Sally Mais: Chris Hayward

Work / Photography

Glorious backstage photographs of pantomime dames by Sally Mais

From a young age I’ve avoided any bright, loud spectacle involving comedy and audience participation. I fear the all-encompassing bellow, the communal haw-haw that chills me to my cold core as all around me laugh their heads off. Pantomimes, then, aren’t exactly my thing. Backstage photographs of pantomime dames, however, definitely are.

With a nice pun and po-mo spin on the usual lords a-leaping and ladies dancing, photographer Sally Mais’ glorious series The 12 Dames of Christmas documents pantomime dames from across the land as they beautify themselves backstage. These intimate behind-the-scenes shots of ruby glitter pouts, giant chicken fillets and thick blue eyebrows are, of course, a lovely celebration of a great British tradition. Thankfully for me, there’s also a glimpse of the sad clown lurking behind their frozen make-up.


Sally Mais: Nigel Ellacott


Sally Mais: Allan Stewart


Sally Mais: Steve Elias 2


Sally Mais: Graham Hoadly


Sally Mais: Iain Lauchlan


Sally Mais: Leon Craig