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Paul Baker


The Sound of Sunday special compilation of some of the stars of the Anvil’s Christmas pantos over the years will be archived as part of The Anvil’s 25th anniversary.
The theatre and concert venue opened in Basingstoke in 1994 and celebrated 25 years in May 2019.  As part of The Sound of Sunday’s annual Big Christmas Show, presenter Neil Ogden has interviewed many of those who have come to Basingstoke at Christmas.  The first person to star in the panto in Basingstoke was Barbara Windsor, just months after receiving a “Gotcha” from Noel Edmonds after a spoof tour of the town, chosen because in those days it was seen as a bit boring with nothing but roundabouts and car parks.  The Anvil has helped changed that reputation, and over the years many stars have spent the festive season in the town and said how much they enjoy it.
First on the show was Keith Chegwin back in 1998.  Others have included Toyah Wilcox, Chris Jarvis, Andrw Agnew, Gary Turner, Lucy Benjamin, Luke oberts, Anne Charleston, Chris Jarvis, Colin Baker, Derek Moran and Mark Rhodes and all appeared in the compilation show which was broadcast on HRB on Christmas Day.
Presenter Neil Ogden says “it has been a privilege to chat to everyone over the years.  We’ve had some great people come to The Anvil and the thing that has come across through talking to everyone is how much they have enjoyed coming to Basingstoke and The Anvil.”
The other thing that was mentioned quite a lot was the Tadley brooms.  Every year some of the cast switch the Christmas lights on in nearby Tadley and get given a boosm broom for their efforts.  These aren’t just any old brooms though.  The brooms made in Tadley appeared in the Harry Potter films and are used in the Royal palaces, and have proved a big talking point for those who get them!
During the Big Christmas Show, a family ticket is given away to a member of staff to go and see the panto at The Anvil, with the winner picked live on the air and then called back before the end of the show to be told of their win.  Some of those moments were included in the compilation show too.  The comeptition is run during the Great Christnas Cracker Dash where patients and staff pull Christmas crackers live on the air and get an instant request.  Staff can then be entered into the panto competition and there are competitions for patients too.  All of this is part of the annual five hour show that traditionally launches the HRB Christmas schedule. 

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