Christmas Messages from Dick Whittington- Plymouth Style!




Felicity Fitzwarren-Nigel Ellacott- addresses the Nation!

Idle Jack- Andy Ford- reveals his Christmas Goodies!

The Spirit Of The Bells- Samantha Womack sends Christmas tidings!

King Rat- John Partridge – on the subject of Christmas Sprouts!


Dick Whittington Plymouth Advert!

Here’s the Great debate of Cream or Jam First brought to life!

Switch on Southampton!

The Mayflower Theatre Southampton pantomime “Dick Whittington” was dancing on Ice for the Christmas Lights Switch On this week. Panto Stars Suzanne Shaw and Andrew Ryan started the countdown to the City Centre lights switch-on.

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Andrew Ryan gets his skates on!

Andrew Joined Suzanne Shaw for the day at a pop up ice-rink in the City Centre. Suzanne, Star of “Dancing On Ice” joined Wave FM DJ Mark Collins and Panto Dame Andrew on the podium to switch on the City Centre Lights, in the company of Southampton’s Mayor, Stephen Barnes-Andrews and a local competition winner.

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Suzanne and Andrew

The Switch -on ceremony launched Santa’s flight over Southampton, with the German Market stalls below.

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Here are a few more pictures from Thursday’s event. The Panto cast will meet up on December 3rd to start rehearsals for “Dick Whittington” which opens at The Mayflower on Saturday 15th December.


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Mark Collins from Wave FMSoton Xmas

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The Qdos Catalogue 2018-19


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Q D O S   E N T E R T A I N M E N T



NOVEMBER 2018 – 27 JANUARY 2019





Newcastle’s Stunning pantomime “Goldilocks And The Three Bears” is already in rehearsal, with Michael Harrison at the helm, with rehearsal rooms in London and all over the UK about to be filled with the magic of Pantomime.


Beginning later this month, an array of stars from the world of Stage, Screen and Entertainment will light up thirty-five theatres across the nation for this year’s Qdos Entertainment pantomime season celebrating the very best of British traditions for the festive season.


Snow White at the London Palladium will lead the season’s programming with a cast including Dawn French in her pantomime debut, Julian Clary, Nigel Havers and Paul Zerdin whilst nationwide Danny Adams, Robin Askwith, Ashley Banjo and Diversity, Shirley Ballas, David Bedella, Christopher Biggins, Zoe Birkett, Cannon & Ball, Richard Cadell & Sooty, John Challis, Chico, Paul Chuckle, Bernie Clifton, Brendan Cole, Michelle Collins, Brian Conley, Darren Day, Bobby Davro, Les Dennis, Anita Dobson, Sheila Ferguson, Flawless, Gareth Gates, The Grumbleweeds, Jaymi Hensley, Lesley Joseph, The Krankies, Robert Lindsay, Joe McElderry, Steve McFadden, May McFettridge, Debbie McGee, Connor McIntyre, Lee Mead, Paul Merton, Gavin Mitchell, Jimmy Osmond, Tom Parker, John Partridge, Joe Pasquale, Billy Pearce, Marti Pellow, Craig Revel Horwood, Ben Richards, Shane Richie, Lisa Riley, Lee Ryan, Suzanne Shaw, Sooty, Elaine C Smith, Louie Spence, Allan Stewart, Meera Syal, Ryan Thomas, Gok Wan, Ian H Watkins, Simon Webbe, Jonathan Watson, Jonathan Wilkes, Samantha Womack, Jordan Young and Adam Woodyatt are amongst those treading the boards around the UK.

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Winner of the last year’s Olivier Award for Best Family and Entertainment and renowned for staging high-quality productions which are both contemporary and true to the traditions of pantomime, 2018 will see Qdos Entertainment continue to bring festive magic to stages across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. With a host of star names and creative collaborators each production is precisely staged with extravagant production values, astounding choreography and spectacular special effects.


Nick Thomas, Chairman of the Qdos Entertainment Group, said: “We have this week begun rehearsals for our 2018 season which we are all very much looking forward to.  We have over 1,000 actors, dancers, singers and musicians joining us this year to entertain families in thirty-five theatres across the UK in productions of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Dick Whittington, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Jack and the Beanstalk, Peter Pan, of Robin Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.  We can’t wait to get started!”

