Pantomime – Darlington 1992

Babes in the Wood, at the Darlington Civic Theatre. Cannon and Ball starred as the Good and Bad Robbers.

Ran from 6th December 1994 to 28th January 1995

Cast and Running order


BAD ROBBER – Tommy Cannon
GOOD ROBBER – Bobby Ball
NURSE TICKLE – Freddie Lees
ROBIN HOOD – Jonathan Kiley
MAID MARION – Lesley Ash
FRIAR TUCK – Ian Sandy
ALAN ADALE – Bradley King
LITTLE JOHN – Neil Ashley
THE FOREST FAIRY – Jo-Anne Hegarty
KING RICHARD – Ben Jefferson
SAMMY, LUCY (The Babes) – John Cross and Peter Conolly, Claire Eden and Hayley Blades

Dance-In Studio: John Cross, Claire Eden, Lyndsey Baker, Kerry Baker, Caroline Barron, Kate Buckley, Helen Booth, Christina Chapman, Charlotte Kemp, Amy Stephenson.
M. T. Laundy School of Dance: Hayley Blades, Peter Conolly, Gemma Waring, Jayne Elwell, Catherine Turgoose, Samantha Hall, Hayley Simpson, Katie Purvis, Emma Tinkler, Rebecca Chat.


Scene One – The Town Square
Scene Two – Robin’s Camp
Scene Three – The Village School
Scene Four – Robin’s Camp
Scene Five – The Castle Nursery
Scene Six – On the Way to the Forest
Scene Seven – The Babes’ Dream

Scene One – Nottingham Goose Fair
Scene Two – Deep in the Wood
Scene Three – The Heart of the Forest
Scene Four – The Sheriff’s Basement
Scene Five – Outside the City Walls
Scene Six – The Dungeons of Nottingham Castle
Scene Seven – Songsheet
Scene Eight – The Reception at King Richard’s Court

Company Manager: BRIAN THOMAS
Deputy Stage Manager: BEN JEFFERSON
Lighting Design: ADAM NIX
Chaperone to the Children: PAT BATTERSBY

Choreographer: DEBBIE LLOYD
Musical Director: RICK COATES


Cannon and Ball text Cannon and Ball picture

Cannon and Ball

TOMMY CANNON and BOBBY BALL are Britain’s funniest and most successful double act. In a career spanning over 25 years they have achieved a string of honours that puts them among the all-time ‘greats’ of show business.

On TV they have starred in their own series practically every year since 1979, and the success of their variety series and specials was recently enhanced by their own game show, Cannon & Ball’s Casino and highly successful comedy acting debut in the YTV sitcom Plaza Patrol. However, it is as the undisputed kings of live entertainment that Cannon & Ball have set standards that will probably never be bettered. Indeed, they have smashed box-office records all over the country – and continue to do so with consummate ease. For example, they celebrated their 25th anniversary as a double-act in 1991 by starring in Britain’s longest running summer season – 25 weeks at the North Pier, Blackpool. They first appeared at the venue in 1980 and played to capacity business – and their 1991 season was a virtual re-run of that success.

But then, Blackpool is a happy hunting ground for the Oldham-born twosome. In the space of ten weeks at the massive Opera House they grossed over one million! Their record-breaking season attracted over 300,000 patrons to one of Britain’s premier theatres.

Their debut season at the prestigious London Palladium in pantomime set more records. Over two million was grossed at the box office, and in the space of one week Cannon & Ball created the biggest box office takings in the history of British theatre.

In practically every pantomime season and summer show in which they star, Cannon & Ball set new records. It’s become a “habit” that has made them a show business phenomenon.

And, to add to their pedigree, they remain the only act in British Showbiz to have won three separate National Club Awards; have starred in several Royal Variety shows; received the highest awards in showbiz by being named Variety Club Personalities of the Year; starred in their own feature film The Boys in Blue, which in addition to enjoying huge success in the cinema has since gone on to become a video bestseller, and been featured as the subjects of This Is Your Life.

And there’s still plenty more to come, because Cannon & Ball have never been known to sit back and rest on their laurels – no matter how successful they have become.

“We’re still only youngsters,” laughs Tommy, “and both of us have loads of ambitions to fulfill. “We would like to make another film – perhaps we should go to Hollywood and do it in style! – and we’re also frustrated pop stars! Bob and I began as a singing duo and we still love to belt out a few songs in our stage and TV shows.

“The only difference is that whereas Bob would love a chart success with a really raunchy rock ‘n’ roll number, I would prefer a romantic ballad.”

