Had a great time switching on the Christmas Lights at Bradford-on-Avon on Friday night.
Lovely to meet the Mayor and the winners of the Christmas Lights Poster competition.
Christmas countdown begins with lights switch on in Bradford on Avon Richard Mills, Bradford on Avon reporter / Friday 27 November 2015 / News
HUNDREDS turned out to see a shimmering and glistening Bradford on Avon for its Christmas lights switch on in Westbury Gardens on November 27.
Dame Trot, played by former EastEnders star Nick Wilton, from Jack and the Beanstalk at Bath’s Royal Theatre and poster competition winners Michaela, Bethany and Toby turned on the lights at 7pm much to the delight of the crowd.
The night involved children’s rides, carol singers, late night shopping, food, drink and a myriad of other entertainment.
“I have done a Christmas lights switch on before but not quite like this, it is wonderful and now with the lights on it’s even more gorgeous,” said Mr Wilton.
“It is a fantastic and very lively crowd. It is an absolute joy to come out and the rain has stopped which makes it even better. I would love to come back again if they invited me.”
For nearly 30 minutes, the Bath School of Samba, brought a carnival-like atmosphere to the town’s streets with their harmonious drumming.
“There were huge crowds following us which was brilliant. What keeps us going in the cold and rain is a night like this, there is such a good atmosphere and it looks fantastic,” said the group’s director Robbie Verrecchia.
Owner of the shop Tillions, in the Shambles, and one of the masterminds behind the entire event, Caroline Philpott, was delighted with how the night had turned out.
“An incredible amount of planning went into this and it looks to have paid off luckily. It is the first time we have had someone switch on the lights in costume and people loved it and we have been really busy in the shop too,” she said.
Youngsters thronged the streets to queue for Santa’s Grotto, with more than 150 ‘magic’ wands being given to children in Bull Pit.
“Santa has been kept extremely busy tonight,” said Barbara Millerof the Bradford on Avon Rotary Club. “It was absolutely packed. The kids are bewildered but loving every minute and having a wonderful time. It is just a joy to see everyone enjoying themselves.”
When I told friends that I was going to meet Nigel Havers, the reaction was a universal sigh of envy.
He is the embodiment of boyish good looks and irresistible charm,with a voice like fine wine and a CV that ranges from Oscar-winning
films to Oscar Wilde on stage.
But this Christmas he will be donning the hideous make-up and
swirling the slime-coloured cloak as the demon Fleshcreep in Bath
Theatre Royal’s Jack and the Beanstalk.
And he will be in his element
“I always do villains,” he says, “because they are the best parts. I
have a ball doing it. It is hard work but I enjoy it. I like scaring the
Not all big stars do pantomime. Nigel says actors either love it or
hate it and he loves it. He was taken as a child and has never lost a
taste for this peculiarly English theatrical tradition.His panto villains have included Fleshcreep (which he last played at
Southampton in 2013), the Sheriff of Nottingham, the wizard Abanazer in
Aladdin and, perhaps his favourite, Captain Hook in Peter Pan.
Nigel Havers has had a long and distinguished career on the cinema and
television screens, with roles that have ranged from the elegant Lord
Andrew Lindsay hurdling to Olympic silver in the Oscar-winning 1981 film
Chariots of Fire through television hits including Upstairs Downstairs,
The Charmer, Don’t Wait Up, The Glittering Prizes, A Horseman Riding
By, and more than 150 episodes of Coronation Street as the charming
conman Lewis Archer, to a guest role in Downton Abbey.
On stage he has played Serge in Yasmina Reza‘s Art, Maxim de Winter in
Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt in Alan
Bennett’s Single Spies, the celebrity guest star in The Play What I
wrote, and he is currently on tour playing Algernon in a gloriously
funny production of The Importance of Being Earnest, in which his
co-stars include Sian Phillips as Lady Bracknell and his old chum Martin
Jarvis as Ernest. The two originally played the same parts some 30
years ago at the National Theatre and had long planned to reprise their
roles in a stylish “mature” production of the Oscar Wilde classic.
Standing up to the evil machismo of the demon Fleshcreep will be the
feisty and colourful Dame Trott, mother of our hero Jack and his
accident-prone brother Simple Simon, played by Bath favourite Jon
Monie,. Jon had a long and successful festive season partnership with
the late great Chris Harris, who played the dame in so many Bath
Nick Wilton, who plays Dame Trott, made his pantomime debut at Plymouth
with Chris Harris, in 1987 and he cites Chris as his inspiration for
playing the dame as a lovable clown character rather than a glamorous or Ugly Sisters style dame.
His first dame was at Salisbury Playhouse,
when he played Nurse Nelly in Robin Hood & The Babes in the Wood. Away from pantomime, Nick describes himself as a “Jack of all trades”
playing in many Ray Cooney farces and a wide range of roles from Ali
Hakim in Oklahoma to Rosencrantz in Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and
Guildenstern are Dead, from Samuel Pepys to Sir Percy in Alan Bennett’s
Habeas Corpus. He has been in many television programmes including EastEnders, Doc
Martin, Casualty, Heartbeat, Carrott’s Lib and many children’s shows.
Nigel and Nick have never played together before but both are looking
forward to bringing this classic panto story to life for children and
friends and family this Christmas in Bath. The panto also stars Katy Ashworth from CBeebies as the Forest Fairy.
