Bowie influence on new Harrogate panto

Interview: Clive Kirkham is channelling his inner David Bowie for a Harrogate village’s annual pantomime - but it will remain a very community-based show.

Friday, 8th February 2019, 3:36 pm
Updated Saturday, 9th February 2019, 9:37 am
A Lad In Pannal - Pannal Players cast members playing Wishee, Washee, Aladdin, Princess Joanne and Sue Shi.

Clive says A Lad in Pannal, which will run from February 27 to March 2, is partly a magic carpet ride tribute to the glam rock era of David Bowie’s famous alter ego Ziggy Stardust.

His real hero, however, is thewoman whose memory is recognised with the charity which will receive proceeds from the show – The Joanna Luty Memorial Fund.

Clive said: “My heroine in the panto is named Joanne after Joanna who battled cancer at Jimmys hospital in Leeds.“I never got the chance to meet her but her memory is very much alive in Pannal.“The money raised this year will go to her fund.

The fun-packed A Lad in Pannal will be the first time Clive has written as well as directed the annual panto presented by Pannal Players.

He said: “It started with me directing someone else’s script, which makes it harder to understand and to interpret.“This is my third time and it just seemed to make more sense if I wrote it as well as directing it.”

For a village panto held in the village hall with just two backdrops, Pannal’s production always boasts a big cast and a lot of local references.

As well as giving the spotlight to youngsters from local schools on stage, A Lad in Pannal will also feature some well-known regulars.

The ‘experienced hands’ will include Helen Mercer Jones, Lorna Snowden, Harvey Pennell, Rosie Wignall and Michael Newby, though the latter, for once, will not be playing the dame.

The songs will have a 70s glam rock theme in general, as befits such a vibrant production and the writer-director’s Bowie inspiration.

The script is also influenced a little by Phillip Pullman,too.

Clive said: “I am a big Bowie fan, especially of the early 70s glam rock years. “It was such a shock when he died.“Author Phillip Pullman once wrote a children’s short story version of Aladdin but he made Aladdin a teenage rebel who learns the error of his ways. There’s a bit of that in it.”

Pannal panto is always a real community-based effort and Clive’s approach reflects that.

He said: “The cast is always local. We’ve got 20 on stage this year. Even people who’ve moved away from Pannal come back to take part.“There’s a lot of references to the village in my script. “It’s all in a good cause. Raising money for the Joanna Luty Memorial Fund is a nice way of keeping her memory alive.”

Pannal Players present A Lad in Pannal at Pannal Village Hall from February 27 to March 2.

Tickets are available now online at