At Christmas time there is a tradition in Britain of going, as a family, to the a variety show...a musical...or most typically to a pantomime. The british pantomime must have a hero, a pretty girl, a villain, a fairy godmother and most importantly a pantomime dame - who holds the whole show together. Here is a selection of some of the dames from the Archives...........

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GS Melvin Drury Lane 1

G S Melvin, great Scottish comedian played Dame in many Pantomimes - above Babes In The Wood televised live from Drudy Lane in 1938/9. No clips survive from this show, so here is an earlier example.

George Spencer Melvin jacktrippdame

Jack Tripp appeared in at least 35 pantomimes wearing the most elaborate costumes. The Stage once described him as "the John Gielgud of pantomime dames".

Jack Tripp George Lacy

George Lacey was a renowned pantomime dame and was to play the role 60 times in Britain’s theatres, the last time at the Kings Southsea in 1984 when he was 80

George Lacy clarkson rose

John Inman who saw Clarkson Rose in panto, said "He was a very grand dame, he was a big man. His dames were very posh, very grand - very masculine but very grand."

Clarkson Rose

In the 1920s Douglas Bing took to pantomime, playing the Grand Vizier in Aladdin at the London Palladium in 1921, and in 1924 creating the first of his many pantomime dames as Eliza in Dick Whittington and His Cat

douglas bing Douglas Byng next