Gillian Haywood-Widdowson Interview: Starting Out In Pantomime


Gillian Haywood-Widdowson Interview: Starting Out In Pantomime


7 November 2018


Oral history interview with former dancer and Pantomime performer Gillian Haywood-Widdowson.

What's the story?

Gillian Haywood-Widdowson was born in Manthorpe in Lincolnshire in 1933 and moved to Nottingham aged 2, living in Sneinton Dale.

As a child she contracted rheumatic fever and following advice from doctors her mother enrolled her in dancing classes to try and prevent further problems with her joints.

As a teenager she started dancing professionally and performed in Pantomimes at the Theatre Royal, most notably Dick Whittington in 1948, Jack and the Beanstalk in 1949 and Red Riding Hood in 1950.
For these shows Gillian was one of the star performers for Kirby’s Flying Ballet, which performed spectacular aerial routines.

Gillian continued to dance well into her 40s, performing cabaret work, as well as her second career of designing and making bridal veils. She still lives in Sneinton.

In this interview Gillian talks about the Pantomimes she appeared in both at the Theatre Royal Nottingham and in Derby:

Yes, I loved them all, every one, yes. Jack and the Beanstalk in London, Jack and the Beanstalk here at the Theatre Royal. Dick Whittington – I’ll have to try and remember, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood and Red Riding Hood at Derby. I was there when the King died, in Derby, because they closed the theatre down for the day. I was having to travel back on the bus then. Backwards and forwards and they let me stay one night. The girls said “You’ve missed the bus, Gill. Come back with us to our digs”, and I did. But I had to ring the police up to tell them to let my mum and dad know where I was, else they’d wonder where I was. No telephones, you see, we didn’t have. We weren’t that rich.


Oral interview

Location of item

Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall Nottingham


Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall Nottingham


Interviewers: Valerie Rogers & Sally Smith