The Customs House
South Shields

With its “we never take ourselves seriously” attitude, the Customs House production of Dick Whittington ticks all the boxes again for the little panto with the big heart.

It’s not glamorous but it is humorous, it’s not full of the latest special effects but who needs ‘em, it’s “proper” panto with plenty of sing-a-longs, “he’s behind you’s” and innuendos to keep the young and the old happy.

Does it matter that what little plot there is doesn’t make a great deal of sense? Not really. Dame Dotty (Bob Stott) and Tommy (Ray Spencer) causing chaos and cracking jokes are what we came for. The undercurrent of a plot trundles on with Dick Whittington being framed by King Rat (yes, that’s right, King Rat) for stealing from Alderman Fitzwarren (Graham Overton) and has to clear his name to win the girl of his dreams, Alice Fitzwarren (Alice Stokoe).

The curtain falls this season for Bob Stott’s legendary Dame Dotty, as he prepares to put his feet up after 40 years. It seems a fitting time as the customary format needs a shake up to bring back the panto sparkle that seems missing this year.

We’re promised three dames in Cinderella next year, but will that be enough boots to fill Stott’s mighty shoes, we’ll have to wait and find out.