UK panto stars: find a national treasure near you
Grading the UK’s panto stars from most to least festive
It’s 1 Dec and we know what that means: advent chocolate is the only thing worth getting up for, your bus driver is in full Santa gear, and there’s going to be an office argument about when the lights should go up. But, look. Don’t reach for last year’s bottle of Baileys just yet – there is still something to look forward to. (Oh yes there is.) Panto season is upon us.
One of Britain’s oddest institutions, panto has been around since the 14th century, more or less. Back then, it was a more civilised affair, featuring musicals, mime and spoken drama; these days we’re more concerned with men in dresses and celeb appearances.
Ah, the celebs. No longer are we content with that one guy from our town who got a non-speaking role in River City. These days everyone from Marti Pellow to the Hoff has a line in camping it up from December-January, indeed, panto is the place where stars of TV and music go when their career needs a wee boost and they haven’t been asked on I’m a Celebrity … We’ve had a quick check and, to make it easier on you, rounded up the best of worst of celeb guest stars: graded from most to least-festive.
Peter Pan at the SECC, Glasgow
Starring David Hasselhoff, The Krankies, Michelle McManus
What’s more festive than The Krankies? Add the Hoff into the mix and things are bound to get weird in the best of ways.
Aladdin at Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Starring Christopher Biggins, Simon Webbe (Blue)
It’s not Christmas without Britain’s best panto dame. It’ll be good to see Christopher Biggins too.
A-. There is nothin’ like a dame.
Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
Starring Allan Stewart, Andy Gray, Grant Stott
These stalwart Christmas faces always bring festive cheer. Bound to be a classic.
B+. Three wise men.
Aladdin at the Hippodrome, Birmingham
Starring Marti Pellow, Julian Clary, Lee Mead
We think they’ll rely on Clary to stop the show being too wet wet wet.
B. Christmas is all around us.
Jack & the Beanstalk at the Grand Theatre, Swansea
Starring Louie Spence
Spence is quite fun, too bad the others (Kevin Johns and Zoe George) aren’t as household as him
B-. Camp as Christmas.
Peter Pan at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton
Starring The Chuckle Brothers
The poster promises a ‘swashbuckling adventure’. At least the kids’ll probably enjoy it.
B-. To you.
Peter Pan at His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
Starring Elaine C Smith, Chico
Smith is always a good shout, but only go if you can be bothered with ‘It’s Chico Time’ running through your brain all the way home.
C. It’s not Chico time.
Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs at New Theatre, Hull
Starring Joe McElderry, Cannon & Ball
He’s the one who won The X Factor in 2009; they were on ITV in the 80s. So now you know.
C. Not going out.
Cinderella at the Lyceum, Crewe
Starring Gareth Gates, Ashley & Pudsey, Brendan (off Coach Trip)
If that dog doesn’t jump through a be-tinselled hoop we’re going to kick off.
C-. Britain’s got barrel scraping.
Jack & the Beanstalk at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
Starring John Challis, Lisa Riley
It’s 3D, so it’s got that going for it.
D. Only Yule and D-List