Scarborough panto giant Qdos sets deadline for decision on whether its 34 shows will go ahead this Christmas

Scarborough-based  pantomime producer Qdos has set a deadline to decide whether its 34 shows across the country  can go ahead.

By Sue Wilkinson
Thursday, 2nd July 2020, 12:30 pm
Billy Pearce in Snow White at the Bradford Alhambra
Billy Pearce in Snow White at the Bradford Alhambra

The entire theatre industry is holding its breath on the fate of pantos and seasonal shows which are crucial to theatre earnings.

Cash made at Christmas keeps many venues going for 12 months but this Christmas could prove to be make or break for some theatres' futures.

Monday August 3 is D-Day for Qdos Christmas favourites from Aberdeen to York, where Berwick Kaler was due to appear in a Qdos panto for the first time.

Sign up to our daily The Scarborough News Today newsletter

Qdos chairman is Nick Thomas, who lives in Scarborough, and his company puts on some of the biggest and best pantomimes, starring some of our biggest stars, in the country. It also has a prop warehouse in the town.

Its managing director Michael Harrison told the BBC there could be "a lot of redundancies" in regional theatres if Aladdin, Snow White and Dick Whittington fall victim to live entertainment's extended coronavirus lockdown. Many places can reopen from Saturday July 4 and though this includes theatres, live performances are still banned.

"If Christmas is cancelled - or if pantomime is cancelled - then the theatres will be left with no choice," he said.

"And I'm afraid that if it gets to August 3 and we haven't got clarity from the Government, we will then have to begin the process of unravelling the season."

He wants an official date for the theatres to reopen, but said pantos will only be able to go ahead if social distancing is put behind us.

"Commercial theatre can't operate on anything less than 100 per cent capacity. It's no good saying you can sell every other row," he said.

"How can you social distance actors on stage? How can you social distance dancers who have to touch each other? How do you social distance somebody who has to do a quick costume change? There's all of those things to take into consideration.

"We can adapt if we have some clarity about what the position might be. But we do need to know in advance to set those ideas and plans in motion."

Its planned pantos include Billy Pearce in Sleeping Beauty at the Bradford Alhambra; John Barrowman in Snow White at the Bristol Hippodrome; Craig Revel Horwood and Debbie McGee at the Mayflower, Southampton and Shane Richie in Dick Whittington at the New Wimbledon Theatre.

The Scarborough Spa, Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough and the Bridlington Spa have yet to announce their panto plans.

The YMCA in Scarborough and Whitby Pavilion usually hosts an amateur pantomime productions. Neither have confirmed plans.

A message from the editor

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the highest standards in the world.

The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers and consequently the advertising that we receive.

We are now more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news by buying a copy of our newspaper.

Thank you