RETRO: Eyup, it’s panto time!

Lyceum Theatre - pantomime rehearsal Humpty Dumpty.'Picture shows.... A scene from the pantomime with "Humpty Dumpty" Wyn Calvin on centre stage with chorus - 23rd December 1964
Lyceum Theatre - pantomime rehearsal Humpty Dumpty.'Picture shows.... A scene from the pantomime with "Humpty Dumpty" Wyn Calvin on centre stage with chorus - 23rd December 1964
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Eyup Knutty! For years Sheffield comedian Bobby Knutt was the king of Sheffield pantomime.

The kids loved yelling his catchphrase at him when he came on stage at the Crucible Theatre.

He was very involved in the pantos at the Crucible in the 1980s, writing the shows as well as starring in them in a variety of daft villain roles.

He happily led the traditional fun there with all its cross-dressing daftness, entertaining versions of current pop hits, chucking buckets of goo across the stage, encouraging the audience to shout, hiss and boo with plenty of local in-jokes. It is a well-tested recipe still at the heart of pantomime today.

Perhaps surprisingly for an adult entertainer in his life as a stand-up comedian, Bobby didn’t think there was any place for smut in a panto.

He told The Star in 1989: “We keep the panto ultra clean. You can get laughs from adults without being risqué. The strongest word in a panto should be bum.”

By 1990 Bobby had entertained around a million youngsters over the years and he said he did it by becoming a kid himself.

“You’ve got to be a child when you entertain children,” he said. “I reduce my mental age to about nine and become a little boy again.”

He said he dreaded the older kids who read innuendo into every line, preferring the innocence of the tinies who loved pure slapstick.

Over the years there have been all manner of stars in Sheffield pantomimes.

Our photographs show popular names of their time including Harry Secombe, Cardew Robinson, Brian Glover and Jimmy Clitheroe.

At the Lyceum the most famous name in Dick Whittington this year is Samantha Womack, who plays Ronnie Mitchell in EastEnders.

However, the real star of the show is bound to be much-loved dame Damian Williams.

The old Empire theatre was once the home of Sheffield panto fun and Pat Harris from Woodhouse Mill got in touch a few years ago with memories of her famous uncle’s appearances there.

Comic Freddie Frinton stayed with her family in the mid-1950s.

She said: “I was 11 or 12 when he came to stay with my parents when they were decorating. They’d got the carpet up.

“As Uncle Freddie came in they said sorry for the mess. He said ‘Home from bloody home!’”

He was appearing at the Empire that year with singer Ronnie Hilton and Peter Dulay, who had an act in which he dressed as a Teddy Boy.