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It was developed in Britain at the early 18th century based on commedia dell'arte. Originally it included characters such as Columbine and Harlequin. Later British started adding comic characters who would make fun of the leads. It became the most popular form of theatre. Pantomimes were usually set in a netherworld which was half a land of knights and kings and half a satire of the place and time of the performance. The main hero was usually a boy played by a woman. He would marry a girl at the end, also played by a woman. On the other hand, a popular character of the Dame was usually played by men. Phrases like "On no there aren't!" or "Oh no it isn't!" became signature phrases of pantomime eliciting the participation of the audience who would shout their disagreement.
Bernice Summerfield once experienced pantomime come to life when a Perfecton missile turned the spaceship Winton into Pantoland. During the incident, many of the panto tropes became reality: Wolsey changed into a real life version having similarities to the panto character Puss in Boots, Bernice found herself addressed as Dick despite being a woman, Professor Arthur Candy turned into Dame Candy and Bernice witnessed the audience of Perfectons engaged by "Oh no they're not!" (PROSE: Oh No It Isn't!, AUDIO: Oh No It Isn't!)
The Doctor themselves was once a player in a pantomime. Death's Head unwittingly discovered the Seventh Doctor portraying a jester in a Brighton pantomime, but the Time Lord was able to get off stage before the robot mercenary could find him. (COMIC: Time Bomb!)
Behind the scenes
Doctor Who at the real-life panto
Ahead of his first guest host appearance on The Friday Night Project in January 2007, David Tennant, alongside regular FNP co-hosts Justin Lee Collins and Alan Carr, attended and took part in a panto of Cinderella at the Broadway Theatre in London that featured Kelle Bryan as Cinderella and Linda Robson as the Fairy Godmother.
During one scene, Carr and Collins played scary trees that Cinderella encountered in the forest — and when Cinderella asked the Fairy Godmother for help, the Fairy Godmother called for the Doctor. A full-size TARDIS mockup appeared from off-stage, and from behind it, Tennant emerged as the Tenth Doctor to the Doctor Who theme and raucous applause. Using his normal Scottish accent instead of the Tenth Doctor's Estuary English accent, he greeted the audience, explained he was in the Time Vortex when he heard the Fairy Godmother's call and decided to help and invited the two of them to take shelter in the TARDIS.