I was saddened if not completely surprised by the announcement that Berwick Kaler and his four sidekicks have staged their last panto (Berwick bows out, The Press, February 28).

I’d like to thank them for creating wholesome festive fun and laughter for generations of York audiences.

I’d never been a fan of panto - all those former TV stars and Z-list celebs going through the tired ‘oh yes it is, it’s behind you’ routines - until I saw my first Berwick pantomime in the 1980s and was hooked.

His humour spoke to both kids and the older generations, with quirky references to local stories and scandals, and some fab ad-libbing. I remember in one performance of Old Mother Goose, a little child called out: “It’s a DUCK!” Quick as a flash, Berwick responded: “I need to have a word with costumes...”

Berwick has provided an annual beacon of humour and light through the decades for tens of thousands of theatre goers. His shows have been particularly important morale boosters over the past 15 miserable years of terrorism, credit crunch, austerity, doom, gloom, Brexit, Covid and cost of living crisis.

As The Press’ chief reporter I got to know Berwick well over the past few years as he became front page news, first by fighting back from heart problems and then by dramatically reviving his panto at the Grand Opera House after being dropped by the Theatre Royal. Happy retirement Berwick and all the best to the rest of the cast.

Mike Laycock, Former Chief Reporter, The Press, Fishergate, York


Thanks for all the years, Berwick

It is with the heaviest of hearts and overwhelming sadness that I write this letter...my beloved panto and its equally beloved cast are sadly no more.

For me it has been four and a half decades of devotion to Berwick Kaler and his gang. Now Christmas will never ever be the same again.

I never missed a single panto. I have attended every year since 1977 and last year I broke my personal record by attending 12 performances of Robinson Crusoe!

This panto has brought me so much joy and laughter over the years and so many lifelong friendships have been cemented because of it.

For me there will never ever be a replacement...my heart belongs solely to Berwick and Co...it always has and it always will. So to Berwick Kaler, Martin Barrass, Suzy Cooper, David Leonard, AJ Powell & Jake Lindsay I say this...thank you for all the years.

Stephen Cass, Fulford, York