Katy is an accomplished singer, actress and storyteller and also writes
and illustrates stories for children. Jack and the Beanstalk is at Bath Theatre Royal from 10th December to 10th January.
Thanks Vivienne for making sense of my ramblings...
Vivienne Kennedy interviews Nick Wilton who will be starring as
Dame Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk at Theatre Royal Bath this
In a few weeks time CBeebies presenter Katy Ashworth and professional
charmer Nigel Havers will be making their way to Bath where they will
star in the Theatre Royal’s pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk. They will
be joined by panto favourite Jon Monie, who this year plays Simple
Simon, and by Nick Wilton, who will be donning frocks and heels as Dame
Trott. Recently I caught up with Nick during a press call at Bailbrook
House Hotel for a chat about life as a pantomime dame.
You’re no stranger to the frocks and heels of a pantomime dame,
having been playing the role since the turn of the century, which sounds so
long ago... Yes, such a shame I didn’t start a year earlier, so that I could have seen
the new millennium in really, but I couldn’t get a “Dame” before that. It took about three years to get one. I decided when I was 40 that I wanted
to do it. I’d done a couple of pantomimes playing the comic when I was younger
and doing kids telly, I did one in 1987 and the other in 1991, then in 2000,
having seen a few programmes about Dames... I always like those TV programmes
about “the business”...I thought “ooh, that really ties in with what I do”; I
was doing lots of comedy sketches at the time. It seemed like a role that would
really allow me to do all the things I like doing. I started asking people if I they’d let me be Dame but I couldn’t find
anyone, they all wanted someone who’d done it before. I was in Salisbury doing
the farce See How They Run, asked there, and they said yes, I could do it. That
was Robin Hood and the Babes in the Wood, in Salisbury, in 2000.
Has it been every year since or have you had some breaks? Yes, every year since.
Is this your first time in Bath? No, I’ve been to Bath a couple of times. I think the first time was in 1988
when I was in a farce with Brian Rix, Dry Rot, and then I think I’ve done a
couple of other plays since – I was here as Samuel Pepys in a wig and there was
something else, but I can’t remember what it was...another farce probably, Run
For Your Wife. This is my first Bath pantomime though because of course Chris Harris was
Big footsteps to follow in... Indeed. I did do my first pantomime with Chris though, so he has been my
inspiration. I loved his clowning. I’m not a clown like him but we do have a
similar style, very much a man in a dress.
Have you seen this year’s dresses? They’re all mine. I’ve built up quite a wardrobe over the years. There is one more I might buy; I’m going up to London on Tuesday to have a
look at a possible finale costume. It’s easier in a way. When I started they were made for me, but as I’ve
started working with different producers they do expect you to have a few of
your own and the collection’s just built up over the years. I suppose I’ve got
15 or 16 now and I use about 10 in each show.I tend to use the same 10 to be honest and I haven’t got any Aladdin
ones...if I get in to Aladdin anywhere I have to beg, steal or borrow because I
haven’t got anything Chinese themed, but I can normally get away with that.
Do you have a favourite? There’s a very nice daisy one, which I got online from a person that I then
found out runs the Music Hall Guild of Great Britain, which restores the graves
of all the old stars. They just got Dan Leno’s, who was one of the great Dames;
they’ve got the responsibility for looking after his grave...anyway, for some
reason, this man made costumes too and this particular one is a short little
dress with a Bo Peep hat. I probably will be wearing that. It normally
gets a laugh.
The Dame is quite a full on role...quite physical...10 costume
changes alone are going to be quite tiring... Yes, you’re either on stage or changing. Sometimes I think I quite like the
beginning of the pantomime, because you do come on quite late, normally 10 or
15 or even 20 minutes into the show, but after that, yes, it’s full on.
The Dame didn’t used to have so many costume changes but it’s gradually
become part of the tradition.
My costumes are very much character costumes, they’re not gags in their own
right...you know what I mean? I don’t come on dressed as an ice-cream cone or a
box of fries.
How do you prepare? Do you have a fitness regime that you follow
through the year? Not really. Considering the size and shape I am, I’ve got quite a lot of
I am trying to do a bit of cycling at the moment. If I’m at home and I need
to go to the shops, I go by bike, and one of them’s up quite a big hill!
What are you looking forward to about spending Christmas in Bath? Oh, just being here, I love Bath.
I found a nice place to have coffee, just near the theatre, yesterday, so I
was pleased about that.
I haven’t been here for a few years, so it has changed a lot. It’s lovely
though, it always has a nice ambience, and I do love the Pump Rooms. My wife’s
coming down with me so I’m sure we will have a tea at some point. It's such a nice city to walk around.
When it comes to January will it be a relief to lose the heels, or
will you miss them? It normally is. Although I love doing it, it’s quite nice when January
comes. We normally go on holiday, somewhere hot. I always figure we’ve earned
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me this afternoon
and I hope you have a lot of fun during your stay in Bath and enjoy your
Jack and the Beanstalk opens with an evening
performance on Thursday 10 December and runs until Sunday 10 January. There are
no shows on Monday 14 and Friday 18 December and the cast are also given
Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off. For the rest of the run there will be two
performances each day, with the exception of New Year’s Eve when there is only
a matinee. For further information, including ticket prices, and to book