Pig in Boots!
… And there’s absolutely no business like show business. Oink!’s very own show biz editor has been digging and delving and getting to grips with the ups and downs and the ins and outs of what’s been happening - and why - in Panto and around “the biz”. Here he is! Hammond Egg!
Oh, No It Doesn’t! Oh, Yes It Does!!
TV One thing you can always depend on at Christmas is – no, it’s not snow, or even everyone snoozing off after a gargantuan, festive lunch – it’s pantomime: that extraordinary, British theatrical concoction of political incorrectness gone completely nuts!
And yet, and yet – it’s terrific fun for everyone, in pantomime. You’re going. I’m going. Oh, yes we are!! And that’s just as well, because, apart from the pleasure it gives us all (although some people won’t admit it), pantomime does something else that’s very important: it offers actors and musicians all around the country the opportunity to work. With most actors out of work at any time, according to industry sources, pantomime is an indispensable source of income for most thesps (short for thespians, a posh word for actors) who spend most of their time doing other jobs, rather than the one they love and have spent years and years training for. Crazy or what? The minimum wage earned by an actor working in a stage production is £400 a week in London and £350 in the ‘provinces’ (that’s anywhere outside of London. Of course, zome actors earn big money in West End shows and television, film and commercials are good earners, too, though jobs are difficult to get and the competition is fierce. If you ever thought the X Factor was tough, that’s nothing to an audition for, say, a part in the dancing chorus of a West End musical.
The Cost of Panto
What does it cost to put on a panto? OINK! has learned it can be anywhere from tens of thousands of pounds for a local town rep theatre production to hundreds of thousands for a major theatre production, like Robinson Crusoe at the Birmingham Hippodrome, starring Brian Conley. OK, so that’s actors and musicians in panto, but we also see a whole mix of other people wafting in and out of panto. What’s all that about? Bums on seats is the answer. Anne Widdecombe, the ex MP and “Strictly” winner is appearing in High Wycombe and David Hasselhof, who’s done more judging than acting recently, but is still fantastically popular, is up in Manchester. Why? Because they are what is called in theatre-speak ‘good box office’. That is, the producers who put on the shows know people will pay to see them.
What’s great about panto is that everything turns out OK in the end, everybody’s happy, except the baddies – Boo! Hiss! (we love ‘em, don’t we?) and we all have a jolly good, magical time. And now, everyone, in true panto style – “poof!” (smoke, flash of light) the Queen of Dames has just turned into Sarah The Cook. Yes, Christopher Biggins, who has starred in more pantos as ‘Dame’ than Ed. Pig’s had hot sausages, is more popular than ever and starring in this years rip roarious panto at the Theatre Royal Plymouth. Aided and abetted by Basil Brush, no less, this is a must must see. Oh, yes it is! Oh… you know the rest!