Berwick Kaler

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Berwick Kaler
BornRaymond Berwick Kaler
(1946-10-31) 31 October 1946 (age 75)
OccupationActor, writer, director
Known forYork Theatre Royal's annual pantomime

Berwick Kaler (born 31 October 1946)[1] is a British actor most famous for playing the dame in York Theatre Royal's annual pantomime, which he also wrote and directed. He has been awarded the freedom of the city, and in 2002 received an honorary degree from the University of York.[2] Having grown up in "the slums of Sunderland", Kaler left school at 15 to seek success on the London stage. He got taken on at Dreamland in Margate to learn his trade.[3] He has had TV roles in such shows as The New Statesman, Crocodile Shoes, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Spender as well as steady theatre work.[2] However, it is his role in the York pantomime that has won him the most acclaim.[4]

Many pantomimes in recent years have relied heavily on celebrity guest stars and risque humour. Kaler's pantos reject this and hark back to a more traditional form of pantomime. Kaler comments: "I want everyone to laugh at the same joke".[3] Kaler's central role in writing, producing and directing has led Dominic Cavendish of The Telegraph to call him the "panto's biggest asset and its biggest liability."[5] Kaler has assembled a cast of actors who regularly return to the panto.[3]

Towards the end of each pantomime at the Theatre Royal in York Berwick Kaler throws Wagon Wheels, as one might a Frisbee, to the audience, as well as handing out a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale to a father seated in the stalls.[6]

In November 2010 Kaler followed in the footsteps of actress Jean Alexander and TV presenter Harry Gration in switching on the Christmas lights in the village of Burn. In recognition of the village's Victorian market he dressed as Queen Victoria, something he often does in each pantomime. During the event, he was appointed Honorary Dame of Burn.[7]

In 2012, he was featured on the documentary Michael Grade's History of the Pantomime Dame, which also featured clips from the 2011 pantomime The York Family Robinson, a parody of the novel The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. The programme aired in December 2012 on BBC Four.[8]

He officially retired from the York pantomime in February 2019.[9] His 'glitterball' costume from the final performance, was donated to York Castle Museum and went on public display on 1 May 2019.[10]

Selected appearances[edit]


  1. ^ Hutchinson, Charles (2 December 2016). "Sister act! Berwick and AJ turn Ugly in York Theatre Royal's Cinderella". York Press. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Actors, craftsmen, scholars, campaigners and leaders of industry to be honoured by York". University of York. 5 June 2002. Archived from the original on 11 March 2009. Retrieved 11 March 2009. 11 March 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Koenig, Rhona (30 December 2004). "Berwick Kaler: Grand old dame of York". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 11 March 2009. Archived 11 March 2009.
  4. ^ Rees, Jasper (14 December 2005). "Panto's merriest widow". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 27 December 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2010.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) 11 March 2009.
  5. ^ Cavendish, Dominic (5 January 2006). "When the star is the problem". The Telegraph. London.
  6. ^ "Old Mother Goose, York Theatre Royal, review". The Independent. 18 December 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  7. ^ Fifield, Nicola (29 November 2010). "Christmas lights switched on around North Yorkshire". York Press. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  8. ^ a b "BBC Four Michael Grade's History of the Pantomime Dame". BBC. Retrieved 27 December 2012.
  9. ^ Hutchinson, Charles (3 February 2019). ""If the theatre needs me, I'll be back like a shot," says departing dame Berwick". York Press. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  10. ^ Dodd, G. (2 May 2019). "Berwick Kaler's 'glitterball' costume on show at York Castle Museum". York Press.
  11. ^ "A Knight's Tale (2001) – Full cast and crew". Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  12. ^ "Nightbirds Story: Nightbirds Plot, Check out the plot and story details of the movie Nightbirds – Piczo Movies". Retrieved 8 September 2009.
  13. ^ "Nightbirds: Nightbirds Movie Reviews, Nightbirds Reviews, Nightbirds Story, Plot, Cast, Photos, Wallpapers and Videos – Piczo Movies". Retrieved 8 September 2009.
  14. ^ "Berwick Kaler Information, Photos, and Trivia at MovieTome". Archived from the original on 28 March 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2009.
  15. ^ "Berwick Kaler". Retrieved 8 September 2009.
  16. ^ "First Night Records Online Store, Annie Get Your Gun – 1986 London Cast". London, United Kingdom: First Night Records. Retrieved 3 June 2012.

External links[edit]