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History of Panto Archive

2016 - 2020


2020 - 2023

2023 - present

Panto Archive started in 2016 by Darren Chivers. Darren's time and effort over the past seven years has helped create this brilliant online archive. The time and effort that Darren put in saw many features and pages created going into the history of the world of panto. It's always been the place to go to find out who - what and when. During the world pandemic Darren helped keep sprits high with a new Q&A series - he even spoke to the future owner (without knowing it). 

In 2023 GLJ Entertainments completed the purchase of PANTO ARCHIVE and started the new area with a brand new logo and look to the website. The panto archive also saw new social media pages being created on Instagram and Facebook. Gary the new owner said "It's wonderful to keep this fantastic page alive - we aim to bring even more history, fun and information to the page over the coming years". Panto Archive would like to place on record it's thanks to CROSSROADS PANTOMIMES for it's continued support. We have lots of ideas and we can't wait to share them with you. 

Learn more about the owner

Gary L Johnson



A Christmas Carol

Castle Theatre, Wellingborough


The Princess and the Pea

Castle Theatre, Wellingborough


Beauty and the Beast

Castle Theatre, Wellingborough


The Wizard of Oz
Castle Theatre, Wellingborough


Castle Theatre, Wellingborough



The Shaw Theatre, London


Robin Hood

Alton Towers



The Sundial Theatre, Cirencester



(Easter Tour)

Sleeping Beauty 

Benn Hall, Rugby - The Century Theatre, Coalville

Sleeping with Beauty 

Touring production

Rugby 2022.jpg

A panto chat with Gary

Pantomime has always been present in my life (like I'm sure it's been ever present in many of yours). Ever since I could remember we've always gone to the theatre and enjoyed the pantomime together. My earliest memory of panto is going to the Castle Theatre in Wellingborough as a child with my Nan and Pap. The Castle used to do a "Christmas show" officially but it was every but the name a panto. The earliest title I can remember was THE GINGERBRED MAN - I can still see the set today. It was amazing! It was like the audience had been shrunk down to the size of the character. Mrs Teabag and the Gingerbread man had me hooked. Since then it was always a highlight of my year - to see what title was coming to the local theatre next. I loved to see the old artwork on the posters - so much time and effort when into the drawings. 


As I grew up we started going to other theatres close by - I can remember going to The Royal and Derngate with my mum to see Jim Davidson (I used to like him on the TV). The production levels took a huge step up from my local with projectors at the start of the show. A massive book opened on the stage and Jim (along with the other characters) moved in the book. I know it sounds silly now but I'd never seen projection in theatre. The production was DICK WHITTINGTON. I can't remember much from the production but what I do remember is Jim Davidson coming out at the end apologising that King Rat was missing from the fight scene - as he had been taken ill backstage. 

I auditioned (like many young people) for my local Christmas show was I was younger - to be in the chorus. I was lucky to be given the part of TINY TIM in A CHRISTMAS CAROL - THE PANTO. I took the character to a new level when I broke my arm just before the run. But the show must go on... (not sure you could do a panto in a cast these days).

It was always my aim to be a professional actor - I always believed to be successful on stage you must know how the backstage works. I took a job as a Youth Theatre, Director and was lucky to work on a couple of Christmas shows with (now west end star director) Luke Shepherd. It was amazing to see him working and exploring the characters - it's something that I'm now lucky to bring to the stage.

In 2017 I turned professional (actor) and panto was my first thought. Believe it or not - I returned to my local theatre.

I feelings I had was so strange - I could see myself back in the seats with my Nan and Pap - when I looked out to the young children. The school shows are always my favorite. Since then I've been lucky enough to work with many different people and now I've started wearing the frock. 

I just hope when I go on stage I inspire the next generation of panto performers (like the Gingerbread man did for me). 

Thank you for reading and enjoy

Panto Archive

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The Panto Archive

We would like to thank our sponsor Crossroads Pantomimes for their continued support.

With thanks to the following people who have contributed to the site by supplying images such as handbills, posters, programmes and panto photos which help to grow our archive for all to enjoy: 
Eric Sanderson
Nick Potter
Lawrence Cody

Spencer Mitchell


Thanks to our previous site sponsors

Qdos Entertainment

Imagine Theatre

We would also like to thanks all of our current and previous reviewers. Including Tanya Cutting, Olly Webb,

Donna Scribbins, Ryan O'Neil, Scott Richie and Amanda Holmes

We also want to extend our thanks to all of the venues and production companies for their ongoing support and

co-operation as well as the cast and crews from each and every panto.

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