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Betty’s Blog- And Now, The End Is Near!

March 8, 2014


Friday 7th March 2014

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A beautiful sunny day, and spring has sprung. An omen maybe that it is time to tidy the tinsel and put the panto to bed? Certainly this last lunchtime show was packed with groups from Essex and Kent all out for a good time!

When the curtain has fallen and the audience has left a strange spooky figure can be seen in the auditorium. It is believed to be the gaffer who can’t keep away. He wear, so they say, a dressing gown that was once white, but he washed it with a red paper serviette in the pocket. It now glows a ghostly pink. Here is a rare sighting.

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During todays show Betty was a little surprised when asked to supply goods- A Side Of Bacon, A sack of Tea and a cheese that her delivery man had made a switch! Underneath my counter was a large tin of coffee, A Tin of Jacobs Crackers and a pullet! That took a bit of remembering for the gag I can tell you! I’m not sure who delivered the goods but Mr Hayes was standing in the wings grinning, so that might be a clue?

Rusty discovered that the till was mobile when he went to rob it! It slid across the counter at the speed of light aided by a wire. Clever, these shopfitters!

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The Brick Lane Staff at your service. Always with a smile too!

Visiting today was Brian Walker and Joni Talks. Fresh from entertaining the residents of care home in the South East as part of Brick   Lane’s “Outreach” company- with Michael Topping as Pianist. Brian is not only a talented performer but also a highly accomplished artist. It is his hand that has created the signs and whitty ditties you’ll find around the place- on walls and doors, and most recently on Rusty’s Star Loo door!

Joni will be starting rehearsals on Monday for Brick   Lane’s “Irish Show”, which I’ll be in to see in a week or two!


Also in to see the show today was a Dame Of The British Empire- Bryan Burdon. Bryan held court for twenty five years at the Theatre Royal Windsor as Dame in pantomimes there, often performing in front of your actual Royals!


One season he did starring alongside Ernie Wise had a memorable “Haunted Bedroom” scene in it. Preserved for posterity, it can be seen on this handy “youtube” link!


Bryan and Ernie


Bryan is second generation Pantomime Royalty. He began his panto career aged seventeen as a stooge to his famous father- Albert Burdon. Albert appeared in major pantomimes throughout the country and in the West End, and I could fill a blog on his career alone. In fact I’m looking at his poster now, as one of my favourite pieces of Panto Art is framed on my wall- the Poster from Albert’s “Queen Of Hearts” at the Lyceum Theatre London. (Currently the home of “The Lion King”.)

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I found this on the web today, describing Bryan during his tenure at Windsor Pantomimes:

Albert Burdon did, among other things) a cod illusionist act – he called
‘volunteers’ from the audience, who were actually part of the act – one
was a Teddy Boy who thought it was his chance to be discovered as a
singer, I remember.
This part was played by Albert’s son
Bryan (still working – a pantomime
regular at the Windsor Theatre Royal). I worked with Bryan on R&R tours
in the early 60s, and he could still do the physical comedy – I remember
him showing me how he could fall off the top of a wardrobe, which
startled the landlady somewhat … Albert’s magic cabinet act finished
with the cabinet spinning, and the volunteers hanging on to it,
apparently horizontal owing to the speed of the spin.
Naturally it was actually a feat of strength.

Bryan went on a few years later to appear in “Cinderella” with his father as Ugly Sister. This was again at the Theatre Royal Newcastle. This is the theatre where Michael Harrison from Qdos has been presenting the blockbuster pantomimes each year starring Clive Webb & Danny Adams and Chris Hayward. Peter and I had the great joy of appearing there in Michael’s first “Cinderella” at this beautiful Theatre with Jill Halfpenny and Clive & Danny’s first panto there. Michael will in fact be in to see our show here tomorrow!

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Here’s a photo of the Swansea Grand Theatre Panto Cast!

Bryan Burdon swelled the number of Water Rats in Dressing Room Number One again today. As a PPR (A Past Prince Rat) of the GOWR (Grand Order Of Water Rats) he joined the two artistes he proposed for the order- Paul and Rusty. Quite apt really as he was chatting to Mr Goffe in the dressing room as Rusty applied his King Rat Make up!


A veteran of Panto and a regular Music Hall performer here at Brick Lane, Bryan holds a distinction near to my heart- He was the regular presenter on Televisions puppet show “Pinky & Perky” in the late 1950’s! In 1957 he presented this show, which went on to run until 1971. Jimmy Thompson also presented later, and the singing voices of these two perky pigs was supplied by Mike Sammes. (He of the famous Mike Sammes Singers). The records of these two Piglets sold like hot cakes- odd really as they were recordings at high speed that sounded as if they were on helium!


Bryan starred in the legendary Fol De Rols alongside Leslie Crowther on tour and in seasons around the country, Fronted hundreds of R&R tours as compere, and  appeared on television in 1960 with Dickie Henderson, beginning a career on TV that has included “Victoria Wood As Seen On TV”.

He understudied Mickey Rooney in “Sugar Babies” in The West End, appearing alongside Anne Miller!

Lovely to see Bryan and have a quick catch up!

Here’s a bill from Clacton for Two Shows- both featuring Andrew & Rusty and one double act I worked with during the 1970’s- Gordon & Bunny Jay!

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Sun still out as we left the building at 5pm today. Difficult to believe the Panto here is almost over- just one completely sold out and packed to the rafters evening show tomorrow, then a return visit on Monday to pack all my costumes and wigs and “Follow The Van” and try not to “Dilly Dally On The Way”!



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One Comment
  1. PAUL PERKINS permalink

    That poster from Clacton featuring Bernie Clifton…..
    It was not from the 1970’s, Freddie Davies seems to think it was much later when I copied it and sent it to him
    He reckons it was 1995.

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