WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link

Michael Harrison on the new London lockdown: 'The government's approach is frankly appalling'

The producer is presenting Pantoland at the Palladium – which has forced to cut its run short

Elaine Paige in a former Palladium pantomime
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Michael Harrison, who has produced some of the biggest and most high-profile shows in the last decade, has called out the government's advice for businesses during the pandemic, labelling it "bordering on incompetent".

In a statement Harrison, who is currently producing Pantoland at the Palladium said:

"We are devastated by today's news that London will move to Tier 3, forcing the closure of Pantoland at The Palladium.

"We are deeply concerned about the economic impact of today's decision for businesses in the West End and believe that we have done everything possible to ensure a Covid-secure environment within The London Palladium for our audiences, following all advice from Government. Whilst the safety and health of our visitors, staff and performers is of extreme importance, the Government's yo-yoing approach on advice is frankly appalling. It is not possible for any business to function in an environment where our leaders seem to have simply no idea how our country will look from one week to the next. The advice is bordering on incompetent.

"Pantoland at The Palladium opened to rapturous standing ovations, and we saw a reaction from the audience like nothing we've experienced before – such was their delight to be back in the theatre seeing live performance. We were honoured to welcome Royal and Government guests at our special key worker performance on Friday. The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, saw for himself on Friday the rigorous safety measures in place at The London Palladium and I was thrilled to see him crying with laughter, it's just a shame my entire cast and Company are now crying because of the Government's decision to put London into Tier 2 just 12 days ago encouraging us all to press on with our productions only to realise that was in fact a mistake. One of many, many mistakes.

"Our partners at LW Theatres will be in touch with customers directly regarding refunds, and we ask for the audience's patience as we work through contacting the tens of thousands of customers who were looking forward to a magical visit to pantomime in the West End this Christmas."

Sign up for daily updates on the pandemic