Even away from showbusiness both have outstanding talents in other fields. Tommy has already chaired a professional football club, is one of the best golfers in showbiz and owns and rides his own horses, while Bobby has his own recording studio and writes poetry. Bobby also likes to relax by encouraging his sons Robert, a talented comedian like his father, and Darren, a gifted singer/songwriter.

Cannon and Ball have succeeded in establishing themselves as show business legends. It is no surprise to learn that they are also two of the nicest personalities away from the spotlight. “We have no pretentions,” says Tommy. “We’re a couple of ordinary blokes doing what we do best – entertaining people and making them laugh. We love it. The important thing is that we haven’t changed in our attitudes. We’re still Bobby and Tommy to everyone, and still get a kick every time someone shouts out ‘Rock on Tommy’ in the street.”

Summer ’92 found Tom and Bob at the Britannia Pier in Great Yarmouth where they took their-breaking 25th Anniversary Show which proved such a blockbuster in Blackpool.


Leslie Ash

Leslie Ash trained for the stage at the Italia Conti School. Her first provisional engagement was in the highly acclaimed film, Quadrophenia. She also played the female lead in Blake Edward’s The Curse of the Pink Panther, as well as leading roles in the movies The Nutcracker and Shadey with Anthony Sher.

Her television appearances are numerous and she is well remembered for the series Cats Eyes and as a presenter on Channel 4’s The Tube. Theatre experience includes The Bottom Drawer at the Oxford Playhouse, Of Mice, and Men at The Crucible, Sheffield, and she appeared in the West End in Paris Match opposite Sian Phillips and Stephen Moore.

This year she has made guest appearances in Perfect Scoundrels with Peter Bowles and Brian Murray, Love Hurts with Adam Faith and Haggard with Keith Barron, and she can currently be seen as Deborah in the comedy series Men Behaving Badly. She has also just started filming on Stay Lucky as the new love interest for Dennis Waterman.

Leslie has appeared in pantomime as Cinderella at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, and in Robin Hood at Leeds City Varieties. Leslie is married to Leeds forward Lee Chapman and she has now made her home in Leeds together with their two children.

Programme page

Jonathan Kiley

Jonathan trained at the Arts Educational School in London and made an early start to his career on Yorkshire TV children’s programmes. His first West End show was Peter Pan at the London Coliseum. He has played Joseph in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in no less than six productions, and directed a tour of the show. He also played Jesus in two productions of Godspell, Danny in Grease and Dick Deadeye in HMS Pinafore at Nottingham Playhouse where he has appeared in many productions including The Boyfriend, Mack and Mabel, The Matchmaker, Hamlet, Coriolanus, Mother Courage and The Gondoliers. The classics include Pistol in Henry V, Flute in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bergetto in Tis Pity She’s A Whore and Witwould in The Way of the World. Jonathan toured Britain and North America in Elvis – the Musical and spent 1986 and 87 playing Frank ‘n’ Furter in thenational tour of The Rocky Horror Show, breaking at Christmas to Direct and appear in Babes in the Wood with Les Dawson in Birmingham and Southampton respectively. Following that a tour of a new farce Doctor on the Boil playing Dr Tony Grimsdyke, then six months playing Frank in a new European Tour of The Rocky Horror Show. Jonathan has appeared in pantomime in London and all over every Christmas for the past 19 years, and directed them for the past six. In 1991 he directed, choreographed and appeared in a new national tour of Little Shop of Horrors.

Programme page

Freddie Lees

Freddie is one of this country’s leading pantomime Dames and this is his 35th pantomime and 20th dame!

In a career spanning 35 years, Freddie has worked at almost every regional theatre. Most recent credits include The Tempest at Bristol, Educating Rita at Swansea, Amadeus and See How They Run at Windsor, Loot and A Dolls House at Leatherhead, Taking Steps at Sonning, Romeo and Juliet, Pravada and A Midsummer Nights Dream at Nottingham and The Good Woman of Setzuan and Fitting For Ladies at Richmond.

Freddie appeared in Kennedy’s Children in Amsterdam, and in Bedroom Farce in Vienna. His West End credits include Billy at Drury Lane, Norman – Is That You at the Phoenix and the record-breaking Cinderella at the Dominion. National tours include Stepping Out, Habeas Corpus, Fur Coat and No Knickers, and most recently the lead role in Last Tango in Whitby. He played the lead in Radio 4’s six-part serial Deep Six, and television appearances include Coronation Street, Tandoori Nights, King and Castle, Goose With Pepper and The Bill.

Programme pageSean Canning

After using the Royal Exchange Youth Theatre Workshop as an excuse to dodge getting a Saturday job in his teens, and productions for the National Youth Theatre playing Autolycus in A Winter’s Tale and Lucio in Measure for Measure Sean decided that this was the life.

