Berwick Kaler’s 41 years as the dame at York’s Theatre Royal will finally be behind him in February.
When The Grand Old Dame of York ends he will hang up his trademark red and yellow tights and ginger wig for the last time.
Berwick, had a pacemaker fitted in 2016 and had a double heart bypass in 2017, has never missed a show and did not want to “let audiences down”. He said “I’m pushing my luck, I’m 72 and a very physical dame. I don’t want to go on with a Zimmer.”
The writer, performer and director from Sunderland said: “Panto has always come first.”
Since his 1965 Babes in the Wood debut and earning panto damehood in 1977, Berwick has acted with many stars, including ex 007 Pierce Brosnan and Oscar-winner Gary Oldman.
Oldman was Dick Whittington’s cat in 1979 and, Berwick recalled, “fainted three times in the cat suit on stage.”
Berwick, known for throwing biscuits and bottles of beer into the audience, said: “I don’t wear make-up, I wear a wig and that’s it.
“I’m a Geordie dame in Yorkshire! I’ve broken all the rules. Panto is an art.”
The Grand Old Dame of York, York Theatre Royal, until 2 February, call 01904 623568 and yorktheatreroyal.co.uk