The Marlowe
Free pantomime watched by over 90,000 people.

Free pantomime watched by over 90,000 people.

Over the twelve days that Nurse Nellie Saves Panto was available to stream (23 December to 3 January), an estimated 91,000 people viewed the production – around the same number that experience the live pantomime each year at our theatre.

The digital version of Nurse Nellie Saves Panto was originally intended as a pilot to stream into care homes in the region, but it was made available to wider audiences as it became apparent that the live performances couldn’t go ahead due to Coronavirus restrictions – which have kept theatres closed since March 2020.

The opportunity to enjoy the pantomime at home was received with excitement and relief by Marlowe audiences, for whom the Marlowe pantomime is a much-loved Christmas tradition. The theatre’s Facebook page was flooded with thousands of comments from audiences getting into the Christmas spirit from their sofas at home:

“We laughed, we booed, we lunged, we did the bench dance & we wore our matching reindeer onesies. Thank you @marlowetheatre, we can’t wait to be back in person”. Emma Charlesworth

Katie Yates commented that “we were delighted that you are showing it and keeping our family tradition going”; Paul Trinda said “thank you @marlowetheatre Nellie definitely saved Panto, now it feels like Christmas!” Vicki Welch said “it’s not Christmas without The Marlowe Panto” and Michelle Gaskin posted “we haven’t missed a panto in over 20 years, so we were really pleased to still be able to watch it.”

Nurse Nellie Saves Panto was also streamed to 91 care homes across the region, where it was watched by over 1,500 residents during the Christmas period.

One of those care homes was Highland House in Canterbury where its residents and staff watched the performance to lift their spirits after a very challenging year.

Bette Beech, 95, was one of the residents who watched the show. She says: “I was quite excited. We’ve been in lockdown and to come down and see something so colourful was brilliant. I enjoyed it. It was lovely to watch”
The performance was also watched by residents at Old Farmhouse Residential Home in Canterbury, where staff created the atmosphere of a theatre, with a red carpet, mulled wine and hot chocolate for them to enjoy during the show.

Deputy Manager Ivana Pavlikova says: “Our residents were interacting so well. They were clapping, stamping their legs, shouting and doing whatever the Fairy asked.”

“It felt great to be a part of the screening,” she adds. “It was a little bit of normality in the craziness. It brought memories back and the residents were reminiscing. They remembered that they used to take their grandchildren to panto and things like that. It got spirits up and made the residents feel special. It was just beautiful.”

The film of Nurse Nellie Saves Panto was also fully accessible, with different versions available that featured British Sign Language interpretation, audio description and captioning. The accessible streams were viewed by over three hundred audience members.

As well as entertaining audiences in the South East of England, the production was watched around the world, attracting viewers from Australia, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Poland, New Zealand, Malaysia, Sweden, Turkey, United States and China.

Deborah Shaw, Chief Executive of The Marlowe Theatre said:
“The Marlowe pantomime is such an essential part of Christmas for so many families, so we were determined to ensure that they could enjoy it, even during lockdown. The actors, technical and production teams worked so hard to make it happen, along with our brilliant co-producers Evolution Productions and film company Spark Films – both Kent-based companies.

We can’t wait to be back live next year, but we’ll be making the digital stream into care homes and vulnerable audiences an annual feature. In the meantime, through this dark period of lockdown, we’ll be looking at a series of projects to support the wellbeing of our audiences and especially our young people”.

Paul Hendy, writer, director and producer of Evolution Productions said:
“We’re absolutely thrilled that our streamed pantomime was such a success. We were disappointed not to be able to perform our usual live pantomime but the feedback to the online version has been incredible. It’s wonderful to see how much our pantomime means to the people of Kent and beyond.”

Tickets for this year’s pantomime, Jack And The Beanstalk, are available now and be purchased via or by calling our Box Office team on 01227 787787.

Nurse Nellie Saves Panto was sponsored by Walker Construction, who are based in Kent.

The making of the digital film was supported by SELEP Ltd.