Panto stars Julian Clary and Matt Slack get behind The Big Give Christmas challenge at Birmingham Hippodrome – oh yes they do!

Over the last two years we have been lucky enough to be accepted into The Big Give Christmas Challenge.   This is a great opportunity for members of the public who wish to donate to have their money doubled by The Big Give.

'Aladdin' - The Birmingham Hippodrome, 25th September 2015. Julian Clary and Matt Slack. Picture by Simon Hadley 07774 193699

Julian Clary and Matt Slack get behind The Big Give Christmas Challenge

Last year £12,000 was raised through the scheme towards our Relaxed Performance of pantomime and we thank everyone once again for their generosity.  It meant we could welcome over 1,000 theatre-goers with complex disabilities to experience our  popular pantomime in a relaxed environment.

So this week we are particularly delighted to announce that we have been accepted into The Big Give Christmas Challenge for the third year running.

This year we are raising money towards our Hippodrome Heritage Project.  We currently have professional archivists working with a talented group of 30 volunteers to help research and archive the history of this much loved theatre so that we leave a legacy for future generations to enjoy.    And we will be able to get our collection online and in touch tables situated in the foyers so everyone in the community has access.

We have such an amazing heritage and over the years  have welcomed the biggest star names in the world of showbiz including Frank Sinatra, Danny Kaye, Ken Dodd, Judy Garland, The Beatles and more.

You can find out more about the project in our latest Heritage Podcast presented by Heart FM’s Ed James.

If you are interested in helping to preserve over 100 years of our rich heritage then please save 4 & 5 December  in  your diary.

You can only donate on these two days and from 12 noon only but you have to be quick.   If you are lucky to get through your donation will be doubled by The Big Give.  Donations can be from as little as £1 to £1,000 plus.

We’ll be posting more blogs about The Big Give over the coming months so do keep following.   And keep in touch with our podcasts as Ed  delves more into our heritage  including fascinating interviews with one of our pantomime Dames and the great grandson of Henry Draysey who built the original theatre back in 1899!  #BHheritage

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Julian Clary and Matt Slack launch our pantomime Aladdin – oh yes they do!


Today we welcomed our pantomime stars Julian Clary (Slave of the Ring)  and Matt Slack (Wishee Washee)  for a busy day of media interviews and photographs ahead of the opening of the spectacular new production of Aladdin.

Aladdin  producer and director Michael Harrison, who was also at the media day said “You can’t beat a pantomime at Birmingham Hippodrome – it’s the home of the UK panto, it’s such an intimate setting and our panto stars love it.”

Aladdin is a brand new production with new sets, costumes and breathtaking special effects including a magic flying carpet and stunning 3D.

Julian and Matt, in full pantomime costume posed for photographs for a large group of photographers and signed our new giant H which will be signed by all visiting companies.

Aladdin opens on 19 December and also stars Marti Pellow (Abanazar) and Lee Mead (Aladdin).

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Chasing geese, Joan Collins, and a Blue Peter Badge – must be Panto


Mandy Rose, Press & PR Officer blogs about a forthcoming panto event and early memories

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of putting together a day of media interviews for our pantomime star Joan Collins who popped into the theatre to talk about her forthcoming panto debut in Dick Whittington this Christmas.   Like any true professional she was in and out of interviews all day and would put some of our younger members of the profession to shame – she seemed to have the energy of a 20 year old! 

Now I’m in the middle of organising our second launch with the rest of the cast – her leading men – Julian Clary, Nigel Havers, Keith Harris, Orville, Cuddles and Jeffrey Holland.  As well as media interviews in the morning, there’s a second event just for the theatre’s Friends and Group bookers.

It’s always exciting working on these events with lots of preparation behind the scenes to make it happen.   From inviting members of the media to interview them, (media are really keen!),  writing releases, making up press packs, organising interview time slots, and booking dressers and dressings rooms to making sure everyone is fed and watered on the day.    Then of course, there’s always that moment on the day itself when somebody asks for something out of the ordinary and you may find yourself dashing across to the Market for that extra piece of material, grips or can of hair spray!

I took a group of journalists to see John Barrowman in panto rehearsal in London in 2007

I’ve organised Press and PR for loads of pantomime productions (too many!), met some very famous people and have some great memories:   travelling with Britt Ekland in a chauffeur driven car to Liverpool at 11pm at night (she was on the Richard & Judy show the next day); taking the lovely Brian Conley to switch on Bham’s Xmas lights only to be overshadowed by Barney the dinosaur; chatting for hours with Paul O’Grady after he did a press call as Lily Savage (I still have one of the feathers from her headress); being mobbed by fans of Frank Bruno when he visited Cannon Hill Park; chasing geese outside the theatre when Matthew Kelly launched Mother Goose; getting stuck on the Euston Road with Ray Meagher (Alf from Home and Away) and ended up pushing the car (don’t ask); chased by Titan the Robot (that was scary); and of course organising two press days for John Barrowman.  And my proudest moment(s) –  receiving a Blue Peter badge for helping with a competition they ran to design a Dame costume for Christopher Biggins and coming up with an idea for a story featuring Britt Ekland on BBC Radio 4’s The Archers which was recorded both here and at the legendary Pebble Mill studios.  (we received great media coverage for that).

As I’m writing this, I’m receiving emails from the pantomime production company just reconfirming everything for our forthcoming event, I just really need to know what time the costumes are arriving so I can get them out of the way – some staff have been known to try on a costume or two – but don’t tell anyone!

I’ve got a lot of media attending the event from Central News to Heart FM so keep a look out for press coverage over the coming weeks.

Dick Whittington opens on 18 December

You can follow me on Twitter  @mandyrose1

You can follow Birmingham Hippodrome on twitter @brumhippodrome and Facebook – Birmingham Hippodrome

Dick Whittington is supported by Heart FM as Media Partner and by Chiltern Railways as travel partner.