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We knew a giant so It had to be Jack and the Beanstalk

Bruce Dugmore is 6ft 8 or so. You can see in the picture how he towers above all the other adults on the back line. He made a great giant. "Please Mr Giant are you a real giant?" asked one of the tiny ones (Suzy Cooper I think who is climbing off the stage at the bottom right. It all worked well and here you can see the usual suspects with Bruce towering over them all. This was the first year we had a pantomime animal the magic cow, you can just see it at the back.

The giant returns
Everyone will remember how impressive Bruce was as the giant and I think we were all a little in awe of him rather than afraid as he was so nice. A few years ago I applied for a job as a nurse in a local nursing home. As I walked in through the door I heard a thundering voice in the background which could just as easily have been saying, 'FEE FI FO FUM' as offering all the old ladies a cup of tea. Without even seeing his face, I was taken back 20 years or so and I said in a loud voice, 'It's the giant!!'. I was given a very odd look to say the least by the matron who knew nothing of his dark and distant past. Yes, it was Bruce. He didn't recognise me but we were soon laughing and reminiscing about the panto. He has an hilarious story to tell about two old ladies he nearly frightened to death late one night in the forest on the way home from a performance (in full costume) but I will leave him to tell the tale!
Joanna Gardner (In the middle holding the big whiskey bottle)
A dancing cow
I used to choreograph the ballet scenes for the early pantos. This was fine when it was just fairies, but for Jack and the Beanstalk, Nick wanted me to include a cow in the ballet, with the fairies. I seem to remember Joanna Appleby was the front half of the cow and I can see her friend in the picture who was the back end. We had a lot of laughs practising and trying to get the cow to dance around with the fairies to the music of Swan Lake.
Kate Tyrrell (who is on the top row at the left directly under the "Trusty" pig.)

Looks like Christine Saunders was the front half of the cow, her friend Jo Appleby is behind her on the left, she was the other half of the cow. I can't remember where we got the cow or if Jeanie or someone made it all from scratch. I loved that cow which appeared for many years as a horse , a cow, and the "Fearsome Cock-a-Doodle Moo" a weapon designed to end all wars by Baron Frankenstein in a later panto, a clone a horse a cow and a chicken produced by Baron Von Frankenstein to be the weapon that ended all wars in a later panto. The Baron explained:
"Just like a horse it carries you to war
But Cock-a-Doodle Moo gives much much more.
When Daylight comes, it crows to wake you up
And when your thirsty gives milk in a cup"

I suppose the "Cock-a-doodle Moo" was as successful at ending all wars as any other weapon has been.

Anyway I remember the dance Kate it was great Nick Mellersh. (who is with Jeanie on one side and Audrey Saunders on the other in the second row back by the pole)
See how Bruce Dugmore 6ft 7" towers over the cast - a real giant. "Hello Giant, are you a real giant?" asked one of the
young ones.

More about the giant
Yes, the giant was the star of the show, but the set was pretty good too. The beanstalk grew, (well, it was attached to string above the stage and was pulled up, but it was very effective). As usual Nick incorporated everyone in the panto, and this time it included Jack (Nibby) having 7 sisters. I was a sister along with 2 of the Payne girls, the Randalls, Emma Force and Jenny Gardner with Jo Gardner as our mother, (the panto dame). All 7 of us had lovely stripey skirts and black boleros. Once the beanstalk had grown we were all armed with giant runner beans and marched around the stage singing 'beans, beans, beans, beans". I think that Marcelle was a wicked witch in this one and my brother, Jonathan, was a naughty boy - along with a few others - in a school scene. They sang a version of the Smurf song "Where are you all coming from? We're from Minstead, on the run etc..." His costume was his old red pyjamas with stuck-on convict arrows.
Looking at this all-cast photo you can see what a happy time we were all having. But it's sad seeing Gavin Smeed there, he was helping Steve and Alan backstage, I don't think that my sister will mind now if I mention that she had a crush on him!

Sally Hayward (left of the front row with a stripey skirt)

Bruce Dugmore - The Giant

I was asked by my friend Nick Mellersh to play the part of the giant in the pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk at the Minstead Village Hall in 1980. The performance went on for a very long time as Nick seemed to have written parts for all the village children. After the show two elderly ladies we had taken with us insisted on being driven home immediately as it was well past their bedtime. I had no time to change and so, still dressed in my hugely padded Jack The Giant Killer's costume, with grotesque makeup, drove them across the New Forest in an old Volkswagen borrowed from my mother-in-law. It was a very misty night and in my rush to turn the unfamiliar car around after dropping off my passengers, I backed into the ditch - front wheels up in the air! In desperation I phoned a local farmer whose mother said that her son was returning imminently from a Young Farmer's Meeting and would be passing our gate, if flagged down he would pull me out of the ditch. I could see only headlights in the mist and so flagged down the first vehicle that came along; when the lady driver stopped and opened her window she let out a scream on seeing me and put her foot down on the accelerator; the second driver only slowed down enough to see me and she too sped off. Fortunately the next lights were our friendly farmer's Land Rover and I was soon out and on my way. I do wonder what stories the lady drivers told their friends of an encounter with a giant in the New Forest.

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