Panto time and a new panto villain

Saturday 24 November 2007

Christmas is undoubtedly the happiest time of the year for the West End Whingers. Phil gets his Winter Fuel Allowance which Andrew suspects goes mostly on gin down at Aldi.

Andrew, meanwhile, gets to spend many gleeful hours looking out for who’s appearing in what in pantoland.

The Independent is equally excited and runs a long feature about panto today in which it seems almost as excited as Andrew about the unlikely rag bag of celebrities, has-beens and”who?s” that are about to tread the boards:

After a successful panto debut as Hook in Peter Pan at Wimbledon last year, Henry Winkler, the former Fonz, is reprising the role at Woking (where, last year, the lucky punters got Patrick Duffy of Dallas and The Man From Atlantis fame as Baron Hardup in Cinderella). Paul Michael Glaser, the original Starsky, is losing his panto virginity, also playing Hook, at the Churchill in Bromley (Antonio Fargas, the original Huggy Bear, is practically a panto slut – this year he’s in Jack and the Beanstalk in Derby). Most startling of all, at the Sunderland Empire, Baron Hardup is to be played by the 87-year-old Mickey Rooney.

Mickey Rooney at the Sunderland Empire? Yes, it’s true.

Andrew’s personal highlights for this year include Britt Ekland at the Wyvern Theatre, Swindon and The Krankies at the Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton (left).

Thankfully all this research is much easier these days thanks to panto-specialist sites such as the excellent. It’s behind you. Sadly they’re a bit behind this year and don’t expect to get their Where Are They? 2007 page up until 7th December. When they do it will probably be here. It’s always worth a look

But despite all this happy news, not all is going so well in pantoland as you may have guessed from the title of the post.

According to the Lancashire Evening News:

Panto actor Paul Danan has been sacked from Preston’s panto after a foul mouthed tirade at the city’s Xmas light switch-on (Do they really have only one light in Preston?).


The ex-soap performer was forced to apologise and was slapped with an on-the-spot fine by police after swearing in front a 3,000-strong crowd which included hundreds of children on Wednesday night.

But on Thursday morning, producers of Jack and the Beanstalk said they were looking for a new actor to take the lead role of Jack.

Viv Wells, of Pele Productions, said: “He has been sacked, obviously because of what happened last night.

“We are a family-run business, I have three children of my own and our shows are for families and do not even have any innuendo in them.

“I did not have my kids with me last night, but I was left feeling sick because of what he has said in front of an audience of children and families.

The Whingers particularly love that bit about feeling sick. They know all about that.

Anyway, Paul Danan (who apparently used to be in Hollyoaks and Celebrity Love Island whatever they are) tried to make amends with a video apology in the Lancashire Evening Post but it was all to no avail and he’s now “resting” over Christmas.

What has frustrated the Whingers about the coverage of this Christmas tale is that the media has been very coy about the details of the incident. But thank heavens for the Internet. According to Holy Moly, Danan tried to inject some enthusiasm into the proceedings by screaming at the crowd: “Make some motherfucking noise, Preston!”

Storm in a teacup if you ask us.

6 Responses to “Panto time and a new panto villain”

  1. Personally, my big regrets this season will be that I can’t get to see David Essex’s Captain Hook at Northampton or Toady from “Neighbours” as Buttons in Sheffield.

  2. Webcowgirl Says:

    Mickey Rooney? Good lord, do they wheel him onstage in his chair?

    Me, I’m heartbroken that Summer Strallen won’t be doing any panto this year (at least as near as I can tell). She appears to have found a job on a soap opera. What a waste of talent!

  3. I’m looking forward to panto season – clearly we revolted too early to have been endowed with its graces. My tickets are already booked for the Old Vic, are there any others I should make it a point to get to? I’m thinking Stratford East, and possibly one of the anti-pantos at the Soho or Drill Hall.

  4. @ Webcowgirl – indeed, and what about the woman who didn’t win How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? Briony Something. She did panto last year.

    @ RZ. It is said that one should do the Hackney Empire panto. This year’s panto at the Barbican is written by Jonathan Harvey. Interesting. Mind you, last year’s was written by Mark Ravenhill and it was dire. You’ll just have to go and see them all.

  5. jmc Says:

    Enjoyed reading about Mr Danan’s exploits. Paul was in my play Desires of Frankenstein in Edinburgh, and myself, he & the rest of the cast shared a small flat for the duration of the run. Oh, the tales I could tell (chequebook journalists are welcome to ask) – it made the Big Brother house look positively sedate (if I’d been canny, I’d have broadcast the flatshare as a pay-to-view webcast. I am glad to see that he is even more naughtily behaved in Preston than he was in Bonnie Scotland.

  6. Sean Says:

    This is why I hate ‘the season of goodwill’! Hypocrisy, manufactured goodwill, avarice and wall to wall panto (all seem somehow linked…).

    The Preston theatre who sacked Danan have been quite pathetic, if they really had to fire him due to a whipped up moral outrage, fine, I understand commercial pressures and the hysteria of a sanctimonious minority. But the over the top statement by the production company was just an insult, and hyperbolic nonsense. Unfortunately children here that and much worse if not from their parents, then on the street, and it is never (or very rarely) challenged. Should we be up in arms about a minor actor swearing in public, or more concerned with taking responsibility as a society (many of us have sworn in public surely), and thinking about the wider issues. If Danan had been convicted, or even charged, with a criminal offence I can see how they could easily sack him (or make him stand aside until the charges were dropped or brought, effectively sacking in a short term panto contract), but is swearing a sackable offence (I suppose there is a cover all get out clause in theatrical contracts)?

    I was never taken to panto as a child, so I’m not in a nostalgic haze for it, but I can see that it is (but not always) great fun, and a wonderful way of getting kids into the theatre (let alone the adults, for whom this could be the only annual trip), bit I’m not a kid and want some good stuff to see over Christmas too.

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