Why the Darlington pantomime is the fairest in all the land

A Darlington pantomime regular puts the case across for why his local pantomime is better than all

Liam Mellor, Zoe Birkett, Lee Ryan and Eric Potts
Liam Mellor, Zoe Birkett, Lee Ryan and Eric Potts star in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Darlington Hippodrome
© Stuart Boulton

Our new Christmas blog series gives audiences the chance to rave about their own pantomime. Here, Darlington regular Peter Baron explains why he thinks there's no other place to get your pantomime fix this festive season than at his local, which this year is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs starring Lee Ryan and Zoe Birkett.

The first panto that I recall seeing was Cinderella at the London Palladium during one of our Christmas trips to the capital. I absolutely loved it. It was part of the magic of Christmas.

Going to London itself was amazing for a kid from a council estate in Middlesbrough but then going to the Palladium and seeing a panto was beyond my wildest dreams. I can’t remember the entire cast but I remember that Des O’Connor was Buttons and he just kept getting a fit of the giggles. The laughter was utterly infectious.

My favourite pantomime was Aladdin at Darlington Civic Theatre in 2013. I am a huge fan of the Chuckle Brothers and loved them in it. They made me laugh until my sides ached. We had them as guest editors of the Christmas Eve edition of The Northern Echo and it is one of my fondest memories of being the paper’s editor. They were brilliant. I also loved The Grumbleweeds at Darlington Civic Theatre a few years back. They came up with my favourite joke of all time:

One Grumbleweed said to another: "Do you take drugs?"
Another Grumbleweed replied: "Yes, Viagra."
"Can you get it over the counter?" he was asked.
"I can if I take two," came the reply.

Peter Baron
Peter Baron

I think I broke a rib laughing. I may have wet myself slightly.

What I love about pantomime is the sheer silliness and the fact that it’s even better if something goes wrong. It crosses the divide between childhood and adulthood. Grown-ups get the chance to be kids again and that’s good for the soul. I think anything that brings families together and makes them happy is important. Panto is the perfect example of that. It’s as much fun looking around the theatre at all the smiling faces as watching the action on stage.

Pantomime is a family tradition for me and something that we’ve always enjoyed together. If anyone wants to come with us, feel free to tag along! Who needs kids?

Visit our Christmas and pantomime page for all your festive needs