Barbara’s Aida Foster Chums


We recently received an email from a production company working alongside the  BBC regarding a forthcoming project. It looks at the lives of celebrities and their contemporaries In Dame Barbara’s case fellow pupils of Aida Foster School.

The school provided children for West End shows and Pantomime, as well as running a succesful agency. When I first arrived in London I was taken on by the Aida Foster Agency with Anita Foster at the helm.

Here’s a request for information from the Television Company:

We’re currently developing a new BBC programme that involves a celebrity’s journey into their past to find out how the lives of their contemporaries have panned out, all while tapping into iconic moments of social history.

We came across this wonderful photo of Barbara Windsor as an Aida Foster Juvenile in “Sleeping Beauty” at the Golders Green Hippodrome, at age 13/14:


This was Barbara Windsor’s (born Barbara Ann Deeks) Pantomime debut (1950-51), and we’re looking for people who feature in the photograph alongside Barbara!

If this is you or if you recognise one or two faces, we would love to hear from you!

Please get in touch with researcher Laura Hartung at or call +44 203 773 7182. Thank you!

Here’s another Aida Foster picture sent to us a few years ago- The date is 1953


are you in either of these pictures?



To Me To You- 50 years!


The Chuckle Brothers, Paul and Barry celebrate Fifty Incredible years of ShowBusiness this year. Here they are at the launch of this season’s Nottingham Theatre Royal “Jack & The Beanstalk”.

We celebrated the Chucks a few years back with a feature in our IBY “Spotlight” series. Here is the link to it on the site. It is a gift, From Me, to you!


Palladium Days!


Photographs courtesy of Craig Sugden

Wednesday 11th January 2016

A glorious day backstage at The London Palladium doing a panto style “Make-Over” on two lovely ladies, Norie and Louise!

Norie Lijima won a competition run by Qdos, The Palladium (RUG) and SOLT Accompanied by her friend Louise Forster the ladies were met at The Palladium, given a tour of the building- they especially enjoyed The Royal Box- and then got a Panto Dame style make-over with me before heading for the stage!


Craig Sugden was at hand along with staff from the Palladium to do a Photo Shoot on the set of Cinderella’s Palace Finale, joined by Mark Jones from Qdos Entertainment and Elizabeth Stormfield from SOLT. Teresa at Qdos supplied a pair of fabulous costumes for the event, and we had a lot of fun during the afternoon!


I’m in awe of the backstage changes to the Palladium. It is carpeted throughout and looks very spruced up to my last visit a few years ago. The wings were packed with the props and scenery for the evening’s pantomime- including my old car! Yes- the beautiful Rolls Royce that I had to make my entrance in “Sleeping Beauty” two years ago is now The Baroness’s mode of transport for Paul O’Grady! In between it was borrowed by someone called err.. oh yes, Glenn Close for “Sunset Boulevard” at the Coliseum- which means the lovely Ria Jones rode in it as well!


After the ladies left for dinner- followed by  champagne in the VIP room and the show, I packed up my make-up and headed front of house to take my seats in K row (Thanks Jess!) to see The most glorious and magical Pantomime!


After nearly thirty years the Magic of Pantomime has returned to its home- and it couldn’t be more magical if it tried! Bookings are already being taken I’m sure for next year’s “Dick Whittington”. Book early-It will be a total sell out!


Qdos & ATG : The Stage 10/1/20

Qdos, which produced 26 pantomimes in the last season, including Cinderella at the London Palladium, will partner with ATG. Photo: Paul Coltas/Steve Williams


ATG dumps panto division to reunite with Qdos

Qdos, which produced 26 pantomimes in the last season, including Cinderella at the London Palladium, will partner with ATG. Photo: Paul Coltas/Steve Williams

Ambassador Theatre Group has announced a new partnership with the UK’s leading pantomime producer Qdos Entertainment, in a move that will see ATG dissolve its own pantomime division.

The move marks a reunion for two of the biggest players in regional theatre. ATG and Qdos have previously worked together on pantomimes, however ties were severed upon the creation of First Family Entertainment by ATG and fellow theatre operator Live Nation in 2005.

The new development is also the latest in a number of structural shake-ups at ATG, which began when co-founders and joint chief executives Howard Panter and Rosemary Squire stepped down in May 2016 to be replaced by Mark Cornell.

