Biggins Panto at the Gold King Theatre

Christopher Biggins

Hello and welcome to this wonderful old theatre in the lovely town of (insert name of town - assume this will be done by management?)

Christopher Biggins - King of the Jungle

Most of you will know me as Biggins - King of the Jungle, but I hope to show you over the next three and a half hours (I will NOT cut those numbers) that I am also Biggins - King of the Panto - or Queen of the Panto if I'm playing Dame.

Having written, directed, produced and starred in over 50 productions, I know what a joy a Pantomime can bring to children of all ages and abilities - we even have shows which are audio-described for blind kids (these are 15th and 17th December at 1pm in case you want to avoid them. It's pure Bedlam to be honest but we're made to do it).

So what is Pantomime?

A few songs strung together with some tired old slapstick and outdated topical references by men in dresses? Mainly yes. But they also hark back to more innocent times when children could fly, baddies were punished and the Management didn't bully you into having Big Brother contestants as your 'Brokers Men' (What's wrong with a couple of pros? I've seen the Krankies stop a show with an amazing fruit and veg routine. Hysterical)

Anyway, prepare to be transported - (except if you need wheelchair access, the ramp got warped in the floods by all accounts) to a magical land where apples are bad for you and mirrors tell the truth - so if you're a vain vegeterian you're in for a rocky ride! But the rest of you - young or old, rich or poor - sit back, relax and enjoy this year's Biggins Specs - Tacular (some of you may remember I used to wear big red glasses... I'm still waiting for the "should have gone to SpecSavers" ads to come knocking... what are they waiting for?)

Notes for teachers

Pantomimes are about audience participation but there are levels. If Little Johnny or Jennie want to wave Glow Sticks (£4.99 from the foyer and every single entrance to the auditorium) then that's fine, but cigarette lighters, water pistols, rolled up newspapers and - I kid you not - tampons(!) are all big no-no's.

Prohibited items : Cigarrette lighters, water pistols, rolled up newspapers and tampos

Secondly, there are six toilets in the theatre building, please try and use one of them before the show begins, especially if your child is what we call 'a sprinkler'. We spend more on Dettol every year then we do on Dwarves. Finally, we are happy to name-check schools and party bookings during the Song Sheet, but please give the name of the school ONLY, not every single child in the class. I'm not doing the register and I can't keep my driver waiting as his wife's got IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). So think on.

Cast Biographies

Click on photos to read more…

Debbie Hart in panto costume

Debbie Hart (Snow White)

Debbie was born in Yeovil and trained at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, where she was a mature student at the age of 24.

Debbie actually trained as a dancer and is amazed that she has had any kind of acting career! Theatre includes: Summertime Special, The Nutcracker (national tour – old people’s homes really), Goldilocks in Goldilocks (Spain), Shipshape and Bristol Fashion (Edinburgh – The Underbelly). After a long lean spell in which she did telesales with Ian Lavender (before ‘Enders), Debbie spent weeks visiting casting agents on her knees, until one of them finally tossed something her way. The role of Chrissy in the BBC3 sitcom Stinkfinger launched her into the big time, with a role in Spooks: Code 9 (Anxious Blonde), a photoshoot for Zoo magazine and the launch of her own perfume, Smells Like Debbie. Debbie has loved doing her first panto and wants to thank Chris, Mum and Dad, Nana Hart and Granny Kebble for all their stories, her African snails, hairdresser David and children everywhere! Oh, and the dwarves.

Christopher Biggins in panto costume

Christopher Biggins (Prince Charming)

Where to Biggin? Biggins is a national institution. He is best known as a classically trained actor and starred in such greats as I, Claudius, Porridge and On Safari. The latter doesn't get repeated now (kid's shows never do) but the residuals on Porridge keep him in Bucks Fizz and I, Claudius has been released on DVD, so that should add up to something. It was repeated on BBC4 of course, but BBC4 didn’t even exist when we signed the contracts so how can you legislate? You can’t. I sent an email to John Hurt asking if he’d had anything but he never replied. Too busy making films probably. Well I was in Rocky Horror, and that never stops being repeated so I’m fine thank you very much. And then there was the whole King of the Jungle or whatever it was called, and that came just at the right time because before then I couldn't even get onto Loose Women! The book was released last Autumn and should be in paperback by now. I get 66p per copy sold excluding Channel Islands, so all those of you using Amazon Jersey can you please reorder. Thank you.

Brian MacMillan in panto costume

Brian MacMillan (Evil Queen)

Brian was born in Perth, Scotland and trained at Webber Douglas and Le Coq in Paris.

He spent five years developing his own drag show in Hamburg (All Tartan No Knickers). Brian was dismayed to return to his native Scotland to find Tina C and Dead Marilyn crawling all over the Edinburgh Fringe. With his act. Undeterred, Brian took roles in Taggart (Tranny Annie), Still Game (Chick with a Dick) and Monarch of the Glen (Aunt Cecilia). It was during a tour of Rocky Horror that he first met Biggins – and the Panto Dame loomed large. To date he has given five Mother Geese, four Wicked Queens, three Widow Twankys, Two Ugly Sisters and a partridge in a pear tree. He lives alone.

