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Dick Whittington Review: Bristol Hippodrome

Dick Whittington pantomime review

The Bristol Hippodrome
Saturday 6th December 2014 – Sunday 5th January 2015

A GREAT white shark swam right up to my seven-year-old daughter and flashed a toothy grin last night at the Bristol Hippodrome.
Like many other kids in the audience, she screamed. Unlike most kids, she also ripped off her 3D goggles and looked around just to check she was definitely in a theatre watching a pantomime, not swimming under the sea with a turtle in imminent danger of being eaten.

Oh dear. That sounds scary!

The shark is the only fright in Dick Whittington which is a pantomime that all the family can enjoy.  Sparkly, musical, noisy and totally over the top, it certainly brought out the big kid in me. If it sounds too intense for your child, read on for details of a special ‘relaxed performance’ on December 30.

Who’s Dick Whittington again?

You remember the story, right? No, I didn’t either. Something to do with a poor boy becoming Lord Mayor of London by tackling a rat infestation. Oh yes, and he has a cat.

Dick Whittington Pantomime, Bristol Hippodrome

A cat? I’ve heard there’s a dog in the show.

That’s right ! Pudsey the dancing dog, and boy is he a show stealer!
You may already know that Ben Faulks (aka Mr Bloom from CBeebies) plays Dick, that X Factor semi-finalist Brenda Edwards plays the good fairy and that Bristolian panto king Andy Ford is back as the fool with his brilliant blend of daft cheek and adorable ineptitude.
But all are upstaged this year by a supremely talented eight-year-old – Pudsey, the super dancing dog.  He only appears a few times, with Ashleigh Butler (who plays the heroine Alison) but you quickly see why the pair won Britain’s Got Talent  in 2012 and why Simon Cowell called them one of his “favourite ever” acts.
The clever pooch draws gasps of admiration from the crowd as he struts across the stage on his hind legs, spins around and jumps into Ashleigh’s arms.

Dancing dogs and 3D underwater sequences – not a traditional panto then?

Oh yes it is! Oh no it’s not. Oh yes it is! All the ingredients of a traditional panto knees-up are here, albeit with thoroughly modern songs such as Happy, All about that bass and One Direction’s Best Song Ever. Expect a bit of audience participation at the end.

Kids young and old will be instantly won over by stand-up comedian Andy Ford. As usual he’s playing the fool and as usual he’s brilliant.
This year he plays Idle Jack, who apparently gets his looks from his mum (the panto dame), his brains from his dad and his bottom from Kim Kardashian. “It’s not a perfect bottom,” says Jack. “It’s got a crack in it.”

Ooh cheeky. Is it rude?

There’s nothing really offensive, unless you are offended by a man dressed in a giant cupcake dress with cherry buns for breasts – in which case, what are you doing at a pantomime?
Certainly there is a steady stream of innuendo from Emma the Cook, the preposterously-dressed panto dame played by veteran Eric Potts, but it seems to pass over the children’s heads.
I find panto puns a bit dull myself. But it’s tradition innit?
Indeed the baking scene, in which suggestive sausages keep popping up out of pie, got some of the biggest laughs of the night from the kids, who had no idea of any ulterior meanings.

Should I take my children?

The audience was packed with youngsters of all ages including plenty of schoolchildren even though it was a week night and the show lasts two hours and 20 minutes including an interval.
If your child is very young or very nervous you might want to warn them about the shark, which comes a couple of minutes into the 3D sequence after the swordfish.
Other than that, Queen Rat (Boooo! Ssss) is a fairly innocuous baddie and unlikely to scare your little one.
It is, however, a full-on, loud, sparkly assault on the senses with one short burst of pyrotechnics. If your child is on the autism spectrum or is sensitive to sensory overload, you might want to book tickets for the  ‘relaxed performance’ on December 30th. Check out … for details.


You know you want to. Oh yes you do!

Saturday 6th December 2014 – Sunday 5th January 2015

The Bristol Hippodrome

Tickets: £10.00* to £39.50* (concessions available)

0844 871 3012* (booking fee)

(*Subject to booking/transaction fee)

Groups/Schools hotline:  0844 871 3032 (No fees. Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm)

ACCESS FOR ALL: Service for patrons with a disability – 0117 302 3222 (Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm)


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If you’re getting into the Christmas spirit, check out our guide to the Best Santa Grottos in Bristol, North Somerset and Nearby, including booking information, ticket costs and accessibility details and some unusual and fun ways to see Father Christmas  like on a steam train, a boat or even on the pier.


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