 As the world’s biggest pantomime producer, over the past 36 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 719 pantomimes and this season expects that around two million people will see one of its shows.

 Qdos Entertainment has been fund-raising for Great Ormond Street Hospital’s since 2010. Thanks to the generosity of theatregoers, as well as fund-raising by Qdos Entertainment staff, over £1.25 million has been raised to date, with fundraising continuing this festive season.

download (2) has a full listing of all the Qdos Pantomimes for this season, with full cast lists to follow as soon as they are released. All listings and all the posters can be found in our Diary Section.

Full season details and further information on Qdos Entertainment is also available at


Llandudno Panto Roadshow- Diolch!

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Fabulous weather for a week of Panto fun in Llandudno for Venue Cymru. Organised beautifully by Rachel Jones, who looks after Education for Venue Cymru, we did ten shows in the Conwy area.


Delighted to play to some of the schools who visit The Venue Cymru Pantomime each year, the names I remember well from my Three Pantomime seasons at the theatre, and it is not often you get to visit some of the beautiful views in North Wales as part of your working day! Conwy Castle being just one!


Conwy by the way has a tea shop with the finest Welsh Raebit in the Principality- rivalled only by the tea room in Salts Mill, Bradford!

This year the Roadshow regulars, Andrew Ryan, Grant Alvarez and myself took the Magic Of Pantomime to Llandulas, Conwy, Colwyn Bay, Abergele, Llysfaen as well as several shows in Llandudno itself. We tell the children about Pantomime, and the traditions, as well as quizzing them on Fairytales.

Llandudno town has its own “Alice In Wonderland” trail, where you can find statues of the Lewis Caroll characters dotted about, and a Hotel, The St Tudno, where Alice Lidell and family stayed on their holidays.


Croeso!- Welcome to The Pantomime Roadshow!

We travelled up mountains and past waterfalls to take the show around the Conwy area, and back to base in Llandudno each evening to sample some of the best food that Wales has to offer! Lovely to stay at The Can Y Bae once again, my Pantomime home for a good few seasons here!


A lovely week promoting all things Panto, and of course this year’s Qdos Pantomime “Cinderella” at Venue Cymru. The class includes the delightful Dawson Chance as Baron Hardup. Peter Robbins and I enjoyed many panto seasons with Dawson playing our “Daddy” around the UK.


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Many thanks- Diolch yn Fawr – to Rachel, Richard Jones and to Sarah Ecob for a great Roadshow Week in North Wales- Thanks for looking after us so brilliantly!

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Panto Roadshow on the road!

10th October 2018


The Panto Roadshow has headed out once again this Autumn, calling at Basingstoke and Llandudno on the way! This week we’re representing The Anvil Theatre’s “Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs” pantomime in the area, and had the good fortune to run into panto enthusiast Joshua Dixon, a regular contributor to the site, on our journeys!

Here’s what Josh had to say about experiencing our touring “Magic Of Pantomime Roadshow” today-

I was thrilled to be able to represent Anvil Arts at the Pantomime
Roadshow this morning hosted by the amazing team at It’s Behind You.
It was a joy to see their hilarious, fast-paced show which not only
kept the children amused with fart gags and references to Peppa Pig
and the ever-catchy Baby Shark but also introduced them to the
characters and traditions of pantomime. I must admit to laughing at
the toilet humour just as much as the children!


It was lovely to chat to Nigel about the history of the Roadshow
itself and the many incidents that have come with it including fire
alarms going off mid-show!

After a swift break, the children were invited to take part in a
question and answer session. I was only too happy to answer any
questions about The Anvil itself and touched upon the size of the
venue and the post-show auditorium clear up… a mammoth task indeed!
One particular child asked a question regarding Andrew Ryan’s quick
change into the Pantomime Dame. This brought back memories of my
childhood and how amazed I was watching the Dame make many a speedy
entrance, each with a brand new costume. It was a great chance for the
children to find out more about pantomime but also what goes on

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A huge thank you to Nigel, Andrew and Grant.


