BBC Radio 4, 24 December 2011
Imagine a pantomime that combines all the favourite bits from other 'traditional'
pantomimes - Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Aladdin, Hansel and Gretel - and intersperses
them with serious interviews with scientific experts about their recent scientific research. Some of it sounded fantastic
- perhaps proving that reality is often stranger than fiction.
Young Jack (Tom Glenister) shinned up the beanstalk and encountered a phantasmagorical
world full of glass slippers, genies and magic carpets. All the traditional panto elements were there: the bad jokes, excruciating
puns and the familiar cries of "She's behind you!" Throughout the action, the experts kept intervening, telling us about
the great new strides being made in "geno-sequencing," "hydroponics"," "proto-cells," shoe design, magic carpet ripples making
aircraft fly more efficiently, and all-knowing genies emerging from mobile phones so long as they are rubbed up in the right
way. These scientific interviews were delivered with deadpan seriousness; if we didn't know this was a pantomime, we might
have been encouraged to take them seriously. The entire story was narrated with
earnest enthusiasm by Dr. Sharon Ann Holgate, making it seem as if the pantomime was a genuine scientific investigation.
Performed by a six-strong cast, including Keith Drinkel, Roger May, Sam Dale, Jayne
Whittenshaw and Sarah Markland as well as Glenister, Celia de Wolff's entertaiing romp provided a refreshing variant
on the run-of-the-mill entertainments that normally appear at this time of year.