Five do a Pantomime

Sometimes things just go right. That's what I felt with Five do a Pantomime, anyway. It was huge fun to write and even more fun to stage. When I first suggestedthe idea of a Famous Five pantomime, I met with some reservations from the grown ups: they knew about Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy, but would their children understand? I think it came as a nasty shock to some parents to discover that their children DID know all about the popular Enid Blyton books; most had even read them. And the casting turned out perfectly. Who will forget John Simpson, in his white gym shoes, as the earnest Julian; poor Iain Cumming, who cast as Dick, found his lines consisted entirely of exclamations like 'Gosh!', 'Crikey!', 'I should say!' and 'Smashing!' and nothing else; Sophia Olorenshaw, sporting a huge curly brown wig and knee length shorts, as the headstrong tomboy George; and Martin Yeo, who had us in fits as the 'feeble girly', Anne, threatening to deck her annoying brothers and baffled by the constantly mutating dog, Timmy.

Lucie Ware played a scene stealing 'mysterious woman in black' (who was that woman!) with a wonderfully over the top French accent. It was the first year I played in the band - was challenging and more than a little undignified hitching a bulky black ball gown above my head to clamber up a step ladder to get backstage - thank goodness it was dark! Lucie

There were wonderful moments during the secret passage scene, where Julian, searching his pockets for something useful to help the Five out of a tricky situation, produced a series of increasingly bizarre objects (fed to him from offstage by his own father!), starting with the torches, notebooks and chocolate every self respecting Enid Blyton character carries around in his pockets, progressing to cricket bats, woolly scarves, cuddly toy and...some very skimpy ladies underwear. With true professionalism, John didn't turn a hair - well, Julian simply wouldn't get flustered, would he?
of my enduring memories of this show will always be Rosie McCulloch as the professor, 'daddy-dancing' to 'I need a Hero. Tears were rolling down our faces!

In the photo below, the Five have just discovered that dear old Uncle Quentin is actually the dreaded Phantom of the Pantomime!


=> No-one can say a panto career is complete without cross-dressing, so I guess I had to one year. For once all those jokes that we try to get running throughout the panto worked like a dream, it was a great idea for a pantomime. I've never quite been able to shake off the shadow on Anne even after three years, although it got a little better once we did The Lady of Shallot, it's still unfortunately one of those things that everyone has in their arsenal if they need to wind me up, but I think I like having something like that in my life! Love 'Anne' XX And you were very fetching too, my dear! Lx