It has now been confirmed that FFE chief executive Kevin Wood will step down at the end of the current pantomime season, along with associate producers Laura Taylor and George Wood.

Under the new partnership, market leader Qdos will produce pantomimes for ATG venues in addition to those it already creates. In 2016/17, Qdos produced 26 pantomimes – including the first to run at the London Palladium in almost 30 years, with FFE creating 10 at ATG venues.

Qdos managing director Michael Harrison confirmed that the new venture meant it would take on the roster of venues formerly held by FFE. However, there are no plans to expand into more ATG venues beyond that.

Prior to the formation of FFE in 2005, ATG made bids to acquire Qdos but these were rejected. Following the creation of FFE, Qdos lost its contract with ATG.

Harrison said the new arrangement marked a relationship that had “come full circle”.

“We’re looking forward to doing brand new shows for them and putting some existing shows, with some of our big stars and big productions, into those huge theatres. We [Qdos] have great relationships with major independent venues so there’s no reason why we can’t have a great relationship with ATG,” Harrison told The Stage.

“It’s a great time for pantomime, it’s very strong at the moment. We’ve had a terrific year, and of course the cherry on top of the cake has been an outstanding success at the Palladium, which I think has really turned eyes on to what pantomime means in the industry,” he added.

Harrison went on to say that while the new partnership constitutes a dominance of sorts in the pantomime market, there was still “room for all out there”.

“We’ve got to work towards delivering the best possible attractions at the busiest time of the year,” he added.

Qdos chairman Nick Thomas added: “We are delighted to be working with ATG, and look forward to introducing our pantomime productions and an array of star headliners to the ATG circuit.”

Panter and Squire’s departure from ATG last year kicked off a series of reshuffles, with the company focusing increasingly on its expansion into the global market – with key hires and acquisitions in the US. In the UK, a programme of compulsory redundancies was launched in November, as Cornell looked to free up funding for the company’s future growth.

Put a little more mascara on!

Andrew Ryan is currently playing Sarah The Cook in the Birmingham Hippodrome Pantomime “Dick Whittington””.

Here’s a stop frame video of his make up technique. Andrew generally goes out between shows, so he’ll be doing this twice a day from the Middle of December to the end of January!

Palladium Cinderella Opens!

The Qdos prouction of “Cinderella” has opened at the London Palladium.

Here are just a few taster pictures of this stunning production!



National Panto Day News!

Oh Yes It Is! Panto Day 2016 is just around the corner and with only one week to go until Friday 16th December, theatres up and down the country are getting ready for a whole host of celebrations.

Founded in 2011, Panto Day has since grown to become a much anticipated date in the calendar of pantomime passionistas, theatres, producers, performers and practitioners.

Friday 16th December will see venues participate in the annual festivities for the positive promotion of pantomime, which includes behind the scenes tours, competitions, Q&As and lots of activity on social media. Crosswords, wordsearches and colouring in sheets will be handed out in theatres with 2016 welcoming a new addition to Panto Day’s funsheets – a make-her-yourself Patricia the Panto Day cow!

2015 saw hashtag #pantoday trend for seven hours as performers tweeted their #pantopouts and gave a glimpse behind the Pantoland curtain. With social media at the heart of celebrations, photographs, videos, memories and sneak peeks will be shared with the world.

The Panto Advice Page will see four new articles added encompassing the topics of flying, playing Principal Girl, performing as Principal Boy and approaching the role of Villain.

In addition, the National Database of Pantomime Performance will release its annual statistics and reveal which pantomime titles are the season’s most popular.
Joining Panto Day docu-features on music and the Dame, 2016 sees an in depth interview with Michael Harrison, MD of Qdos Entertainment, who as well as producing 23 of the country’s regional pantomimes, is the company behind pantomime’s return to the London Palladium.
And for those wanting to learn more about the history and development of the artform, the Victoria and Albert Museum is holding a Pantomime Study Day on Panto Day itself with a special appearance from one of the UK’s leading Dames.
Panto Day Founder Simon Sladen said:
“Panto Day is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Britain’s favourite artform. It’s unbelievable just how much celebrations have grown over the past five years and how many people from across the world get involved.”
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