Society, Politics & Law

Look out there’s a banker behind you!

Updated Wednesday 17th December 2008

Richard Skellington predicts that bankers will be cast as the villain in pantomimes this Christmas

As Christmas approaches Dick Skellington heralds the first panto season since the banking crisis.

I say, I say, I say. Latest news, the Isle of Dogs Building Society has collapsed. They've called in the retrievers.

Have you heard this one? A masked man holds a bank cashier up with a gun. He says: 'I don't want any money - I just want you to start lending to each other’.

Boo-boom!

Sorry, it’s the way I tell ‘em. Let’s start again.

A pantomime dame from Crowthorne Amateur Dramatic Society Creative commons image Icon sleepymyf under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative-Commons license
The dame from Crowthorne's 2008 Dick Turpin Rides Again panto

What have Captain Hook, the Wicked Fairy, Cinderella’s stepmother, the Evil Baron, King Rat, the Evil Wizard, the Giant, the Sheriff of Nottingham, and the Wicked Queen got in common? This Christmas, whatever your panto and wherever it is in the land, the villain is more likely to be portrayed as a banker. Let’s hear it for the Lehman Brothers as the Ugly Sisters. Just think of poor little Goldilocks lost in the Bear Market being pursued by three nasty brokers! And think of poor Puss trying to pay those prices in Boots! Don’t forget to boo and hiss!

This Christmas it will be the banker who will be lurking menacingly behind the principal boy who will be played by a vulnerable single parent recently evicted for falling behind with her mortgage.

So when Dick Whittington pops onto stage left with Tommy the Cat at his feet, Dick is more likely to ask the audience:

What’s the difference between a merchant banker and a pigeon?
A pigeon can still make a deposit on a BMW.

And then, not to be outdone, up purrs Tommy with this one to the Gods:

What’s the difference between an investment banker and a large pizza?
A large pizza can feed a family of four.

Boo-boom!

How we’ll all cheer when master villain King Rat gets utterly custard pied by Tommy the cat and Dick gets a tracker mortgage with a Bank of England interest rate and returns home to marry Alice and live happily ever after in a nice semi in Sidcup.

For this year it’s the bankers who will be getting the slap and stick. So let’s hear the cheering throughout the land. Rejoice. Whatever the panto you can cajole your kids into heckling: ‘come on you bankers pass the interest rate cuts on to me mum and dad!’. This year’s panto season promises to be a hoot. I mean who would want to trade places with the head banker at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)? I can just imagine the chorus singing ‘I’m a Banker, Get Me Out of Here!’.

No really. There is nothing more likely to get us chuckling in the Gods than the bankers getting their comeuppance. The suffering proletariat have had it so bad. We need a little bit of festive humour to roll back the impact of the credit crunch with its rising mortgage debt, repossessions soaring 70 per cent compared to the same quarter last year, the lowest pound since 1992, and with unemployment expected to top 3 million before the next panto season.

To the nation this parsimony sums up the public image of an already discredited menagerie of fat cats. Since the bail-outs the banks have done little to improve their stock by helping those whose money – what’s left of it – keeps them in offshore accounts and Christmas parties.

Politicians too can expect a panto drubbing after allowing banks to profit enormously in a deregulated culture for so many years, and lending poor Red Riding Hood a 130 per cent mortgage. It is not for nothing the phrase 'Houses of Parliament' is an anagram of 'shameful operations'!

At the King’s Head in London, Dick Whittington’s nemesis King Rat is a banker and property developer intent on bringing the economy of the paradise island of Gran Canaria to its knees. The audience will wince as the shameless speculator greedily buys up property, lends money to local businesses and causes havoc when he calls in the loans and buys the island’s central bank. On the way he evicts the show’s Dame from her bar and sells off the premises as luxury flats. Now where have we heard that one before?

It is hardly surprising this festive season will witness pantomimes all over the country revising their storylines and casting the evil villain as a banker, updating daily as the credit crunch unfolds. Since ancient Greek and Roman times panto script writers have had a keen eye for contemporary events. Pantomimes have always told morality tales. And who can blame the script writers with the banks so reluctant to pass on any good news as they use Government bail outs to restructure their own finances with little thought for the rest of us. Never has A Christmas Carol been more relevant. Scrooge is so 2008.

Here’s Dick again:

Talked to my bank manager the other day and he said he was going to concentrate on the big issues from now on.
He sold me one outside KFC yesterday.

The Gods groan in disapproval.

But Tommy the Cat soon wins them over with a real Christmas cracker!

What’s the capital of Iceland? shouts Tommy!

About £3.50.

But should your panto fail to cheer this Christmas remember the old saying:

What’s the definition of optimism?
A banker who irons 5 shirts on a Sunday.

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

Discuss: The struggle of the working class Creative commons image Icon Photo by Kaihsu Tai / CC BY-SA 3.0 under Creative-Commons license activity icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Discuss: The struggle of the working class

What do you think about the struggles faced by the working class? Fill in our short survey and share your thoughts and memories.

Activity
More than a game? Creative commons image Icon Rüdiger Wölk under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

Society, Politics & Law 

More than a game?

The film, "More Than Just a Game", about how jailed African National Congress leaders used the discipline of football to survive the trauma of imprisonment on Robben Island, demonstrates just how powerful sport can be.

Article
Strange job: being Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest reigning monarch Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: Public Domain article icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Strange job: being Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest reigning monarch

Queen Elizabeth II has become Britain's longest-reigning monarch. So how has she managed to keep her job for so long?

Article
Joke Booth Jokes Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission video icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Joke Booth Jokes

 Watch some of the jokes told for Lenny's Britain - and explore their more serious side.

Video
5 mins
Would Ruskin YouTube? Crafting and communities Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: Public domain article icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Would Ruskin YouTube? Crafting and communities

Would John Ruskin see YouTube as a modern version of a cathedral gargoyle? Laurie Taylor and guests discuss craft and community.

Article
Tumble And Twirl: David Bowie and gender transgression Creative commons image Icon Jerome Coppee under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license article icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Tumble And Twirl: David Bowie and gender transgression

Throughout his career, David Bowie has pushed at the edges and limits of the gender binary. Lisa Perrott offers a brief guide.

Article
Reading evidence Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission free course icon Level 1 icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Reading evidence

What is active reading? It is reading with the aim of understanding and grasping something. While studying this free course, Reading evidence, you will be focusing on the variety of methods for presenting and organising qualitative and quantitative evidence in the form of numbers and text. You will learn how to understand the ways in which evidence is presented and to read it actively and with purpose.

Free course
12 hrs

Society, Politics & Law 

International Relations

What are the prospects for cooperation or cooperation in the international system? Will states always be primarily concerned with their own security or is progressive change possible in international politics? Does it matter to international politics if states are democratic or not? And what is the importance of economic change, or gender relations to international politics? In the following seven films, some of the world's leading experts on international relations explore what determines how states and their agents behave in a globalised world and the different theories and analyses that have been developed to make sense of today's international system.

Video
1 hr 15 mins
Ludlow: the loveliest town in England? Creative commons image Icon By RachelC via Flickr under Creative Commons license under Creative-Commons license article icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Ludlow: the loveliest town in England?

Gifted a beauty from its prosperous past, Ludlow must now find a future that recognises it as more than a museum piece.

Article