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Drag Racing!

May 17, 2013

Well- a very busy week up the West Midlands, seeing old friends and new friends, and, last Sunday remembering a very dear friend- Ian Sandy at his Gala Tribute Show at the Hippodrome.

With Iain Watkins from The Grand

With Iain Watkins from The Grand

After leaving Birmingham for London, made a trip to Wolverhampton to drop off the costumes I’d be wearing at the Express & Star Business Awards on Thursday. Passing the Dock Door on Monday I was able to see the massive get-in in progress for “Nine To Five” that was opening that evening, starring the fabulous Ben Richards- he of “Footballer’s Wives” and of course “Priscilla” fame.

Set off on a visit to my adopted Tallullah The Tapir at Dudley Zoo- parking next to the sad and desperately neglected Dudley Hippodrome. This massive building once hosted the stars of variety before the grip of television took hold. It became inevitably a Bingo Hall, and now is very much in decline. I know there are efforts to save this deco building, and I just wonder what purpose it could be put to- nestling as it does between Birmingham’s Hippodrome and Wolverhampton’s Grand Theatre. Such a shame to see the poor old girl looking so sad.

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Tallullah, on the other hand was looking very perky and she’s grown! followers of the Trott blog this season will remember she was a lot smaller! This afternoon we spent a few hours in the company of Tallullah, her Mother Mina, and, in another enclosure her Brother Ronnie, Father Chico and baby sister Eve. I say “Baby”- when you tickle a Tapir behind the ear it rolls over and shakes a leg. Eve rolled over and it took a while to extricate my foot!

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Many thanks to Julia at Dudley Zoo for letting us stop by and say hello to Tallullah and the strange large rodents who share her enclosure. I was told these are the world’s largest rodents. “Pop over to Ilford and see what I get in my garden” I thought… “You might change your mind!”


Returning to the Grand Wolverhampton on Thursday for the Express & Star Business Awards, I thought it was a small world. Peter Cutchie the CEO of The Grand was heading down to London to spend the afternoon at Charles Vance’s Memorial held in St.Paul’s Covent Garden. Mr Cutchie would be with my Brother Vivyan at the memorial and at the TMA (Theatre Managers Association) afterwards. As “Sisters” Peter Robbins and I made our second appearance in panto for Charles Vance at Porthcawl. Small and funny old world.

En route I was sent a picture by email from Nick Potter- Nick is archivist for Qdos, and was delving through the history of the Lyceum Theatre Crewe, which Qdos have just taken over the management of, and will present Panto this year. Nick came across this poster! What a wonderful souvenir- I hadn’t seen it before. There is Peter Robbins in his first “Sister” role the year before we worked together, and continued to work together in plays and pantos for almost thirty years!


The next thing I find on my email was a picture of Peter and I at City Variety Leeds in “Wind In The Willows”,a long while ago-

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! Just as I thought the past was finished returning… I had a message from Panto “Sister” Martin Ramsdin to say he’d spotted a picture of Peter and myself from way back in a Roadshow in this week’s “Take A Break” magazine! How random! The picture was there to illustrate the really hard question in a quiz “Which Pantomime has Ugly Sisters”. Don’t write to me- enter the Take A Break Quiz- there’s a thousand quid prize apparently!

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On to Wolverhampton where Iain Watkins and Louise Bent looked after me superbly. The Business Awards were at the Dunstall Park Race Track. Iain informed me that I would be changing into Dame in the Lady Jockey’s Changing Rooms at the Racetrack. “I bet that’s a first” he said. “Almost” I said.. when Peter & I changed into a Panto horse costume in a stable at Carlisle Racetrack and Jeanette Krankie rode us to victory in the 2,30, that was quite similar! No one told any of us that this involved REAL race horses. Big, snorting, stamping race horses. We ran so fast Jeanette fell off miles back and we just kept on going!

The Express & Star Awards were great fun, and it was a lovely evening mixing, mingling and telling everyone about the forthcoming “Sleeping Beauty” at The Grand Theatre, starring Joe Pasquale and Ceri Dupree. Then back to the Lady Jockey’s changing rooms, trying not to bang my head.. well, they are jockey’s after all- terrible lighting. I have NO idea how they do their make-up before a race, I really don’t..

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The picture to the right is a double panto pic- Midlands TV Presenter Joanne Malin was compering the Business Awards, and will be appearing at the Lichfield Garrick Theatre this Panto season as The Wicked Queen in “Snow White”- it will be her third panto at the venue.

The Theatre was involved with hospitality at the awards dinner, and it was a really lovely evening. Lots of very jolly people there!

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Had the great joy of having a drink with Louise who organises our Panto Roadshow each year (we are back in Wolverhampton with the Panto Roadshow week commencing 4thy November!) AND a drink with the gorgeous Fiona Whitehouse, who looked after me in the Quick Change room throughout the last panto! Talking of panto I now know where I will be this forthcoming season, it will be..Oh. I haven’t checked if I can announce it yet. I’d better do that first before saying a word. My lips are sealed in the meantime.. mmmph.. many happy returns..

From → Miscellaneous

One Comment
  1. Terry Powell permalink

    Many happy returns to where Nigel; that is the question!

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