Dani & Chris

We’ve had a great week here at Basingstoke, and wish lots of luck to the panto Director also appearing as  Muddles The Jester, our mate Chris Pizzey- better known as Mr Steven to Basil Brush fans


Chris Pizzey is here with Dani Harmer as Snow White.The show is presented by Martin Dodd for UK Productions.


Next week we are back in Llandudno for the Qdos /Venue Cymru Panto Roadshow celebrating Cinderella with Tom Parker, Herbie Adams and Natalie Winsor. More news from my second home next week!





September 29th 2018

A lover of panto, and a lover of history, and of course, a lover of Llandudno- I had to be there today! Venue Cymru and a host of partners presented a day dedicated to Pierrots- The Seaside Entertainers of yore, and a day dedicated to Will Catlin who brought the Pierrot Follies to Llandudno, and created the Arcadia Theatre to house it in.

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The Arcadia Tram and a young Will Catlin

Sarah Ecob at The Venue Cymru asked if I’d like to join in the fun today, and the opportunity to be a part of this celebration was gratefully received. Plus, I got to do some silly panto sketches on the prom with Stuart Loughland, a fellow Dame. Double Bubble!


Nigel Ellacott, Stuart Loughland & Steve Bloor

I was a Pierrot on a North Wales Promenade once! The Summer of 1977 I did Summer Season at Rhyl, and every morning did a Pierrot Show on the Bandstand!

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My Pierrot Days! I’m on the right with Philip Rostand, fellow artiste.Big hair days!

Each time I’ve played Dame at Venue Cymru, Stuart has been up the road in Theatr Colwyn presenting Panto, so this was a rare opportunity to meet up and catch up on all things Panto. Joining us on the Bandstand today was Colwyn Bay favourite Steve Bloor and fellow Panto artiste Libby Edwards, joined by a tech team from Venue Cymru, along with Rachel Jones, Educational co-ordinator for the Theatre.

The Pierrots in action!

For a full account of the day’s activities, here’s what the North Wales Pioneer newspaper has to say:

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We did three performances of Panto fun during the day, swapping over for The New Follies Pierrot show, and The Llandudno Youth Music Theatre to take to the stage.

when dressed as a Dame from 11am to 5pm my first thought is “where is the dressing room?” for that all important sit-down between shows. There are plenty of benches on the seafront, but too many seagulls..


So my thoughts went to “Safe Houses” to secrete oneself in, to partake of tea in between appearance. Many thanks to the Empire Hotel and The Imperial Hotel for taking in a Dame in need! Thanks also to The Can-Y-Bae Hotel for looking after me so well!


Margo Catlin with her Daughter and Grand Daughter

The day was dedicated to Will Catlin- The man who created pierrot troupes arounf the country. His theatre stood on the site of the Venue Cymru atrium and cafe, named in his honour. To make today even more special his daughter, Margo Catlin, her daughter and Grand Daughter were watching the festivities!

Margo lives in Llandudno, and has had close ties with Venue Cymru volunteering her services for many years. She and Grand Daughter Jane Smith have made an oral history of The Catlin Era.


Sarah Ecob , General Manager of Venue Cymru, co-ordinating today’s events. 

It was a full day, performing cookery business and gags with Stuart and Steve, and getting a chance to chat to Rachel about our Pantomime Roadsow. We’ll be back in two weeks with the Roadshow for Venue Cymru to visit ten schools in Conwy.

Had a great chat with Margo Catlin about the Arcadia Theatre- in the 1970’s I used to visit the Arcadia Theatre on my days off from Summer Season at The Gaiety Theatre Rhyl. It was a huge building, seating almost as many as the present Venue Cymru.


It was a joy to be here in my second home for some Panto, some history and some of the best pub food in Great Britain! Thanks to Stuart Loughland and Company for making me feel so welcome, and to Sarah and all at Venue Cymru for the invite!


Margot Catlin aboard the Follies Trolley!

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The Catlin Follies & The Arcadia

If you are interested in The story of Will Catlin, The Pierrot shows and The Arcadia, there is an excellent website. Here’s the link:


Will Catlin’s Arcadia circa 1930.

Today’s celebration and  story of the Arcadia and Will Catlin is the work of Venue Cymru, working alongside Bangor University, local archives and museums exploring the Seaside Pierrot Troupes.

