Allova Din & His Wonderful Gamp (1984)

Local Interest, Vintage Technology
Many, many moons ago, my father John Vickerstaff worked as an electrician at St Edward’s Hospital in Cheddleton. An old Asylum with the most gigantic dance hall and stage you could imagine.

Each year around Christmas time the staff would put on a ‘show’ for the patients, other staff and general public. They were variety shows of the kind you would see on the TV at the time. Live from the London Palladium and so on. Comprising musicians, dancers, singers, choirs, barber’s shop quartets and as my father once described, “anyone who could bang two spoons together.”

These shows were very popular and were extremely well supported by the hospital staff and paying public.

In 1984 though, my dad became a little more hands on with the production, wearing the co-producer’s hat along with hospital colleague Peter Dodds, having previously looked after the lighting and technical stuff. This time, rather than put on another variety show the decision was made to ‘have a go at a pantomime.’

It was felt that a full-on pantomime would be a little much to begin with, mostly I think because no one really fancied learning loads of lines! Instead a compromise was found. Samuel French, the publishers had a number of one-act pantomimes which were written entirely in rhyme. Only around an hour in length, with dialogue much easier to learn.

Dad consciously steered away from what he called ‘regular pantomimes’ and always gravitated towards the more unusual or off-the-wall ones. So for St Edward’s Hospital’s first foray into the world of rhyming panto, they chose to put on, ‘Allova Din & His Wonderful Gamp.’

A parody of Aladdin, as you could probably guess!

My mum took a major role in this show along with many family friends and staff at the hospital. Hospital legend Johnny Brough took the villains role which he did several more times over the coming years, becoming one of the best panto villains around.

I video recorded the final performance on our portable VHS recorder and Sony colour video camera. I was ten years old.

Allova Din was an enormous success! As soon as the final curtain came down my dad was asked, ‘what are we doing next year John?’

And so began a run of Pantomimes at the hospital, helmed by my dad.

From memory…

Allova Din, 

Cinderalfred, 

Humpty Dumpty,

Santa In Space, 

Little Miss Muffet and 

Goldilocks and The Three Bears.

I’ve started transfer these old tape recordings to my PC before the VHS cassettes fall apart completely. I’ve uploaded Allova Din to Odysee and the link to view it is below.

Allova Din & His Wonderful Gamp

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