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VIDEO: Journal reporter Duncan finds his inner dame with Barnstaple's Sleeping Beauty panto cast

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: December 12, 2013

  • DASHING DAME: Duncan takes to his new role. Picture: Mike Southon. Ref: BNMS20131205F-009_C

  • DASHING DAME: Duncan takes to his new role. Picture: Mike Southon. Ref: BNMS20131205F-009_C

  • COME HERE: Antony Stuart-Hicks grabs Duncan for his makeover. Picture: Mike Southon.

  • DASHING DAME: Duncan takes to his new role. Picture: Mike Southon. Ref: BNMS20131205F-009_C

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A few days after starting work at the Journal, I was asked if I wanted to get turned into a pantomime dame. I immediately agreed, knowing this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. But as the days went by, doubts about Dame Day crept into the back of my mind.

How could I go to council meetings after this? What if it was impossible to reverse the transformation? I considered crashing into a wall on the rainy drive to the theatre.

In the dressing room at the Queen's Theatre, the real pantomime dame Antony Stuart-Hicks picked out a wig, dress, sponge breasts and yellow and black tights. He initially seemed to doubt my dame potential and there was talk of shaving off my beard. But it was decided it would be more interesting to leave it.

The change crept up on me without me realising it, like the man who woke up in the morning to find he had turned into a huge insect. The wig was so heavy it threw me off-balance and I knocked into doors as we walked around the theatre.

After doing some glamour shots and falling out of a lift, we went to the pannier market where Christmas had arrived. An unexpected side-effect of the transformation was I felt like going for a run or lifting some weights. I borrowed a skateboard from a couple of teenagers and attempted a highly technical trick. If I couldn't make a convincing dame, perhaps I'd be a convincing skateboarder.

But the dress tripped me and I didn't land the trick up so I had a wander around the market. When a mother asked me to have my photo taken with her kid, I started to think I really was a pantomime dame after all.

At the end of the evening I got changed and used facial wipes to take off the makeup but it wouldn't come off around the eyes and the wig had left a nasty dent across my forehead. On the drive home I stopped at a petrol station where the owner asked me if I was OK. She wanted to know what business I had going into her garage with a dented head and streaks of blue around my eyes.

I was neither Duncan nor dame. I wanted to explain to her what had happened but it was too complicated and magical for words.

Panto Sleeping Beauty kicks off at the Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple this Saturday, December 14 and runs to Saturday, January 4. Box office: 01271 324242.

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