Pantomime Dame Dies During Show

An amateur dramatic group has said the show must go on after their pantomime dame collapsed and died from a heart attack during a performance of Dick Whittington in Hampshire.

Bev Smith, 70, suffered the attack while appearing at Curdridge, near Winchester, on Monday.

He had the audience "in the palm of his hand'' during the first scene and was about to go on again when he died, Curdridge Amateur Dramatic Group secretary Geoff Appleby said.

"His was the first performance - a solo - where he was ad-libbing and throwing sweets out to the kids,'' Mr Appleby said.

"He came off stage to huge applause and he had the audience in the palm of his hand - he did it superbly well.

"At his next entrance I was in front of him and as he was climbing on to the wings he collapsed. I thought he had just tripped and then fell into the curtain and I said, 'get up you fool', but he was not moving.''

The 80-strong audience was asked if there was a doctor in the house and one came forward who tried to save the married father-of-three.

The performance was cancelled as the cast of 30, including children, realised it could not go on.

Mr Appleby, who plays the Alderman, said further performances will take place in memory of Mr Smith.

"We have spoken to his family and the family said we should go on as they felt it was what Bev would have wanted.

"He was a man of many parts and a lovely man who was extremely well respected, but above all he was a family man,'' Mr Appleby added.

Mr Smith was a former newsreader on Associated TV in Birmingham and later a producer at TVS in Southampton before setting up his own production company.