Heroes of Panto: Philo and Vance

Re. Christmas Memories – The Palace Theatre, 1994


You have (slightly) mis-remembered: the ventriloquist in the photograph was called Vance Waddell and his dummy was ‘Philo’ (though on reflection ‘Milo and Vince’ does seem easier on the ear.)

I’ve no idea if Vance still practises what my father referred to as ‘the dark art’; as I recall, he struggled to master the most basic tenets of his craft, instinctively covering his own mouth as ‘Philo’ spoke and removing his hand to reply.

Some were charmed by the effrontery with which Vance signaled his incompetence; unfortunately, Philo’s louche persona became repellent, alienating the audience and rendering his ‘master’ vulnerable to hostility and assault.


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