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Panto dame hangs up his stockings after four decades

Ray Spencer, Victtoria Elliot and Bob Stott

Ray Spencer, Victtoria Elliot and Bob Stott

A PANTO dame is preparing to ditch the drag as he hangs up his stockings after 37 years of tickling ribs.

Grandad Bob Stott, from Springwell Village, has spent almost four decades making audiences laugh as Dame Dotty, a character which has most recently been an annual feature at the Customs House pantomime in South Shields.

But at the end of this year’s run of Dick Whittington, he will take his final bow as his fabulous female alter ego – oh yes he will!

Bob, 66, said: “It will be strange to do the last show. I’ve been two people for so long, but it’s the right decision. When it’s time to go, it’s time to go.

“We have created a brand here, that’s fixed, but it needs to move on to future generations.”

Along with comedy partner, Ray Spencer, who plays Dotty’s son Tommy, Bob’s pantomime pairing has proved to be a highlight of the annual pantomime at the Customs House after they started doing the double-act 37 years ago on smaller stages.

Bob, a grandfather of four and a great-grandfather of two, plans to spend more time with his family.

He said: “I have loved playing Dotty because she gets away with so much. She’s also a classic North East mam that’s had ‘nowt’. She’s had no good men and two sons that she finds infuriating but that she loves to bits.

“It’s lovely being everyone’s mam.”

Bob has featured in countless panto tales with Goldilocks being his favourite and Mother Goose his least preferred, but he says the common enjoyable theme is making children laugh.

“This is their first introduction to the theatre,” he said, “and it’s fun to play to different audiences.

“Kids want rude noises and falling down and anything to do with poo and breaking wind, but then there are lines which only adults understand.

“One of my favourite bits is doing the carols at the end of the show. The closer you get to Christmas, the more you can see the kids practically climbing the walls with excitement.”

Such is the popularity of Bob’s character that his local pub has brewed a beer in his honour. Dotty’s Spiced Porter ale will be available at The Sir William de Wessyngton in Concord, Washington.

Brewed by Houghton-based brewery, the Temptation Brewing Company, the ale will also be available at pubs in South Shields and Newcastle.

Bob said: “I’m a great fan of real ale.

“I’m looking forward to celebrating a third successive year of Dame Dotty real ales. It doesn’t get much better than having a real ale named after you.

“Kay and Tony of the Temptation Brewing Company actually asked me what kind of beer Dotty wanted and so it’s been made to order ‘festive flavour and a bit spicy’ – just like Dotty.”

l Bob will star in Dick Whittington at The Customs House from tonight to Sunday, January 6. Tickets start from £8 and are available on 454 1234 or by visit www.customshouse.co.uk

Twitter: @sunechokaty

 

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