Once in theatre school he discovered unrealised skills in dancing, writing, singing and winning drinking competitions. After graduating in 1987 he toured clubs in a jazz dancing group, finally choreographing shows of his own.

Word of his choreography spread to the fashion world where over the past two years his name has become well-known in show production. His shows for leading manufacturers, high street retail chains and innovative designers, both new and established, can-be seen at major fashion events all over Europe from local shopping centres to the catwalks of Paris. Amidst all this he nurtures an undying passion for singing in rock and roll bands, which has (some say foolishly) been encouraged by the signing of his new band “Narcotic”. Described by many as a high octane fuelled version of “Public Enemy” and “Funkadelic” playing “Ramones” covers … expect a single in the new year.

This is Sean’s second pantomime with Cannon and Ball, and following the success of his King Rat in Dick Whittington at Hull last year, he was thrilled to be invited to appear before and be “boo-ed” by the people of Darlington.

Ian Sandy

Ian is from Birmingham, trained at Birmingham Theatre School for six years, and is a mere slip of a lad at 6ft. 1in. weighing a minimum of 18-stone. He drives, cycles, fences, plays rugby, has a good baritone voice, and is a competent puppeteer.

He spent several years working on various tours in the Midlands for children, totalling some 655   performances in various productions. He has also worked as DJ, compere, host, singer, comedian, children’s entertainer in various holiday centres and night clubs from Sutton Coldfield to Filey via Skegness.

He has appeared on BBC TV on many occasions, most notable as Fatty Arbuckle in Golden Oldies, Billy Bunter in Lucky Sunil and Mark in Casualty. For the pantomime seasons since 1989, he has played Friar Tuck with Cannon & Ball in Babes in the Wood at the Hippodrome, Birmingham, and at the Mayflower, Southampton. In 1990/91 was again Friar Tuck with Roy Hudd at the Theatre Royal Plymouth where he also enjoyed working with Keith Barron. During the past few summers he has been responsible for the entertainment in six holiday villages in Yorkshire.


Jacqueline Boanson

Jacqueline is from Darlington and has been dancing since the age of three. She attended the Hilton Bromley Stage School in Liverpool for two year after leaving school. She has worked in Summer Season and pantomime with such stars as Tom O’Conner, Bobby Davro, Little and Large, Keith Harris and Orville and many more. She has danced in many countries abroad including South America, Argentina, the Seychelles, Mauritius, Kenya, Canada, Spain, Italy and Greece. Her career has also included extra work for television, hair and fashion shows and she has appeared in front of Princess Michael of Kent. Jacqueline is delighted to be appearing at Darlington Civic Theatre after having just finished a tour with Billy Pearce and Linda Lusardi. She is looking forward to working with Cannon and Ball.

Jo-Anne Hegarty

Jo trained at Redroof Theatre College in Maidenhead. Since leaving she has worked as an ASM on the pantomime Humpty Dumpty at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham, and the Appollo Theatre, Oxford. She was ASM on a national tour of On The Piste with Hull Truck Theatre Company as well as playing the part of Melissa. Jo worked at the Civic Theatre here in Darlington for the first time last year as ASM in Mother Goose. She is delighted to be back again, this time in the role of the Fairy.

Justine Kavanagh

Twenty-two years old, born in Normanby, Middlesbrough. Trained from the age of six and in 1985 was senior British Modern Champion. After successfully completing ‘A’ level studies attended Leeds Dance College, graduating as a fully qualified dance teacher, I all forms of dance (July 91). During college appearing in various cabarets and fashion shows including Billy Pearce show. In December 1991 performed in first pantomime in Rhyl with Roy Walker and Cornellia Francis in Dick Whittington. From May-October this year joined a touring show Summer Sensation appearing at most Haven Warner holiday camps at Scarborough, Torquay and Weymouth. Spare time sees Justine at her local dance school “Dancewise” teaching and choreographing for local dance festivals and championships. Thrilled to be working so near home and in such a popular theatre.


Bradley King

Since his professional debut with Marti Caine at the age of eight, Bradley has lived his life in Showbusiness. Credits in theatre include extensive U.K. tours of West Side Story and Oliver, after which he was chosen by Roy Hudd to co-perform scenes from Oliver for the BBC series Halls Of Fame. Credits in TV range from LWT’s Game For A Laugh to roles in Brookside and How We Used to Live. Now operating as a vocal artist/impressionist/comedy actor and writer, Bradley King is an exceptionally talented performer. Last performing in pantomime at the York Theatre Royal, Bradley is delighted to play Alan Adale in Babes In The Wood.

