producer)  accepts on behalf of Tom Lister

Sponsored by CME Personnel Consultancy

BEST FEMALE BADDIE: 2016/2017 Winner: SHARON D CLARKE– Sleeping Beauty Hackney Empire Theatre.

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Sharon D Clarke & Susie McKenna

BEST SUPPORTING MALE: 2016/2017 Winner: TOM CONNOR- Beauty & the Beast Liverpool Everyman

BEST PANTO FAIRY:     2016/2017 Winner: HANNAH POTTS– Cinderella Regent Theatre Stoke

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Hannah Potts

BEST NEWCOMER TO PANTO: 2016/2017 Winner: GILL JORDAN as ‘DOREEN TIPTON’ Aladdin, Wolverhampton Grand.

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Gill Jordan

At the end of the ceremony a very special award- The Lifetime Achievement Award for Panto went to this evening’s host- Panto Dame extraordinaire- CHRISTOPHER BIGGINS!

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Ashleigh, Pudsey & Sullivan!

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Sullivan and his Crufts 2017 prizes

Readers of the Northampton Dame’s Blog will recognise Sullivan, or “Sully” as he’s known- a fiesty performer who lived for his moment on stage with Ashleigh and Pudsey and the rest of us in “Jack & The Beanstalk” this season.

On Sunday Sullivan was not in a theatre but in a huge arena- THE Crufts arena at Birmingham NEC. Along with Pudsey he was competing in the the Agility  section of the world famous show in front of many thousands- including Andrew Ryan and myself!

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Sully won a first in his group, and just narrowly missed the overall prize in the final held just before “Best In Show”. He raced like a streak of lightning barking all the way, and was just loving his first time at Crufts! Pudsey , a seasoned veteran was just as enthusiastic, and completed his agility course, leaving Ashleigh and her Mum Penny in floods of tears- his performance was flawless, but Ashleigh has decided to retire him from cometition. This was his final race around the green carpet at Crufts. So honoured to be there to watch it.

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Pudsey on beginners!

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Sullivan in mid flight

It was a great day and got the chance to catch up with Ashleigh before the finals. Ashleigh, Pudsey and Sullivan will be appearing in “Jack & The Beanstalk” this year at High Wycombe for Qdos.

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The end of a great day… time for some of the competitors to take a nap!

Craft Of Panto Workshop Details

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Craft of Panto – A panto workshop

Oh no it isn’t! Oh yes it is!

Sunday April 2nd 2017     10am-5pm

LLANDUDNO

If you are an actor, amateur or professional and involved in putting on Christmas pantomimes, this is a rare opportunity to learn the skills of a pantomime Dame!

Pantomime comedy is a specialised area …… come along, discover and develop your skills to perform in a pantomime with guidance from Nigel Ellacott.

Nigel Ellacott is one of the UK’s most respected pantomime Dames. He’s performed in the Venue Cymru pantomime many times and has also toured the area with his famous panto roadshow.

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Photo courtesy of Paul Sampson

Venue Cymru is hosting a weekend of events, talks and workshops related to comedy- performing and writing. This “Craft Of Panto” workshop is one of a number of events in the town. The venue for Nigel’s Panto workshop will be the

Tabernacle Welsh Baptist Chapel

LLandudno
Conwy
Wales
LL30 2sw

Sunday at the chapel may never look the same! The day runs from  10am-5pm

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There will be limited availability to allow everyone to become involved in working on sections of panto script and panto routines in groups. There will also be the opportunity to take a brief look at the Traditions and history of panto and The Panto Dame within the framework.

Tickets are at £12.00 for the session, and must be booked in advance via the Venue Cymru link below:

https://venuecymru.co.uk/whats-on/Craft-of-Panto-Workshop-17.html

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KEITH SALBERG

Sad news that Keith Salberg, Impresario and agent passed away at Brindsworth House  this week. He was Eighty-Four and had been a resident of Brindsworth since 2008.

Keith was my agent for Pantomime and Summer Season in the 1970’s and had a truly encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Variety! When I was involved with a show at Wimbledon he stood with me at the back of the circle and reeled off the CV’s of all the artistes onstage without drawing breath. His memory was almost photographic for detail . His wit for sharp and ascerbic and very very funny!

He was a very familiar figure in West End theatres for most of his life- his familiar black coat and homburg hat  could be seen every night at a theatre. Keith told me he even went to see a variety show on his honeymoon! He always paid for his seat, and would give you a full “crit” the next day.

The Salberg dynasty were almost as famous as the Grades. Derek, Keith’s Uncle was associated with the Birmingham Alexandra Theatre. He presented many years of popular and spectacular pantomimes there, and his Uncle Reggie had repertory in several Midlands and Northern theatres. Keith’s Father Stanley Salberg was a businessman.

Keith left school in 1948 and worked as a student in the Box Office at The King’s Theatre Gainsborough. He also played small parts and helped out backstage. At 16 he approached The Queen’s Theatre Cleveleys and persuaded them to let him put a rep season on there, and later expanded the seasons to other theatres

His fortunes rose, and they also fell. At one point Keith gave up his Rep to become cinema manager outside Birmingham for £9 a week, before bouncing back and returning to his agency.

By the mid 1950’s Keith began working with Variety Artists with an office in Gerrard Street, Soho.

In the 1960’s he joined Geraldo Agency, and then Bunny Baron’s Organisation before setting up his own Variety Agency in Oxford Street.

He toured “one Nighters” with Reg Dixon, Tommy Trinder, Leslie Welch (The Memory Man) and Adelaide Hall. He specialised in variety and in Pantomime. When I met Keith in the ‘70’s he had a “zoo” of pantomime animals- people who specialised in playing Goose, Cat or Cow, and that is when I joined his (pardon the pun) Stable, and joined Reg Dixon at Belgrade Coventry in “Mother Goose”, before finding my feet as Puss In Boots for Keith!