It Incorporates the work of Dr Tony Lidington from his “Promenade Promotions”. Tony is an academic who also performs as Uncle Tacko in “The Pierrotters” that he founded in 1983


Jane Smith, Margot Catlin & Dr Lidington provided information and archive material from Will Catlin’s archive. Here’s an oral history from Will Catlin’s descendants, Margo Catlin and Jane Smith:

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Another Pierrot Troupe, produced by rival Harry Korris

In its time the site of the Arcadia and Venue Cymru has seen a theatre building that has changed shape, and frequently changed names. From its earliest origins as The Victoria Palace, it became The Llandudno Opera House, The Hippodrome, then The Arcadia (1916) and after demolition, the site was built on to the Aberconwy Centre which became The North Wales Theatre and now Venue Cymru!


Will Catlin “King of The Pierrots”

Born William Henry Fox in Leicester 1871. Aged 20 he married Ada Elizabeth Freer and had five daughters and a son. Will started performing in music hall, and in 1894 changed his name to “Catlin”- appearing as “Catlin & Carson” in Scarborough. He established his first Pierrot Troupe here in 1894.

In 1908 he bought a wooden building on the seafront in Scarborough and named it The Arcadia. This was later rebuilt as “The Futurist” and is now sadly in the process of being demolished.

He toured his highly successful troupes of seaside promenade players to Whitby, Withensea, Great Yarmouth, Bournemouth, Colwyn Bay, Aberystwyth and to Llandudno.

The first mention of Catlin performing in North Wales was in 1907. The next year his “Royal Pierrots” (Following a Command Performance) proved popular in the area “A Visit To North Wales would not be complete without a visit to Catlins”, and in 1915 he opened The Arcadia In Llandudno. It stood on the site of  the present day Venue Cymru.

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There had been a theatre on the Venue Cymru site since 1894. Originally named the Victoria Palace, it was built by Jules Rivière, a celebrated musical conductor. Catlin bought the venue and it became the home of Catlin’s Follies. The trams had “Catlin’s Follies” on the front and rear, and in the early days the pierrot troupes would arrive at Llandudno station to greet holidaymakers who flocked to the town for their week long break.


One of several display cases in Venue Cymru, an exhibition on the site of the Arcadia

Between the Wars entertainment changed, and in 1932 Will Catlin presented “The Evening Follies”- “The Champagne of Modern Entertainment”. He married his second wife, Doris Anderson in 1949 . They had two daughters.

He died on 15th January 1953 outside the Llandudno Arcadia. He was aged 85. On his coffin was placed a white Pierrot hat made from flowers, and a card reading “King Of The Pierrots”.


The Arcadia presented his Follies afterwards until the Arcadia was bought by.Llandudno Urban Council in 1968.It continued to provide entertainment to the town until 1993.



In the 70’s and 80’s Clive Stock and H Robertson Cleaver produced Summer shows. Ken Dodd was a regular performer, and Clive Stock and Gwen Overton sang nightly, while comics like Wyn Calvin, Bobby Dennis, Bryan Burdon and Gordon and Bunny Jay did sketches and routines, along with dancers choreographed by Cherry Willoughby. (Cherry also choreographed the Swansea Grand Pantomimes each year for John Chilvers).

When this 1977 Arcadia show was on- I saw it on a day off. I was at The Gaiety Theatre,  Rhyl down the road- Summer Season was big business. this was me at the time!

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Me in The Gaiety  Rhyl Season in 1977 


One of the summer season 1977 shows I was in at Rhyl.

Our show at The Gaiety was smaller than the Arcadia production, but we changed the show more often, did Pierrot Shows every morning, and three performances of Snow White Panto on a Thursday!

Music played a huge part in Summer Shows. The Arcadia has a large band. Les Brown and his musicians played in the pit of this 1147 seater, and the shows changed three times a week in the height of the Summer Season. From the tallest parts of the town you could identify the Arcadia by the huge sign painted on the roof.



The Arcadia closed in 1994, remained empty for ten years, and was demolished in 2005. The present Atrium and box office areas along with the café are on the site. The cafe is named after Will Catlin in his memory. Today was a great honour to a part of. Thanks to all at Venue Cymru!