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Left: The ‘hero’ looks worried. Debbie Boyd. Right: Kev Johns.
Images: Debbie Boyd, Kevin Johns

One December, I found myself at a pantomime with hundreds of giddy children and their parents. On stage, actors in big wigs and hats and gaudy costumes – with the occasional man decked out as a woman and a woman masquerading as a man – delivered saucy send-ups of fairy tales while bounding on and off stage, singing, and imploring the audience to respond. The audience giggled, clapped, shouted warnings, laughed and roared. A confidence man from the South Pacific, who recently spent some time in England, described the English as soft and gentle. Those were not adjectives I would use at this particular event. Sitting in that audience was like sitting in storm surf. I rather liked it.

Richard Wilson is on the right. Image: Richard Wilson Archive

The Times has just listed pantomimes and Christmas plays around Britain. Stephen Fry has written his first pantomime script. His version of Cinderella is playing at The Old Vic. The turbulent Christmas spirit is alive and well.