International ice icons Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean made their pantomime debut over the festive season in CINDERELLA at the Manchester Opera House, playing the fairy godparents, Queen Juniper and King Crispin, a slight deviation from the traditional tale. It was still the familiar Cinders story though, with an icy twist… well not real ice, but it looked like ice and Jayne and Christopher used roller skates rather than the ice versions, but their routines were just as immaculate and amazing.
It’s been over 30 years since the pair shot to International fame, becoming the highest scoring figure skaters of all time and providing one of the most memorable sporting and entertainment moments, skating to Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo to win the gold medal.
For the past decade they have been involved with ITV’s DANCING ON ICE.
“This is our first pantomime,” said Jayne in an interview prior to the Christmas run, “…and something we have been wanting to do for some time.”
I didn’t get to Manchester to catch their performance live, but by all accounts Britain’s most loved sporting heroes impressed in their first ever panto. My drawing however got to them in person at the venue and immediately came back signed.
The exquisite Helena Bonham Carter is one of the best in the business on and off the screen. On the many occasions that I have met her she has always been lovely and taken the time to not only sign, but talk to you.
She was the reason why I attended the UK premiere of Kenneth Branagh‘s Cinderella at London’s Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square this week. The two time Academy Award nominee and BAFTA winner plays the Fairy Godmother and it was going to take a bit of magic to get Helena’s sig on my sketch. I usually try and position myself near the drop off area where most of the celebrities hop out of their vehicles and start signing before heading to do the obligatory and time consuming media commitments.
I didn’t manage to secure a spot, stuck away from the action in a corner that didn’t bode well for my mission. That proved to be the case as the cast and crew all arrived, signed a few in the drop off zone and moved on, reducing me to a passive spectator, getting ‘graphs but of the photo variety only. As usual Helena was one of the last to arrive.
She was in a van with her family and because of a car behind was moved on a little, alighting near me. She immediately waved her wand, well her sharpie, and started signing just a few metres from my position and more importantly was moving in my direction. Helena has a wonderful array of signatures from a simple triple initials ‘HBC’ to the full ‘Helena Bonham Carter’. For the purist ‘grapher collecting all the variations is a priority. I have been lucky to have acquired a few. Helena spent time chatting with me and signing the drawing with a very nice dedication and “Helena BC x’ and as a magical bonus, initialled my Sweeney Todd book.
Isn’t that Sue Ellen from Dallas??? Oh, no it isn’t. Oh, yes it is! Well, it is Linda Gray who played JR Ewing’s long-suffering drunken wife in the cult TV series Dallas making her panto debut in Cinderella at London’s New Wimbledon Theatre. Although it’s not Linda’s first appearance on the London stage, it is her first in the British festive tradition. She was encouraged by Patrick Duffy, aka Bobby Ewing, Dallas‘s other surviving star, who played Baron Hardup (Cinderella’s father) in London and told her, “you’ve got to do it!” Linda mixes a touch of the Texan with the familiar fairy tale, playing the stetson-toting, hip flask swigging Fairy Godmother who helps Cinders get to the ball. Her stage credits included the role of Mrs Robinson in The Graduate on both the West End and Broadway stages in the early 2000’s. And here’s a piece of trivia: it’s Linda’s uncredited leg in the iconic 1967 poster for The Graduate film. Her anonymous stocking-clad stem stood in for the film’s star Anne Bancroft at $25 a leg. Cinderella continues at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 11 January 2015.