The Palladium Pantomimes

We are very grateful for the help of Chris Woodward - archivist of The London Palladium Theatre Collection

Clarice Mayne as Dick WhittingtonThe London Palladium can trace its history back to 1870, when a hall known as The Corinthian Bazaar was erected on the site of the Duke of Argyll’s residence- the current Palladium stands on Argyll Street. Twelve years later the building was enlarged, and renamed Hengler’s Circus. Early pantomimes were produced there-Cinderella, Jack the Giant Killer and Red Riding Hood amongst others, but it was not until it became The London Palladium in 1910, that the building began a tradition of presenting top class Pantomimes. In 1914, for matinees only the Palladium presented Dick Whittington and his Cat for a few short weeks, starring Clarice Mayne and Harry Weldon.

The following year (1915) the Palladium presented Cinderella, following that with The House That Jack Built in 1916. After the end of the First World War the Palladium did not present another pantomime until 1922, with Aladdin. The next year Clarice Mayne and Nellie Wallace starred in Dick Whittington. In 1925 Clarice Mayne returned in Cinderella, with Charlie Austin, to be followed by Aladdin in 1926 and once again Cinderella in 1927.

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Cinderella at the Palladium - 1926

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After this period, the Palladium changed its policy, with George Black as Managing Director. The Palladium was to present different seasonal programmes.

It was not until the late 1940’s that the London Palladium established itself as the home of the most prestigious West End Pantomimes. Notable productions included “Humpty Dumpty” in 1951 with Norman Evans (Over the Garden Wall) and Terry Thomas, The 1953 production of “Cinderella” with Julie Andrews as “Cinders”, with Max Bygraves and Richard Hearne, and the 1954 “Mother Goose”, starring Peter Sellers, Richard Hearne (Mr Pastry) as Dame, and Max Bygraves. The script for this panto was written by Eric Sykes and Spike Milligan.

The 1956  “Aladdin” saw a break in tradition with Norman Wisdom cast in the role of Principal boy, launching an era that was to last for fifteen years. The role of “boy” was filled by stars such as Cliff Richard, Frank Ifield, Frankie Vaughan and Tommy Steele. It was not until Cilla Black played the role of “Aladdin” in 1970 that the balance was restored, and the Palladium returned to using male performers in the role from 1972 onwards, with a few exceptions- Marti Webb in 1987 for instance.

Other notable Pantomimes were the 1969 “Dick Whittington” with Tommy Steele, the 1972 “Cinderella” featuring Terry Scott and Julian Orchard as the Ugly Sisters, and the “Cinderella” featuring Dame Anna Neagle as Fairy Godmother, her last stage appearance, in 1985/6.

THE PANTOMIME LIST

Year Production Starring Click on image to enlarge
1948 Cinderella Tommy Trinder, Evelyn Laye and George & Bert Bernard

1949 Puss in Boots Tommy Trinder & Zoe Gail

1950 Babes in the Wood  Jewel & Warris, Eunice Gayson, Adele Dixon, Sonnie Hale, Herbert Hare
1951 Humpty Dumpty Norman Evans, Terry Thomas, Peggy Mount, Gillian Lynne, Noele Gordon
1952 Dick Whittington Frankie Howerd, Richard Hearne, Sonnie Hale, Warren Mitchell and Vanessa Lee.

1953 Cinderella

Max Bygraves, Julie Andrews, Richard Hearne, Adele Dixon, Jon Pertwee, Tony Simpson, Ted & George Durante, Joan Mann, David Dale, Cyril Wells, Elaine Garreau, Silvia Ashmole

 

Read the recollection of one of the Aida Foster Babes about this production

1954 Mother Goose  

Peter Sellers, Richard Hearne, Max Bygraves, Shirley Eaton, Margaret Burton

 

 

1955 No Pantomime The Revue “Painting the Town” starring Norman Wisdom & Ruby Murray  
1956 Aladdin Norman Wisdom, Sonnie Hale, Valentine Dyall, Ken Wilson, Stephanie Voss, David Davenport and Hope Jackman
1957 Robinson Crusoe Tommy Cooper, Arthur Askey, David Whitfield
1958 Sleeping Beauty Charlie Drake, Edmund Hockridge, Bruce Forsyth, Bernard Bresslaw
1959 Humpty Dumpty Harry Secombe, Roy Castle, Alfred Marks
1960 Dick Whittington Norman Wisdom, Yana, Billy Whittaker, Desmond Walter-Ellis, Dave Jackley & Tommy Locky, Eddie Leslie, Thelma Ruby, Ken Wilson, David Davenport and Sadie Corre.

