Happy Birthday Brick Lane!


Twenty Five years of Brick Lane Music Hall! Enjoyed a night at the Music Hall last Saturday, with a show devised by Vincent Hayes to celebrate a quarter century of entertainment.

This week “The Stage” newspaper has run a special feature on Vincent Hayes and The Brick Lane Music Hall. Here’s the link:


Here we all are after the show, with guests Anita Harris, her husband Mike Margolis and Tom Owen, from “Last Of The Summer Wine”  joining Kate Plantin, casting director, and Derek Martin. Derek is better known as Eastender’s Charlie Slater.

Andrew Ryan and myself joined Danny Lawton backstage with Vincent Hayes and Andrew Robley.

Today was Anita’s Birthday! As part of the show Lucy Reed and Shelby Morgan sang a tribute to Anita Harris, and as a surprise she joined them on stage, and sang a number.

The show featured a great Pantomime line-up with characters from various Brick Lane Pantomimes over the years, costumed by Zara Kattan in shades of red and gold. Stunning! In January BLMH is presenting “Aladdin”- a grown-ups pantomime,  from January through to March 2018.


Jordan and Lucy


Anita on stage – The Birthday girl herself!


Carry On Anita!


On The Town!

With the Summer upon us, Brick Lane’s Outreach project takes to the schools of Newham, and this year the Brick Lane teams will be introducing the primary school children to Lionel Bart’s “Oliver!”, with a performance in each of the selected schools before term ends. Here are some of the Music Hall gang taking part.


First Day at School!


A great celebration of a show- thank you Vincent for Twenty Five Glorious Years. Here’s to the next Twenty Five!


Ashleigh & Sullivan- Champions!


Huge Congratulations to Ashleigh Butler and Sullivan- or to give him his full title, The Closet Monster Of Ashpen!

Sullivan is officially Agility Champion, having run through his course like a streak of lighting in France this month as part of the Team GB.


Pudsey at Crufts this March

In March I had a great day at Crufts in Birmingham watching Ashleigh put Pudsey through his paces in his last appearance at Crufts in the agility final. Sullivan won small singles that day with two firsts, and two seconds…. and now He’s World Class!


Looking forward to joining the trio of Ashleigh, Pudsey and Sullivan again when rehearsals begin for The Wycombe Swan in November- meeting up with Simon Webb again, and working with my mate Chris Jarvis for the first time in Beanstalkland! Can’t wait!


Photograph by Les Wilson.

Dame Dolly’s Edinburgh Adventure


Steve Boyce is taking his alter ego, Dame Dolly Donut on a journey into Fringe Pantoland- Appearing for the whole of the Fringe Season in a play that will appeal, like Pantomime itself, to children and adults of all ages.

The show will play seven days a week for the duration of the Fringe At C (venue 34) with a running time of one hour. Once daily at 1.35pm!

For more information click on the link:


Also you can follow Dame Dolly on twitter @DameDollyShow





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 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.


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 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.


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”.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:


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.













British Panto Awards!


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.


Dick Whittington

Birmingham Hippodrome



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:


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Emily Wood & Paul Hendy. Evolution


The Marlowe Canterbury Pantomime

And in the below 750 seater category the winner was:



Basildon Panto

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

Sponsored by Production, Light and Sound


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


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


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!


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.


Pudsey on beginners!


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.


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

Craft Of Panto Workshop Details



Craft of Panto – A panto workshop

Oh no it isn’t! Oh yes it is!

Sunday April 2nd 2017     10am-5pm


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.


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

LL30 2sw

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


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: