Sunderland Empire’s panto dame whipped off his wig to give fashion students an insight into his colourful costumes.
Philip Meeks took a break from appearing as Dame Nellie Trott in Jack and the Beanstalk to give a talk to Fashion and Art students at Sunderland College.
This will be the Sunderland-born actor’s tenth season as a pantomime dame and the costumes, which Philip designs himself, are a huge part of being a dame.
Philip, who is also a soap screenwriter for the likes of Emmerdale, Heartbeat and Doctors, said: “This being my second time at the Sunderland Empire I’ve got a whole new wardrobe, there’s a few bits being recycled but in a different way so I very much doubt anyone will remember them.
“I spend ages thinking and designing the frocks which I usually start doing in May.”
He added: “I base my dame on John Inman (I’m not comparing myself to him) because I am a man in a frock but like him, gentle. I’ve often been told my wardrobe contains the styles John liked to wear. Recently, however, I became very good friends with John’s partner Ron Lynch, who sadly died himself this year.
“He came to see me in Blackpool last season. He didn’t say anything at the time but said to a mutual friend later ‘he knew what he was doing with his costumes. John would have approved’ which made my year”.
Sheree Rymer, Curriculum Leader for Creative Arts, Sunderland College said: “We were delighted to have such a well-known theatre dame visit us at The Arts Academy. The visit has provided our Fashion and Art Level 3 students with an insight into theatrical costume design and how the professionals obtain their inspiration.
“On our courses we place a lot of emphasis on collaboration across the arts, so bringing theatre into the classroom for Fashion and Art has been an opportunity to show the wealth of different career paths they can have. The students really appreciated the time Philip took out of the pantomime to meet them and answer all of their questions.”
•Jack and the Beanstalk is running at Sunderland Empire until January 7. Tickets available from the Box Office on High Street West, via the ticket centre 0844 871 3022.