I was fortunate enough to attend a remembrance event for Sydney Devine at Glasgow’s Pavilion Theatre last week. 

Dubbed “Scotland’s Rhinestone Cowboy”, Sydney was undoubtedly one of Scotland’s biggest stars of the late 20th Century. 

Most moving of the event was not the sadness of watching the recordings of Sydney on the Pavilion stage, knowing they would never perform there again – it was the overwhelming palpable love shared by the audience. 

Queuing up outside the theatre, the buzz began – patrons were saying “Are you here to see Sydney? Well, not to see Sydney but…” 

When the one-hour video presentation began, the crowd went wild.

Screaming, cheering, singing along – it would be hard to think of a more fitting tribute to the man who rocked the auditorium hundreds of times over his incredible career. 

At the time of writing this column, I’m also just one week away from attending my first pantomime of 2021. 

As regular readers will know, my enthusiasm for pantomime is not a recent thing – but having been starved of the magic for two years, the excitement is almost too much to bear. 

I’ll be working my way around the whole country over the next six weeks – fuelled only on Haribo Starmix and fairy dust – to see some of the biggest and best shows on offer. 

I expect there will be some poignant moments – Andy Gray was part of the Panto triumvirate at the King’s in Edinburgh. He sadly died this year, leaving a huge hole at the heart of the Edinburgh institution. 

Grant Stott and Clare Gray

Not quite stepping into his boots, but appearing in what is both a casting triumph and a tribute to his huge presence, is his daughter Clare – appearing as Narcissa. She may get the boos, but we suspect she’ll be a favourite. 

On the other side of the M8, you’ll be hard-pressed to miss a pantomime in Glasgow. From the King’s to the vast SEC and the Pavilion covering just the largest venues, there is something for everyone. 

Gary Tank Commander returns to the SEC by popular demand – he was an absolute triumph but only appeared for a season. He’ll be back causing mischief with Leah MacRae and Gavin Mitchell. 

Fast becoming a legend of his own right, Johnny Mac returns to the King’s in Glasgow with Queen of the pantosphere Elaine C Smith with Cinderella. Mac finally gets to play Buttons on the stage he’s become so at home with. It’s sure to be a joy.

Up in Aberdeen is the man behind the scenes in almost every major panto across the whole country – but Allan McHugh will be onstage at His Majesty’s Theatre as dame. He’ll be joined by a host of familiar faces, including Paul-James Corrigan – a rising star on the Scottish panto scene. 

But my first show of the season will be at Perth Theatre’s Cinderella – starting Barrie Hunter, with a super talented team behind the curtain. If their online panto in 2020 is anything to go by, audiences will be in for a real treat!