well, oh no they’re not.

For a tribute to the greats of Scotland’s favourite form of theatre will be tickling crowds across the country this winter with a touring exhibition.

The line-up reads like a perfect showbill of Scottish pantomime greats, including Stanley Baxter’s grand dame, Harry Gordon’s washerwoman and the heroic Jack Anthony.

From its Victorian origins right up to the present day, the fortunes of pantomime will be charted by photographs, film reel and sound recordings collected from across the nation.

Baxter said he welcomed the exhibition. “Lewis Casson was absolutely right – pantomime is the national theatre of Scotland. Pantomime was always very close to my heart and I loved it from a very early age,” he said.

“I saw Tommy Lorne when I was almost too young to remember it – almost, but not quite. It was a joy to be involved in pantomime for so much of my career and I wish this exhibition all possible success.”

The promoters say the exhibition is a unique opportunity to capture memories of a golden age of Scottish pantomime and to document the many community pantomimes that take place across Scotland.

The trip down memory lane will include rarely seen film footage from theatres in Edinburgh and Glasgow in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Old pictures and audio have been taken from Glasgow University Library’s archive and the personal collections of performers, producers and audience members.

Adrienne Scullion, head of theatre studies at the university, said the exhibition was a “fantastic opportunity” to celebrate musical comedy in Scotland.

“From recording the memories of pantomime audiences and performers, we know that pantomime has a special place in the lives of Scottish audiences and that it has always had an important role in Scotland’s theatre industry,” he said.

“This exhibition is a great way for us to acknowledge the significance of pantomime in Scotland and to recognise its contribution to Scotland’s cultural life.”

Many of the films were shot during dress rehearsals from unusual vantage points such as the wings, the lighting rig, on-stage among the performers or backstage in dressing rooms.

The exhibition draws on work from a three-year research project, which began in October 2007, entitled Pantomime in Scotland: Your other national theatre.

The aim was to explore and celebrate all aspects of pantomime in Scotland and it included a survey of the country’s professional and community-based pantomimes.

History of a national institution

A pantomimos in Ancient Greece was originally a group who imitated people with a musical accompaniment, often played on the flute.

The pantomime first arrived in Britain in the late 17th century as an amusing distraction between operas.

In the 1870s the Drury Lane Theatre in London was the first to stage a modern-style panto with its performance of Jack the Giant Killer.

The celebrity guest star was first introduced by Drury Lane’s owner Augustus Harris, now considered to be the father of modern pantomime.

Classic pantos Aladdin and Cinderella were both first performed around 1900.

Productions have competed with each other since 1900, becoming increasingly elaborate, spectacular and outrageous.