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3 2 1- It’s Panto Time!

February 19, 2016

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Chris Emmett & The Brick Lane Company!

Wednesday 17th February 2016

Another esteemed visitor today- Panto Dame Chris Emmett! Panto afficianados will always hold Chris in high regard for his presentation of the wonderfu set of BBC Radio 2 Pantomimes that Chris wrote, broadcast on Christmas Day in the 1970’s.Available today from specialist dealers and ebay on disc, they featured the star names of the time, including greats from the past (like Arthur Askey) and their like has never been repeated.

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Here’s one that stars Anita Harris playing “Puss”, alonngside veteran Arthur Askey as Dame Flora. Anita will be appearing at Brick Lane shortly joining Vincent and the BLMH Company for the “Sixties” season here!

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Here’s Chris with June Whitfield and The King of Music Hall, Roy Hudd. They all appeared on Radio’s long running “News Huddlines”.

The Title of today’s blog gives it all away! I’m a huge fan of Chris Emmett’s appearances on Yorkshire Television’s “Quiz/Variety” show called “321”. It starred the wonderful Ted Rogers- the most lovely and witty comedian in a show format that ran on our Saturday Night screens for ten years from 1978. Every Saturday the ratings reached sixteen and a half million viewers! People fondly remember Ted’s sidekick, “Dusty Bin“, and the sketches and variety acts that were woven (very loosely!) into the show.

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Ted with Dusty Bin

When I worked in shows with Ted he always retired to his dressing room with the newspaper. He would emerge half an hour later with his act made up from the day’s events.

Chris in sketches for 321- here with fellow comic Mike Newman, and as Lord Nelson

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Chris with Frankie Howerd

The sketches were meant to add to the clues for the contestants, but everyone knew that the clues were incomprehensible, could mean almost anything, and the prize could be matching sheepskin coats or a holiday in Marbella! The sketches and turns involved every major name of the day on your screens early Saturday evening.

Here (from wiki) is one example of a clue a contestant would be given following a variety spot.

For example, a wishbone brought on by Sonny Hayes came with the clue “Take one that never changes, add a pub and a precious stone, bring them all up-to-date, and now, you’re on your own.”, which the contestants rejected hoping it referred to Dusty Bin. Rogers’ explanation of the clue was: “‘Take one that never changes’, well, that could be Dusty Bin which of course is where you might throw a wishbone. ‘Add a pub and a precious stone’, well, that doesn’t point to Dusty. ‘Bring them all up-to-date, and now you’re on your own.’. Well, what about the wishbone? Sonny said ‘a large wishbone’, so what might a large wishbone come from? Something larger than a chicken. Turkey, maybe? Now, ‘one that never changes.’ is a constant, a pub can also be an inn, there’s a lot of precious stones but how many go with ‘constant inn’? How about opal? Yes, Constantinople, up to date, the pride of Turkey, you’ve rejected a 3–2–1 holiday!”.

See what I mean?

I once saw my mates Gorden and Bunny Jay in Pantomime at The Cardiff New Theatre. Ted Rogers and Dusty Bin were topping the bill. Dusty was remote controlled. He could glide (slowly) and both his arms could move up and down. No animatronics in those days!

Unfortunately that show Dusty Bin glided too far forward for the controller sitting at prompt desk backstage.He was out of range. To Ted’s amusement (and the Stage Manager’s horror) Dusty got stuck. His eyes flashed and one arm jerked up and down. over and over. It brought the house down!

So a great delight for us to welcome Chris Emmett to the BLMH panto. He’s played Dame here several times, and was last here on Valentines day last year. Sadly my friend (Dr) Jack Watters who was watching “Babes In The Wood” with him passed away last Autumn. Jack would have loved to see our current panto- very much missed Jack.

Heres a picture of Jack Watters (third from left) from Last February at Brick Lane.

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The show went very well indeed today. The audience were all in great form, and though I say it myself, so were we!

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This week we have two shows – lunch and tea, and an evening on Saturday. It is even light when we leave the theatre these days, a sure sign of Spring being around the corner- and the schedule for rehearsals for BLMH’s Irish Show will be posted before you know it!

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Sam Sadler relaxes between Daisy The Cow entrances!

Before Spring has sprung I’ll be starting to sort out the Autumn “Pantomime Roadshow” tour- seems incredibly early, but theatres need lots of time to add to their marketing and educational schedules. I’ve not even put my sixteen-odd panto wigs back on the shelf yet from Llandudno panto, and it is time to sort out October and November! Brick Lane has already announced next year’s treat will be entitled “Schlepping Beauty!”

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Something rude has been said, I’m sure!

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The company headed “Up West” tonight- some to the theatre, others to go “clubbing”- some of us settled for an ovaltine and a sponge finger, but there you go. This is the gang en route for the bright lights!

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Congratulations to Brick Lane supporter Sherrie Hewson. Our mate Sherrie has been announced as the actress to take on the mantle of Mrs Mary Elizabeth Jennifer Rachel Abergavenny “Betty” Slocombe in the soon to be filmed “Are You Being Served”- a BBC affectionate tribute to this hugely succesful long running show. No pussies will be harmed in the making of this comedy pilot!

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More news after Saturday Night’s show.

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