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Filth and frivolity - Saturday afternoon at the London Palladium

This is slightly convoluted but bear with me.

This time last year we were due to see ‘Dick Whittington’ starring Julian Clary at the London Palladium.

The production got great reviews but we couldn’t go because there was a mix up over dates and instead of going to the Palladium as planned we had to take our daughter to Gatwick to catch a flight to America.

Instead we gave our tickets to my godson, a budding actor and writer.

This year, in what I can only describe as a remarkable coincidence, my godson played the title role in ‘Dick Whittington’ alongside former EastEnders actor Todd Carty in Middlesbrough.

Meanwhile, back in London, we finally made it to the Palladium where we saw ‘Snow White’ starring ... Julian Clary.

I won’t tell you how much I paid for the tickets (it was a small fortune) but coming out of the theatre yesterday afternoon we didn’t begrudge a penny. Stellar cast, fantastic staging, enormous fun.

Not convinced? I don’t blame you. I’m generally not a huge fan of pantomime either but suspend disbelief for one moment and read what one American critic thought of the show:

Each year, we schlep to super malls and force crying children to pose with creeper Santas. We trudge to local productions of ‘The Nutcracker’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’ that are as stiff as Dickens’ cadaver.

And here in New York, a family of five will spend as much as $800 to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, an annual event featuring the Rockettes that’s more of a checklist item than a jolly time.

But Britain has been doing Christmas right for centuries - with booze, laughs and riotous irreverence. They perform pantomimes.

I recently saw my first, ‘Snow White’ at the London Palladium, and was pleasantly shocked. The family show was raunchy, star-studded, filthy, extravagant, naughty, dazzling, double-entendre-stuffed, heartwarming. Did I love it? Oh, yes I did!

The panto was jam-packed, but when I left in that mob of humanity I was overjoyed at what I’d just seen. Returning to work two days later, blocks away from Rockefeller Center, I encountered a different crowd, brutishly shoving each other to be closest to the Christmas tree from ‘Home Alone 2’. I decided then and there that I prefer my conifers with a smutty comedian’s head in them.

See This British holiday tradition kicks America’s Yuletide ass (New York Post).

As for my godson, following his appearance in ‘Dick Whittington’ at the Middlesbrough Theatre, he has returned to London to work on a musical for which he has co-written the book and lyrics.

Inspired by the Cereal Killer Café and the Shoreditch riots of 2015, ‘The Cereal Cafe’ has a short workshop run at The Other Palace in London next month. For details click here.

Then again, if you’re more interested in filth and innuendo, there’s always ...

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