Bumper season for panto firm

Lynda Bellingham
Lynda Bellingham

A SCARBOROUGH-based entertainment company is preparing for another bumper pantomime season.

This weekend the last of Qdos Entertainment’s 23 pantomimes will open, marking another busy Christmas season for the Scarborough-based theatrical giant.

The 2011/12 Qdos pantomime season features celebrities such as Brian Conley, John Barrowman, Lynda Bellingham, who starred in the week-long production of Calendar Girls at the Futurist in September, Shane Richie, Joe Pasquale, Christopher Biggins, Nigel Havers, Craig Revel Horwood, Jimmy Osmond – and ex-MP Ann Widdecombe.

Nick Thomas, Chairman of Qdos Entertainment, said:“Over £18 million worth of tickets have already been sold which is on a par with last year.

“By the time the season closes in February more than 1.5 million people will have seen a pantomime staged by Qdos Entertainment.

“Pantomime is as much a part of the Festive season as turkey and tinsel and is one of the few occasions in the year when families can be entertained together which is one of the reasons why ticket sales remain buoyant against a background of a difficult economy.”

He added: “We are also delighted to continue our support of Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Children’s Charity during this pantomime season. Last year, through bucket collections, pantomime audiences helped us raise nearly £100,000 for the hospital which treats sick children from around the UK.”

It takes more than 1,000 people, including actors, dancers, musicians and technical staff to create and mount a Qdos Entertainment pantomime season which doesn’t end until February.

Over the past few weeks more than 50,000 costumes and props, and 80 lorries packed with sets and scenery, have left Qdos’ Scarborough and Beverley sites and headed to the four corners of the UK.

The 23 theatres, including six that are operated all year round by Qdos Entertainment’s Theatres Division - HQ Theatres, are situated across the country from Aberdeen to Plymouth.

A number of the theatres have already exceeded £1 million in ticket sales - Cinderella at Birmingham Hippodrome, Jack and the Beanstalk at Belfast’s Grand Opera House, Robin Hood at Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre; Cinderella at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre, Sleeping Beauty at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal and Aladdin at Southend Cliff’s Pavilion.

Qdos Entertainment was set up in 1982 and originally named Nick Thomas Enterprises, to produce The Keith Harris Summer Show at Scarborough’s Royal Opera House and a panto starring Jimmy Cricket in Preston.

The firm moved to its current Queen Margaret’s Road headquarters in 1986, and changed its name to Qdos Entertainment in 1999.

Today Qdos Entertainment employs 70 staff in Scarborough and Beverley and a further 800 at its theatres, restaurants and entertainment agencies.