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British icons: the panto extra

It um… pantomime actually originated in Italy um… but when it came to Britain um… of course we've got this wealth of variety and music hall tradition, it became um… a sort of Christmas variety show. But telling, as you know um… children's stories.
Jul 02,2015

Jackie: David, you mentioned that you've played some parts. Can you… can you tell me the names of some of the parts you've played.


David: Oh heavens. I've actually done in all um… I think 26 pantomimes.

Jackie: Wow

David: I've done Jack and the Beanstalk um… eight times. Jack and the Beanstalk is one of the favourites 'cos it's got such a wonderful story and it's got the giant and… and the villain is either called Baron Killjoy or something like that, or Baron Fleshcreep. You know um… I've got some favourites, Dick Whittington is one of my favourites cos that's a lovely story. I suppose um… the most popular of the lot is probably Cinderella, which I've never done because Cinderella doesn't have a villain.


Jackie: I was about to say who's the baddy in Cinderella.

David: It's the Ugly Sisters.

Jackie: Aha


David: I've never really come around to the idea of playing the Ugly Sisters. Um… and er… Aladdin is another of my favourites because it has such a wonderful story, Abanaza's such a nasty piece of work. And of course he, the villain, always gets defeated at the end, he mustn't win.


Jackie: Right


David: He mustn't win and the kids… the kids don't want him, they're baying for blood. The amazing thing about pantomime is the complete suspension of belief.


Jackie: Right


David: Because you get teenagers and you know they'll sit there thinking, I'd much rather be at the pictures, you know, or watching my computer, or something but sooner or later you get caught up with it.


Jackie: Because one of the um… key features of pantomime is the interaction with the audience, isn't it?


David: Yes, yes. Playing the baddy, I do have an armoury of what we call 'one-liners'…

Jackie: Right

David: …to um… shut them up. Because when the kids get a bit raucous, you get a few who start shouting out, you've got to be able to shut them up. And the best way to shut them up is to have a riposte that actually could be quite funny. In other words um… “if only I were a pigeon and you were a lamppost” [laughs] you see? Or things like that they'll boo but they'll laugh as well which gives you a chance to get on with the rest of it.


Jackie: Right


David: So you'd have a load of stuff like that to use on them.

Jackie: Thank you, David.

David: Thank you, thank you, Jackie.