1961 Little Old King Cole

Thanks to David Cavanagh for this information

Charlie Drake with Janette Scott, Jackie Ray, Gary Miller, Bert Brownbill, Billy Danvers, Roger Delgado, Sandra Michaels, Pamela Cundell & the Seven Volants

1962 Puss in Boots Frankie Vaughan, Joan Reagan, Jimmy Edwards, Mike & Bernie Winters, Dick Emery, Gillian Lynne

1963 No Pantomime  The Revue “Man in the Moon” starring Charlie Drake  
1964 Aladdin Cliff Richard (Aladdin); The Shadows (Bruce Welch, Hank Marvin, Brian Bennett & John Rostil as Wishee, Washee, Noshee, Poshee); Arthur Askey (Widow Twankey) ; Una Stubbs (Princess Balroubadour), Charlie Cairoli (Chief Inspector Bathrobe) , Alan Curtis (Abanazar), Wendy Barry (Genie of the Ring), Michael Henry (Grand Vizier), Billy Tasker (Town Crier), Paul King, Little Jimmy, Henry Lytton & Johnny Volant Five (Chinese Policemen), Joan Palethrope (So Shy), Audrey Bayley (Tai-Ping), Tom Chatto (Emperor of China), David Davenport (Slave of the Lamp)
1965 Babes in the Wood Frank Ifield, Arthur Askey, Sid James, Kenneth Connor and Roy Kinnear.

Elaine Paige and Sharon Osbourne (Arden) were part of the Aida Foster Children.

1966 Cinderella

Thanks to David Cavanagh for this information

 Cliff Richard starred as Buttons in "Cinderella" with The Shadows as Broker's Men, Terry Scott and Hugh Lloyd as Ugly Sisters, Peter Gilmore as The Prince, Tudor Davies as Dandini, Jack Douglas as Baron Hardup, Pippa Steele as Cinderella and speciality act The Adorable Tanya - a baby elephant!

Although not listed Sharon Osbourne (Arden) was part of the Aida Foster Children for this production.

1967 Robinson Crusoe Engelbert Humperdink, Arthur Askey, Jimmy Logan, Hope & Keen and Tricia Money 
1968 Jack and the Beanstalk  Jimmy Tarbuck, Arthur Askey, Jean Bayless and Ivor Emmanuel
1969 Dick Whittington Tommy Steele, Mary Hopkin, Billy Dainty, Kenneth Connor

Thanks to Pat Richmond for the handbill image.

It has recently come to light that David Essex was in the ensemble of this production and actually understudied Tommy Steele in the title role, performing the role on occasion.

1970 Aladdin Cilla Black, Leslie Crowther, Terry Scott, Alfred Marks
1971 Cinderella Ronnie Corbett, Terry Scott & Julian Orchard, Clodagh Rogers, The Patton Brothers
1972 Babes in the Wood  Edward Woodward, Adrienne Posta, Julian Orchard, Derek Nimmo, Rod Hull and Emu
1973 Jack and the Beanstalk Frankie Howerd, Dora Bryan, Mark Wynter, Alfie Bass, Calli, Michael Kilgarrif
1974 No Pantomime The Musical “Hans Christian Andersen” Starring Tommy Steele, Milo O’Shea, Lila Kaye  
1975 No Pantomime The Musical play “Peter Pan” starring Ron Moody as Captain Hook, and Lulu as Pan  
1976 Cinderella Richard O’Sullivan, Richard Hearne, Yootha Joyce, Brian Murphy, Gordon & Bunny Jay,  Fiona Fullerton, Robert Young 
1977 No Pantomime The Musical “Hans Christian Andersen” starring Tommy Steele, Anthony Valentine, Sally Ann Howes   
1978 Aladdin  Danny La Rue, Wayne Sleep, Wei Wei Wong
1979 No Pantomime The Musical “The King & I”  
1980 Dick Whittington

 

Jim Davidson, Mollie Sugden, Windsor Davies, Lionel Blair, Melvyn Hayes 

 

1981 No Pantomime The Musical “Barnum” starring Michael Crawford  
1982 No Pantomime Barnum continues until Feb 1983  
1983 No Pantomime The Musical “Singing in the Rain” Starring Tommy Steele, Roy Castle   
1984 No Pantomime Singing in the Rain continues until Oct 1985  
1985 Cinderella Des O’Connor, Dame Anna Neagle, Paul Nicholas, Hope & Keen, Lambert & Ross (as the ugly Sisters), Sarah Payne and John Junkin
1986 No Pantomime The Musical “La Cage aux Folles”  

1987

Babes in the Wood

Cannon & Ball, Marti Webb, Barbara Windsor, John Inman, Derek Griffiths, Cheryl Baker, Peter Howitt, Nicholas Smith, The Sanctus Troupe, Rod Hull & Emu

 

 

 The 1987/88 Pantomime was the last, to date, to play the Palladium. 

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The London Palladium: The Story of the Theatre and it's Stars by Chris Woodward (2009)

Published by Jeremy Mills Publishing   ISBN 978-1-906600-39-6


The glamour, the excitement, the riotous laughter, the beauty and the memories; Chris Woodward succeeds in capturing them all in his chronicle of the London Palladium over the century of its existence. He draws on the experiences and memories of the countless individuals who have played a part in its journey through the years, from those who experienced its heyday as the flagship theatre for Variety, when it played host to all the stars of the day, to the present time where it has evolved into a venue for hit musicals and popular television programmes. The author’s own vast collection of Palladium programmes and memorabilia helps to bring his account to life with stunning images.

 

For more information, read the attached information from the publisher. Also details of how to order direct from the publisher.

 

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This page was last updated 6th April 2014

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