Claire Louise Park

Claire was born in Darlington and started dancing at the age of three. She did most of her early training at local schools before going on to the Northern Ballet School in Manchester, where she studied everything from drama to ballet. Although this is her first professional show she has appeared twice before at the Civic Theatre in pantomime as a juvenile in Aladdin and other amateur performances. She is looking forward to appearing in her home town of Darlington.

Alison Towns

Alison has been dancing since she was six years old. After leaving school she stayed on at her local dancing school and did a two-year training course, gaining several qualifications in dance and exercise. For the past four years Alison has been teaching Jazz, Tap and Ballet to children from the age of three years upwards. After finishing her training and teaching Alison was delighted to do her first professional show for N.T.E. in the summer of ’91, touring round the South Coast of England for three months. Alison did her first pantomime last year with Keith Harris in Mother Goose and has since completed a summer season in Cornwall, which she thoroughly enjoyed. Alison is looking forward to this year’s pantomime in her home town of Darlington.


Neil Ashley

For many years Neil was with Nottingham Arts Theatre playing in numerous Musicals, Operetta and Pantomime. His roles varied from Ugly Sister in Cinderella to Lt. Cable in South Pacific. In 1989/90 he toured with Stage Door Productions playing Widow Twankey in Aladdin.

He reguarly sings in cabaret and theatre and has just finished a season at the Seacroft Hotel in Skegness.

Neil’s hobbies include fairground organs and rides. He has a living and working interest in canal boats, his home being a 70ft narrow boat in Nottingham. He is looking forward to his first season in Darlington.

Dance-In Studio

Dance-In Studio hold classes for children in Ballet, Jazz and Tap from three years of age. Children are entered for Royal Academy of Dancing examinations, achieving 100% passes and take part in both professional and amateur productions locally; £2,000 having been raised during this year for charity.

Dance-In children will be performing during the following weeks commencing 14th December, 28th December, 11th January, 25th January.

MT Laundy School of Dance

Therese Laundy is a well-known teacher in the area teaching over the last 30 years. Ten years ago she moved into her present premises at Haughton Road with two studios where she teaches Royal Academy Ballet and British Theatre Dance Association Ballet, Tap, Modern, Aero-Gym putting pupils through their grades, medals and festivals with a high rate of success from three years to adults.

Therese is an examiner with B.T.D.A. and travels widely in the course of her duties. This year in Johannesburg, South Africa, three senior students are at Dance College and one is working in Egypt on a cruise ship.

M.T. Laundy School of Dance children will be performing during the following weeks: Saturday, 5th December, weeks commencing 7th December, 21st December, 4th January, 18th January.


Peter Purves

Peter is probably best known for his ten-year spell as one of the presenters of the children’s TV programme Blue Peter. But his career spans more than thirty years, from the day he played his first professional role in the theatre (the Sheriff in The Rainmaker at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Barrow) to the present day. During that time he has appeared in more than 100 plays in theatre, including a season in the chorus at the London Palladium at least fifty TV appearances as an actor including a year as William Hartnell’s sidekick in Doctor WHO, and, since becoming a television presenter, has presented more than 1,200 programmes, which have ranged from Stopwatch, We’re Going Places, Special Assignments, and Inside Story to Driver of the Year, Crufts, Babble and his current successes Superdogs and Kickstart both of which will be on your screens again early in 1993. A couple of years ago he even had a cameo role as an investigative TV journalist in Eastenders. Much of his time these days is taken up with producing, writing and directing videos for corporate clients for his own company – Purves Wickes Video Projects – with clients as diverse as The Hanson Trust and Whitbread, BT, Haven Warner Leisure, and CASTROL UK. He has produced a number of TV commercials, including those for the UK and USA productions of the hit musical Buddy. He is currently involved as producer in the development of two major TV series – a new motoring based programme, and an on-going and very prestigious series on the National Trust.

He has starred in a number of pantomimes for E. and B. Productions with his colleagues from Blue Peter, Joan Noakes and Lesley Judd, and made his directing debut in 1981. Since then he has directed stars such as Dennis Waterman, Lorraine Chase, Rula Lenska, Tom O’Conner, Bill Owen, Matthew Kelly, Sarah Kennedy, Basil Brush, Lance Percival and Bonnie Langford. He is also directing Rolf Harris, Lesley Joseph and Sylvester McCoy in Cindrella in Bath for this Christmas season. He is pleased to be working with Cannon and Ball again this year, having directed their hit pantomime Dick Whittington in Hull last year. This is his first professional visit to Darlington.

He is married to actress Kathryn Evans, currently starring in the West End production of Radio Times, and whom he met, when they appeared together in pantomime in Guildford in 1978. They live in Northamptonshire.