Kerry Cushing in panto costume

Kerry Cushing (Sniffly)

Kerry was born in Nantwich, Cheshire.

Theatre includes Masha in The Three Sisters, Nurse in Romeo and Juliet and Hermia in A Midsummer's Night's Dream (Rose Bruford); Dormouse/first cover Alice in Alice in Wonderland (Lancaster); Ladybird in The Grassland Adventure (Greenwich Park); Salad Days (Regent’s Park Theatre); DiS'aBILLity for Wheels in Motion Theatre Company (national tour). Various radio plays for BBC Radio World Service. Television includes: 10th Kingdom and The Big Breakfast.

Kevin Gyles in panto costume

William Gentle (Prof)

William has had a long and varied career in pantomines. Television: 10th Kingdom.

Robert Greenspan in panto costume

Robert Greenspan (Blusher)

Robert was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon so acting has always been in his blood. He first acted as Roo in Christopher Robin and Friends at St. John’s Primary and was an instant hit. Training: Rose Bruford College.

Other theatre includes Blushful in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Bristol, Colston Hall, 1997); Bashfully in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Wolverhampton Civic Hall - 1998); Shyly in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Northampton New Theatre - 1999); Redface in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Heaxagon Theatre, Reading - 2000) and Timiddy in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Cambridge Corn Exchange - 2008). He also played Jacob in the Ravenhill Players production of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat in 2007. Television includes 10th Kingdom. For more about Robert visit www.robertgreenspan.co.uk.

William Gentle in panto costume

Kevin Gyles (Snoozy)

Kevin is well known to the Eastbourne theatre-going public, having run his own seafood stall (Willie’s Winkles) on the pier for over 12 years.

A child-star with no formal training, Kevin was a regular on HR Pufnstuf for 4 seasons before Jack Wild’s face shrank and filming had to be cancelled. Kevin likes playing Snoozy as it’s the only gig where he’s actually paid to sleep on the job! He lives with his partner and two cats (Peters and Lee). Other television includes 10th Kingdom (Sky One).

'Big' Sid Harris in panto costume

'Big' Sid Harris (Smiler)

Sid is known to all the little guys in the acting world as ‘the 7th Time Bandit’.

His role as Wisps was entirely cut from the film by Terry Gilliam. It is rumoured that David Rappaport felt that he was being upstaged by Sid and ordered his role to be edited out, though I can’t prove it. Rappaport went on to ‘star’ in Tiswas and then commit suicide – perhaps he couldn’t live with the guilt of what he’d done to ‘Big’ Sid. We’ll never know. ‘Big’ Sid runs his own dwarf tossing company (One Small Leap) and is available for children’s parties and personal appearances. He’d love to do an advert. Television includes 10th Kingdom.

Charlie Hyde-White in panto costume

Charlie Hyde-White (Loopy)

Born: Port Talbot, Wales. Trained: RADA. Charlie is best known as robot ‘Twiki’ in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (biddi-biddi).

Other roles include Ewok 16 in Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi, Bobbin Halfshanks in Willow, Shadow in The Dark Crystal, Gibbo in Labyrinth, Cave Dweller in Never-Ending Story, Baby 9 in The Brood and George in Rainbow (Far East tour). TV: 10th Kingdom.

Mike Jeffries in panto costume

Mike Jeffries (Grumbly)

Mike was reluctanly born into a family that didn’t want him and so has no clue as to his actual place of birth.

He was brought up in the glamorous North East where he struggled in various menial jobs. Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy - you name it, I’ve been sacked from it. Mike fell into acting when one of his friends was appearing in a production of Snow White (what else?) and one of the cast got shingles (and yes, they made me wear the same costume). From that point I’ve been typecast as Gumbly and I have to make do with that. This is my 4th Biggins. TV: 10th Kingdom.

Trevor Pritchard in panto costume

Trevor Pritchard - Woodsman

Trevor trained at RSMAD in the early 70s, where his Bottom was spotted by Peter Brook as he was preparing his famous 'Dream'.

He has graced the stages of several provincial reps (Musselburgh, Derby, Salisbury, Cov etc) and has bared all in the West End in the musical 'Hair!'. That experience led to finding out certain things about a certain C. Biggins Esq. which have guaranteed him a role in panto for the past 20 years (and the next 20, eh Chris!). Trevor is also the face of Pedicil, a preparation to treat athlete's foot.

Mike Jeffries in panto costume

Joanne Dunderdale (Understudy)

Joanne is delighted to be performing in her first professional engagement.

Although she has not worked before she has been advised by colleagues to pad out her biography so it doesn’t look like she’s the one who hasn't done much when you glance at it. This is what she is doing now. Hope you are enjoying reading it. This is probably enough now.