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Friday 9th Feb: Sherrie Trifle!

February 12, 2018


Sherrie Hewson & Andrew Ryan at Brick Lane

Our Brick Lane Benidorm favourite, Sherrie Hewson popped in to see the Pantomime today. Since a Panto is all about joining in, we had little trouble persuading her to make a cameo appearance in Act Two, her lines attached to a clipboard in the guise of our Flight Attendant Sherrie Temple Savage!

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The audience had a great surprise, and we had a lot of fun, as you can imagine! Andrew Ryan joined Sherrie in the audience- they were both recently in “Beauty & The Beast” in Nottingham togather, where Andrew Directed and played Dame (For which I see he’s now been nominated in the GBPAwards).


Here is a sneaky video from the wings!


Had a great show, and a few drinks afterwards at the nearby Excel centre, before heading home. Sherrie is off tomorrow to join her friend Amanda Barrie to do some filming for Loraine on the Sunny South Coast.


Shelby and Sam backstage.

Tomorrow we have an evening show. I’m looking forward to the day off before the evening- The voice is a bit “ropey” and could do with keeping warm and keeping silent! never easy both of those!

Now, a few more of Twankey’s “Tit-Bits!” from History-


Andrew Robley at Brick Lane

When J.H.Byron christened his character “The Widow Twankay”, it would have made people laugh immediately. Twankay was a tea, popular in the 1860’s. This green tea (popular because it was one of the cheaper blends) came from the Chinese province of “TUAN KAY” (or “Tong-Ke” as it is sometimes called). It was the equivalent of calling his character “The Widow Ty-Phoo” or “The Widow Earl Grey” today!

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Stanley Baxter & John Inman

1861 J.H.Byron created the name “Widow Twankay”- she has no laundry still, but takes in “plain sewing”. She remained a “tailoress” throughout the next three decades.- in London that is. In 1885 she has a newspaper shop, and in 1891 she is still a tailoress.

Her name was also not firmly established- productions named her the “Widow Ching”, “Ching Ching” and even “Wee-Ping” (1881 Gaiety & 1885 at Sanger’s Theatre) a few odd exceptions include “Chow-Chow”and  “Tay-Kin” for example.

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John Inman & Martin Ballard

Outside of London Twankay had some success in the laundry- In Leeds in 1871 she has a wash-tub, in Sheffield she is “A Laundress eaten up with care” (1875) in Worcester in 1879 she does “washing, mangling and lodging for single men”- but she returns to London “In the wardrobe and laundry business” at the Grand Islington in 1889.- the same pantomime had “Wishee-Washee”- a family business was emerging!

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Nigel Ellacott at Hull

She is still however “Twankay” not “Twankey” as we now know her!

By the time Dan Leno played “Twankay” at Drury Lane in 1896 the Laundry scene was plainly established.Her name was also beginning to settle- “Twankay” at Hanley (1876) “Twanky” at Glasgow (1881) and Douglas on the Isle of Man had “TWANKEY” in 1871 and again at Sangers in London in 1874, in 1879 and Newcastle in 1885.


Byron’s version of  1861 established the “Dame” character as well as her name- before then the part had been played by women, but her costume was not always what we would expect. In the Victorian pantomime era one might have expected her to be dressed as an “English Char Woman”, but that tradition (now almost vanished in modern times) was broken almost immediately. Dressed in English style for Dan Leno in 1888, the character was dressed in Chinese style when next worn by Dan Leno in 1896, as she was dressed for Wilkie Bard (1909) and Stanley Lupino (1917).

Today we would expect Widow Twankey to be dressed in typical loud and often outrageous costumes, but with a concession to Chinese style- possibly with the enlarged Chinese collars, bobbles and frogging – and certainly we would expect her to have a “Laundry Costume” decorated with washing, washing lines and even soap powder boxes at some point.


The Brick Lane Gang at Breakfast!

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The Brick Lane Gang at Supper!

Tomorrow an Evening Show starting at 9pm.


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