Although the British Board of Film Censors is a non-Governmental organisation, appointed by the film industry itself, it appears to bask in a glow of complacency which renders it at once unassailable, unapproachable, and uncooperative. It seems to enjoy an atmosphere of sacrosanctity and prerogative almost as strong as that which the Lord Chamberlain’s office in its function as Censor of Plays. Both are, it seems, outside the law; there is no court of appeal; what they say goes.
Panto has been a unique feature of the British Christmas season for centuries – even when Britain was at War – until the Covid 19 pandemic forced theatres to close their doors. A few months ago hundreds of protesters – including about half-a-dozen pantomime dames – gathered in Westminster to protest against the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although you can’t see a performance in person, Peter Duncan has responded to the lack of pantomimes around this Christmas in British theatres by filming a production of Jack And The Beanstalk.
To get in the mood, this feature by Lesley Blanch, originally published in British Vogue in December 1943, brings alive the joyful fun and fantasy of this very British tradition.
It’s always On the Road to the Middle of Next Week: unless it’s Nowhere in Particular, with Past Events casting their Shadows before. It’s the Enchanted Cavern, the Flying Palace, the Wicked Wood, the Widow Twankey’s Kitchen, or the Fairies’ Home in the Heart of the Rose . . . It’s the Pork-Butcher’s Shop, It’s the Magic Transformation Scene, It’s the Harlequinade — in short, it’s the Christmas Pantomime.Continue reading “Feature | Panto, December 1943”