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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Bit of a pantomime lacks the class of its setting

A FILM shoot tends to be the talk of the town.

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COMEDY DRAMA: Sheridan Smith and John Bishop in Panto!

By Gareth Jones

And when some of the UK’s most recognisable actors descended on Ulverston, they certainly did not go unnoticed.

Last month, comedian John Bishop was joined at the Coronation Hall by Gavin and Stacey’s Sheridan Smith for the filming of Panto!

The one-off Christmas special aired on ITV1 on Thursday night, with residents able to spot the town’s iconic hall throughout the 90-minute show.

The comedy drama film, co-written by Bishop, follows the cast of a pantomime performance of Dick Whittington as they prepare for the opening night.

Although the action is set in the Lancaster Grand Theatre, the Coronation Hall fills in as the building’s exterior – and local shops even had their windows adorned with tinsel courtesy of ITV.

The Coro featured heavily throughout the show, making its first appearance when a fire alarm goes off when the stars of the panto are rehearsing.

The show focused on Bishop’s character Lewis Loud’s dilemma in balancing his relationship with Tamsin (Smith) while preparing for the Christmas show and caring for his 12-year-old son Paul who turns up out of the blue.

It aimed to recreate the atmosphere of an old fashioned pantomime.

The One and Only singer Chesney Hawkes cut an annoying figure as an extra and musical renditions of Madonna and Dolly Parton songs were tough on the ears.

The normally likeable Smith spoke in a Dick Van Dyke-style cockney accent, and despite Panto! being billed as a comedy-drama the film didn’t really raise any emotions in me.

Bishop was easy to relate to and played a family man who the audience could sympathise with.

The show came to an end with the inevitable opening night crisis which is averted when a dwarf actor and second lady Chantelle step in to save the day.

Panto! was slightly slapstick and failed in creating the magic of a Christmas trip to the theatre. All in all the show failed to recreate the class of its Ulverston setting.

GARETH JONES

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