He presented touring Old Time Music Hall shows, Variety Bills and cast many pantomime productions.He had various acts from Bavarian Bands to The Kosack Cavalcade on tour. He was sought after by local councils for shows to put into their venues. When Keith would leave a show and was asked what he thought he would invariably say “A nice little show for the Civics” in a slightly caustic way!

He was booker for what was always described as “the World’s Longest Touring Pantomime”- booking dates around the UK for Aubrey Phillips’s “Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs” which often featured Brian Johnson, Charles Hawtry and Johnny Dallas. I did Summer Season for Keith in Rhyl and played that “Snow White” every Thursday three or four shows a day!

Keith visited me in pantomimes years and years after he was no longer my agent. He would unexpectedly appear backstage at Croydon or Wimbledon or Richmond- once with a steaming pasty in his top pocket- I never enquired and he never offered an explanation. Pantomimes can make you peckish.

He once asked me to introduce him to one of his clients who he had never actually met. This gentleman provided Pantomime Ponies for “Cinderella”. As I went to fetch him to meet Keith in the foyer he called out “Tell him to look out for a man who looks like Tony Hancock”- and he was right. He did!

Keith continued to book artistes and to visit the theatre each night through until he retired shortly after the death of his wife Joyce.

He entered Brindsworth House in 2008 and necome a well loved member of the community. He continued to go out to the theatres- mostly matinees now, often accompanied and driven by his pal  Jack Seaton.

Keith was a true character – a man of the theatre, and will be much missed in pantoland and Theatreland.

 

 

 

YVONNE MARSH

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Sad news today that Yvonne Marsh, Principal Boy has passed away aged Eighty-Five.

Yvonne was among the last Principal Boys before the tide turned once again, and the roles of Prince Charming and Jack became associated with men playing the parts.

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Throughout the 1960’s and into the 1980’s Principal Boys had a resurgence, and Yvonne was among the most popular. Here she is with fellow Boys” from a London season. She not only played “Boy”, but from the mid ’70’s through the 1980’s she directed pantomimes expertly, particularly at the Theatre Royal Norwich. Here are a few links to articles published today. One from the Theatre Royal.

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/tributes_to_a_well_known_norwich_pantomime_star_in_the_1970s_and_1980s_1_4880436

http://news.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk/rip-yvonne-marsh/

She also appeared on television screens in BBC’s comedy series “You Rang M’Lord” from 1988 to 1993. She played Madge Cartwright in the popular series.

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Before playing Principal Boy roles she appeared for Emile Littler in pantomimes as Principal Girl parts. Here in “Little Miss Muffet” as Goody.

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Yvonne Marsh far right.

Yvonne was the sister of Actress Jean Marsh, who came to fame through “Upstairs Downstairs” which she co-created, and its return to the screens in 2010.

Her contribution to the theatre at Norwich was enormous, and her years as performer and director will be long remembered.yvonnemarsh1

 

 

 

Birmingham Panto Party Night!

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I dashed up to Birmingham on Thursday (26th January) to catch up with panto mates at the wrap party for the Hippodrome’s Qdos panto”Dick Whittington”.

It’s a fantastic show, loads of comedy, spectacle and great effects from The Twins as you’d expect in this premier venue!

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Andrew Ryan & Nigel Ellacott

Lovely to meet up with panto mates- some of us go back quite a long way!. Above there’s me with Andrew Ryan (mid shipwoman Mid Show) and his lovely wardrobe lady Nicky Evans, and Janette (Krankie) Tough and Allan Stewart. I did “Cinderella” with Allan for the Millennium at Edinburgh Kings. A Magical New Year that was!

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Nigel & Andrew

The party was a gathering of the great and good from Qdos and from the ATG (Ambassadors Theatre Group) who come together this season to present over thirty pantomimes- Great to see Nickand Sandra Thomas, Michael Harrison, Jonathan Kiley and Mark Sherwood  in the Qdos Lounge after the show.

It was a busy day. I did my show in East London and had my after show shower in Birmingham! Funny old job this! Got to the Hippodrome well after curtain up, but I’ve seen the joyous show three times. Joined Andrew Ryan and  my panto mates in the Qdos Lounge after the panto, and we jollied and chatted and eat and drank until 2.30am. Nice to see fellow Dames Chris Hayward (just finished his long Newcastle season as Fairy Godmother) along with panto Dame David Robbins (Southend) and Dame and Author Alan McHugh.

Stuart Griffiths (now in charge of programming for ATG) was there along with Tony Priestley. Tony has been looking after the costumes here at the Hippo for the season. He and I were involved in the Wilton’s Music Hall panto with Roy and Debbie Hudd earlier this Winter.

Lovely to see Val and Theresa Nalton (Theresa is the Qdos wardrobe head, as was her Mother Val before her) )and Qdos  marketing chiefs Adrian LeSurf and Mark Jones. Gary and Yvonne Hind were there-Gary created some amazing music for the Palladium Pantomime this year, along with several other venues.

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Andrew with his award.

The cast of the Hippodrome attended their special in panto awards ceremony- hosted by Kage Douglas (he plays Sultan Vinegar) and Company Manager Lucy Westnidge. Speeches by John Barrowman and awards going to Andrew Ryan, Matt Slack, Roanne Bray, Steve McFadden and Janette Krankie- collecting her “blooper”award!

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Andrew & Janette

It was a night when many of us remembered our dear friend and fellow Dame Brian Godfrey. Brian died just a year ago. He would have loved tonight’s Qdos celebration in Birmingham. Here are a few pictures of the man himself. So sadly and dearly missed.

Brian Godfrey

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