Best Mates

Anyone who has been to see Big Dick Whittington, will have noticed that there is an additional cast member in the programme. Vincent Hayes, who was due to play Ship’s Mate, Issey Goode, alongside Paul James, Ship’s Captain, had to pull out of the role during rehearsals. Paul James stepped up to take the helm in the New Years Eve show, and his “partner in crime”, Paul Harris (the other half of BBC Radio Kent’s Two Pauls), was asked to come in to take over Vincent’s job of Directing and Producing the panto.

SONY DSCPaul Harris worked in close collaboration with Paul James, Zara Kattan and the rest of the team, who had to do some quick thinking about who could ever hope to replace Vincent as Issey Goode.  They knew they would have to do something completely different and decided to give Hayley-Jo Whitney a call.  Hayley-Jo is a comedy actress, well known to Brick Lane Music Hall audiences for her appearances in such shows as Divas and Oo La La. With the programme already at the printers and opening night only a few days away, Hayley-Jo gamely stepped in.

SONY DSCVincent was soon ready to come back into the show, but Hayley-Jo proved to be such a success in the role of Issey,  that she was asked to stay for the whole of the run and they found Vincent another part!

070[1] (Copy)A special thanks and congratulations to the whole cast and production team for making sure Big Dick Whittington has been such a successful and enjoyable pantomome. And also thanks to our audiences for their whole-hearted support along the way. Big Dick Whittington ends March 8th.

Do You Know This Man?

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Afficionados of Brick Lane Music Hall pantomimes will remember Rusty Goffe’s historic performance in Snow White and the Dwarf, where his character was masterminding a benefits scam which involved taking the parts of all seven dwarfs, all musicians, including a French accordianist and a Spanish guitarist.

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Rusty has taken on some epic roles over the years, in a whole variety of elaborate disguises including roles in several major films. Rusty was an original Oompa Loompa – pictured below alongside Gene Wilder (Rusty is on the left). He is known world wide among Star Wars fans for his role as Jawa in the film.  He has apppeared in several Harry Potter films, including most recently as the Goblin Bank Teller (left, next to Anthony Allgood), in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

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In this year’s pantomime, Big Dick Whittington, Rusty plays King Rat. Pictured below backstage with Vincent Hayes and at the top of the page with Paul James – thanks to Nigel Ellacott for backstage pictures.

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You can see more backstage panto pictures and follow Nigel’s panto blog for more stories and goss, in Betty’s Brick Lane Blog – (

Big Dick Whittington runs until March 8th.

Some New Faces!


Those who have been to see Big Dick Whittington will have noticed a few new faces gracing our stage. Pictured above, is Ellie Self who plays Fairy of the Bells. Ellie trained at the New Contemporary Ballet School as well as Millennium Performing Arts before appearing in various musical and pantomimime productions, including performances at the London Palladium and the Nottingham Playhouse. To Ellie’s left, and right in the picture is Bethany Walsh (also right, below). Bethany also trained at Millennium Performing Arts, as well as training at the Northern School of Ballet and has appeared at the Playhouse Theatre and the Bloomsbury Theatre.


Nigel Ellicot, who plays Betty Swallocks, is no stranger to Brick Lane Music Hall, but he will be a new face to pantomime audiences. This is the first time he has played Dame here and we are delighted to welcome him in his debut pantomime role! To Nigel’s right, and on the left in our picture is Lauren McCabe. Lauren trained at CPA Studios and has appeared in musicals and pantomime, as well as dancing with the New English Ballet Company. Peeking from behind (and above, left) is Stephanie Sen. Also a graduate from Millennium Performing Arts, Stephanie has performed around the world and danced in the spectacular Olympic opening ceremony. Stephanie is a Bollywood dance fitness trainer! We found this picture of her taking some Hayling Island school children through some moves for Diwali.

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Getting the Show on the Road!

Our Outreach Team have an extremely busy schedule, travelling to residential care homes around London and the South East. Brian Walker and Michael Topping have been joined for some shows in the new year by Joni Talks. This work is supported by generous donations from our customers, enabling the team to keep on taking shows to those who are unable to come to us.

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These pictures were taken by Brian Walker on the team’s recent visit to Chiswick. See our “Out and About” section for more pictures and stories.

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If you work in a care home or long stay ward and would like us to pay you a visit, you can complete the Contact Us section of this website for more information. Donations or show sponsors always welcome!


