Christmas usually contains so many things, but the ever present has to be pantomime and over the years television has managed to tell these tales in so many different ways. Whether for children or all the family, it was pretty much what you could see in any theater over the festive season.
But good old television loves to do something special and it turns out the idea to such a length meaning the tights and dresses are donned by people usually to be found delivering us serious news all through the year. With one whiff of a mince pie and they are turned into hoofers who can hold their own with any of showbiz's royalty. Which leads us to Westward Television in 1981, on the 31st of December the company itself would disappear from screens but were they to leave a mark before they did. A whole twenty five minutes from the South West's finest lead to well know tales to be mixed upto into one panto, meaning Scrooge (played by Stuart Hutchison) met with Tweedledum and Tweedledee (both played by Peter Forde and Chris Fear respectively).
Though if its the South West, then Judy Spiers is never that far behind at all. With Ms Spiers playing a Rag Doll, it seems Roger Shaw played to type though, the Chief Station announcer played a station announcer. Hopefully, he was dressed in a railway workers uniform, to least add that more surrealism. Not bad for a Christmas Eve at all, I think.
Hold on though, if Westward was offering their take on panto. then how about a review of the year via the medium of pantomime? Well, the Nationwide team thought this was worthy of an edition on the 19th of December 1977. So Sue Lawley dressed as Dorothy to take the Yellow Brick Road with help from Bob Wellings and Denis Healey. Yes, the Chancellor of the Exchequer appeared as the Wizard of Oz, though this became a regular thing for a couple of years but of course when David Dimbleby arrived all that type of stuff stopped. Quite right too, Mr Dimbleby as the Genie of the Lamp? No, I can't picture it either.
Local news always loves a bit of thigh slapping action and as far as these two things combined, that Fern Britton was part of the cast during a 1988 performance of Cinderella at the Mayflower Theater taking the title role allowing her to read the news on TVS' Coast to Coast and then do a performance of the panto in the evening. Thus with that, the whole thing was turned into a story for the programme, though with Fern's theatrical background she could take to it like it was her day job.
So just when you think its safe to switch on your television at Christmas, there might be a panto lurking there and feel safe that the One Show hasn't thought of that idea as of yet...