Berwick Kaler has proved he is dame for a laugh through his madcap costumes over the years. MAXINE GORDON reports

FOLLOWING our Yesterday Once More feature last week on panto legend Berwick Kaler, the Theatre Royal have been rummaging around the green room to find more fabulous images from the star's colourful past.

Berwick's first panto at the Theatre Royal was in 1977, when he starred in Cinderella. This Christmas will mark his 40th anniversary because he missed two years in 1986 and 1987.

The theatre not only dug out some images of Berwick in traditional dame garb, but pictures of him as a boy and a young actor.

As you will see – he looks totally different without a ginger wig!

As fans of the Theatre Royal panto will know, Berwick grew up in Sunderland. He left school at 15 and moved to London to follow his dream of becoming an actor.

He was trained as a painter and decorator, so did that in London while looking for theatrical roles. The story goes that one day, while painting a set, he asked actor Laurence Harvey if it was necessary to go to acting school. Harvey told him just to buy a copy of The Stage and turn up at an audition. Berwick followed this advice and ended up getting a job at Dreamland in Margate.

Berwick has had success as a TV actor in shows such as The New Statesman, Crocodile Shoes, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Spender as well as steady theatre work.

However, it is his role in the Theatre Royal panto for which he is most famous.

Over the years, he has played the dame in countless productions, often with a humourous twists on tradition. Who can forget Babbies in the Wood (2002), Robin Hood and his Merry Mam (2012), Aladdin and the Twankees (2013) and Dick Whittington & His Meerkat, which was staged in a temporary traverse theatre in 2015 at the National Railway Museum while the Theatre Royal underwent a facelift.

Berwick has appeared in many guises over the decades and some of the most memorable are shared here and include the star as Little Bo Beep, the Sydney Opera House, the solar system and even a Walnut Whip!

They say there's nothing like a dame – well certainly, not a dame like our Berwick Kaler.

You can still catch Berwick in Jack & The Beanstalk, his 39th panto for York Theatre Royal, which is running until February 3.