By Royal Approval…..

As we prepare to publish our 2014 Souvenir Brochure, which will mark the centenary of World War One, we are pleased to be announcing the winners of the Great British Music Hall Songbook Quiz which appeared in our 2013 Souvenir Brochure. We had a record number of entries for the quiz and the winners, who are from Milton Keynes, will be our guests at a lunchtime performance of Big Dick Whittington in February. Congratulations to them and to all who took part……. answers below.

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1. Down Paradise Row
2. Picardy
3. In Dublin’s Fair City
4. Bow
5. Crewe
6. The seaside
7. The Isle of Man
8. The Strand

Following Vincent Hayes’ award of an MBE we sent a copy of the brochure to Prince Charles’ office. They wrote back saying thank you very much, but the quiz had stumped them. They could only answer seven questions! We hope you did better.

You can win tickets for forthcoming shows in all our programmes – including our current pantomime programme. Be sure to get your copy!

There Is Nothing Like a Dame….

Nigel Ellacott comes from a long line of pantomime dames, that uniquely British institution that started with the tradition of men playing female parts in Shakespeare’s time and was developed by the likes of Joseph Grimaldi in the 19th century and Dan Leno into the 20th century, until it blossomed in the hands of George Lacy who introduced the idea of the regular costume change, establishing the dame at the heart of pantomime, with her extravagant excesses and frivolous flights of fancy.


Douglas Byng took the costume design to new heights of glamour, and legends such as Danny La Rue stopped at nothing to wow the audience. Over the years comedians have added comic potential to the outfits. John Inman’s bedtime attire included a whole washing line of assorted undergarments and Stanley Baxter was once flown onto the stage as a fully lit chandelier.


Nigel himself has been playing pantomime dame for 39 years. He makes regular appearances on television as dame, most recently on ITV’s Text Santa, at Christmas. Nigel has created the website all about pantomime, which includes a blog “Nigel the Dame” where you can follow his adventures as Betty Swallocks in Big Dick Whittington!

Brick Lane Music Hall Sets the Scene….


The Cat’s Whiskers


In the Brick Lane Music Hall annual pantomime, Big Dick Whittington, Andrew Robley takes on the role of Tommy the Cat.











Pictured above, left to right, Andrew with Anna Campkin who plays Alice Fitzwarren, Stephanie Senn and Bethany Walsh. With Paul James who plays Captain Norfolk. And with Saskia Brynne who plays the title role of Dick Whittington. Costumes were designed and made by Frank Kershaw, with overall production design by Zara Kattan.

The story of Dick Whittington is based on a real person, and there are different theories about whether or not he owned a cat. You can read more in our panto’ programme – available at the show – with more information about the artists and their stories and the story of Dick Whittington – and his cat!

Big Dick Whittington runs until March 8th.


Britain’s Great War

In September we were delighted to welcome Jeremy Paxman to Brick Lane Music Hall (pictured below with Vincent Hayes). He came with the BBC while filming Britain’s Great War, a series commemorating World War One, following the publication of his book of the same name. Brick Lane Music Hall was used as a backdrop for discussions about Music Hall during this period.

As Music Hall was in its heyday at this time, it was very much intertwined with the soldiers’ lives. Soldiers were given songbooks as part of their standard kit. The Music Hall song “It’s A Long Way to Tipperary” became the marching anthem of the Great War. There were regular concert parties close to the front line and at home Music Hall kept up morale and was a vehicle for recruitment.


You can read more in our 2014 Souvenir Programme which will mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One. In the meantime, you can watch Jeremy Paxman on BBC 1! Episode 1 is on Monday January 27th at 9pm.

Pantomime time!

Yes, pantomime time is fast approaching and we wish the cast and crew of Big Dick Whittington the very best of luck for the opening night on Saturday!

Below, fight co-ordinator, Ben Goffe has been directing fight scenes between his Dad, Rusty Goffe and Andrew Robley for the big battle scenes!


Director, Paul Harris, attempts to keep order during cast rehearsals….


While Musical Director, David Harvey, and choreographer, Hayley-Jane Simmons, take the cast through their dance moves!


Big Dick Whittington opens on Saturday, 18th January and runs until March 8th. Full of fun and surprises, it will be the biggest Brick Lane Music Hall pantomime EVER!




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