Pantomime starring Krankies and John Barrowman branded “too risqué”


A Scots pantomime starring Torchwood actor John Barrowman alongside The Krankies has been branded “too risqué” for a family audience.

The annual SECC show in Glasgow will return for a fourth time this Christmas, and regularly plays to sold out auditoriums.

But critics have accused the Qdos pantomime of being too “blue” for its younger viewers, with some teachers claiming to be uncomfortable at the shows more adult material.

Alfie gave John Barrowman helping hand at book launch in Glasgow
John Barrowman stars in the annual SECC panto

The SECC, that charged between £12.00 – £27.50 for panto tickets last year, has defended the pantomime’s content, arguing that the show has to appeal to both children and adults.

Iain Gordon, General Manager of rival Glasgow theatre, The Pavilion, said: “We’ve had a lot of feedback from schools and general customers about how blue John Barrowman was and the number of gay references he made.

“We’ve taken at least ten schools from the SECC due to teachers saying they weren’t comfortable with the kids hearing the material.”

Mr Gordon said the King’s Theatre in Glasgow could also overstep the mark.

He said: “The King’s has maybe been a bit guilty with Karen Dunbar, but not to the extent of the SECC.

“I don’t blame The Krankies – I think they’re just following Barrowman’s lead. There’s a time and a place for being risqué and blue, and panto is not that place.

“I decided I was going to write to people and tell them they could feel safe coming to the Pavilion in the knowledge it would be completely child-friendly and squeaky clean while still being funny.”

Mr Gordon sent a letter to Pavilion customers last week claiming that recent Christmas shows in Glasgow had not been suitable for families due to offensive material.

Glasgow has three big annual shows vying for an audience every year, The Pavilion, King’s Theatre and SECC.

Allan Sneddon, head of concert and event sales at the SECC defended its annual Christmas show.

He said: “We’ve been privileged to welcome the Qdos pantomime to the Clyde Auditorium for the past three years and have received excellent feedback from all ages each time.

“The city plays host to a variety of pantomimes and as a family show we provide entertainment to suit both children and adults. This, plus the fact we have multiple sell-out shows year on year, speaks for itself.

“The cast are loved across Glasgow and, upon announcing the return of Qdos, John Barrowman and The Krankies to the venue, initial interest has been overwhelmingly positive.”

A spokesman for the King’s Theatre, whose pantomime features comedian Karen Dunbar and Still Game star Gavin Mitchell, added: “The King’s has always prided itself on being Scotland’s favourite family-friendly panto and the script is written with the family in mind.

“Its suitable for all ages from two to 102. We focus on topicality, high-quality production values and the traditional elements of panto.”

The Pavilion says their panto, starring Dean Park and Michelle McManus is already up on sales by £35,000 compared to this time last year.


  1. I took my 9 year old to the SECC panto and had no issue with it at all. Just has panto always has there are adult targeted jokes, but again, as they always have, they go straight over the heads of the younger audience members.

    Barrowman was superb – the perfect Panto leading man, and one of the greatest pleasures of my year was watching my daughter falling off her chair with laughter at the Krankies.

    Can’t wait to go again this year – tickets already purchased!

  2. Clearly, they’re trying to promote their own shows by spitting on someone else’s!

    I had never heard of panto before I knew about John Barrowman.

    When I saw pictures, I was more concerned about the outfits (the tights are very… tight!), but when you think about it, it’s no different than what you can see on the beach (and there are a lot of children there too).

    Then I went to panto 2 years in a row. I saw Robinson Crusoe and Jack & The Beanstalk – both starring John Barrowman and The Krankies – at the SECC.
    There are a few “below-the-belt” jokes, but there’s always a double entendre: children will only understand the innocent meaning of it while adults will clearly get the naughtier joke.

    There are definitely people who don’t like John Barrowman, but putting the blame on him only is quite nasty…

    Everyone involved in the process (authors, actors…) is responsible for what’s showing on stage, and in my opinion, if something is wrong – like a joke overstepping the line – it’s everybody’s fault, not just the actor’s who said it. I very much doubt that John Barrowman writes all his lines, and during rehearsals, if something turns out to be unsuitable for children, somebody is bound to raise this. At least, that’s what I would do.

    I can understand that teachers are very careful with the children, but there’s a line between being careful and putting them in a bubble inhabited by Care Bears and unicorns.

    Speaking of which, I didn’t see any kid offended by the show. As a matter of fact, it’s rather the 3D parts that scared them.

    Having attended both matinee and evening shows, I can say that the matinee shows are aimed at a younger public, while the evening shows target a more mature audience. The jokes and references are different.

    For example, this year, the Krankies started a joke but, instead of following on it, John just said that there were too many gags but he couldn’t do them, not at a matinee show.

    I loved the shows and the children I saw there were delighted.

    We don’t have shows like that here in France, but I would have no problem bringing my nephew to one of them when he’s old enough (he’s currently 2).

    Lastly, I saw John Barrowman interact with kids at the stage door, and he’s absolutely lovely and funny with them. All the actors were really nice, but John always goes the extra mile to make sure the kids enjoy their panto experience. He’s very respectful of his audience, from children to elderly people. During one show, he even asked an elderly woman if she was having fun and liked the show.

    Please stop trying to show John Barrowman as evil.

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