Skip to content

The Real Deal!

October 13, 2013

Saturday..A day off from the Pantomime Roadshow? Not this week-end! Nathan, Andrew and I finished our ten shows for The Mayflower on Friday evening after a great week spreading the Panto Gospel around Southampton, Fareham and Southsea.

Southsea gave us all the chance to meet up with our mate Christopher Marlowe, Panto Dame and Colin. Chris met us at a café near to his home, and a stone’s throw from The King’s Theatre in Southsea. He will be giving his Queen Gertrude The Gorgeous this season in “Sleeping Beauty” for New Pantomime Productions, alongside Lynn McGrainger (A Southsea regular when she’s not Home but Away and Daniella Westbrook.

Chris is now a local celeb. Everyone we passed in the street stopped to say hello- the price of appearing on “Come Dine With Me” you see! Chris was joint winner over the Christmas Holidays. Had a good catch up, and the chance to take a quick glimpse at the gorgeous Matcham Theatre, The King’s.,


It was at this Theatre , way back that Peter Robbins and I attended the Panto “Cinderella” and a party thrown by Lionel Blair. We were at the Mayflower that year in the same subject, but both companies got on like a Palace on fire. What a great bill at Southsea- Lionel as Buttons, the late Stephanie Lawrence as a gorgeous Cinders, Molly Sugden and her husband Bill as Fairy and Baron, Ross Davidson as Prince and Michael Gyngell as Dandini.

This year Michael will be our director at Venue Cymru in Llandudno! Them’s very safe hands!

Anyway- I digress! Saturday was our day off before heading for the Panto Roadshow week for the Alhambra in Bradford. Then I got an e-mail. Would Andrew & I be available to do an early morning appearance on the telly in full Dame apparel- of course we would! The programme- David Dickinson’s Real Deal, and as it goes out in late December , on the 20th in fact at either 2pm or 3pm- we are doing a few short promos for “Text Santa” which goes on during the day.


Its not often Dame Dolly and Dame Trott are up and at ‘em at 6.15am and in front of the cameras by 8.45am but we did, and a very jolly time we had too. The drive from Southampton to Birmingham was fine, and the Hotel a short distance from a large venue in Edgebaston.The Television Company who make “The Real Deal” are RDF Television for ITV. The entire crew were there overnight, and a very friendly lot they were, headed by Peter Smith Producer and Paul Tasker Series Editor.

Ever since I began donning the crinolines back in the old days (and no, I DIDN’T meet Dan Leno!) almost every occasion that involves getting ready to become a Panto Dame involves being shown to a small toilet, usually with a small mirror and one chair. The odd exception being a Swimming pool changing cubicle in Bournemouth, and a church- yes, the aisle of a church in midwinter!

photo 3.aJPG

Today no exception. Another opening, another toilet- but we both managed to get in, get made up and with a struggle both get into crinolines without mishap. I still remember Peter bless his heart, balancing his make-up and jewellery on a toilet cistern at some press call and hearing a splash and a wail as I left.. The glamour!

photo 5.aJPG

In full gear by 8.30 we were taken to the main room where the set, the crew and the dealers were assembled. The public were in holding bays in other rooms awaiting a decision as to whether their prized treasures would be accepted for viewing. More than a few left the building clutching a bubble wrapped item- one muttering “I told you it was ebay for this lot.. I told you!”

photo 1.aJPG  photo 2a

Met up with Mr Dickinson, and within minutes we rehearsed then filmed the sections to introduce the special “Text Santa” portions of the show- a bit of banter and some festive jollity beside the Christmas Tree- a lot of mugging and eyelash batting, and a great deal of Real Deal fun! We may have been David’s Bobby Dazzlers, but we were not Cheap as Chips!

photo 1   photo 2

No sooner had we arrived on set we were done- and it took longer to pack the costumes and take off the make up than it did to shoot. Job done- now retail therapy in The Bullring before setting off for Bradford and The Alhambra Pantomime Roadshow!

After Bradford we’ll spend the week-end wintering in the Vegas Of The North (Blackpool) before heading up to the SECC Glasgow Roadshow, then back to London. The next week is half term, so we take a break, and then return to Wolverhampton for the Grand Pantomime Roadshow for a week- a chance to catch up with old friends at the Theatre, AND to visit my adopted Tapir, Tallullah at Dudley Zoo once again!


13th October- So for now it’s a week at the beautiful Hotel where Henry Irving spent his last night and died on the very staircase I’m looking at now One Hundred and Eight Years to the day! 13th October 1905. A piece of Theatre History on my doorstep tonight- Bram Stoker (Sir Henry’s Manager)was assisting Irving to his room after his last performance as Becket when he collapsed. His statue now stands in the street named after him next to the National Portrait Gallery in London. The chair from this hotel, where he was placed is now at the Garrick Club in London’s West End.


Take a look at this site for more information on Sir Henry Irving and Bram Stoker.

From → Miscellaneous

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: