As panto stars throughout the kingdom hang up their tights for
another year, I hear that Whitehall’s own variety troupe is still
gearing up for its first performance of the season.
’Deskforce’, a six-strong band of past and present information chiefs,
is not planning to tread the boards until around 1 April when, with
their masters likely to be preoccupied practising their own lines,
they’ll have a bit of time on their hands.
The sketch will feature such talents as Romola Christopherson, the
Department of Health’s droll press and publicity director and Ron
Fosker, the Overseas Development Administration’s deputy head of
The as-yet unfinished piece seems unlikely to be the most reverent of
sketches: one lyric belted out by the players, and inspired by the pop
song ’It ain’t necessarily so’ will, I hear, be the refrain ’What party
headquarters, puts out to reporters, it ain’t necessarily so ...’
It will be the first major curtain call for Deskforce, which owes its
name to the Falklands’ Taskforce, since a memorable panto a few years
back. That skit, also penned by Christopherson, featured the age-old
battle between good and evil.
Written at the time of Margaret Thatcher’s efficiency blitz on
Whitehall, it pitted a roll-call of characters - from Aladdin to
Cinderella - fighting against the Thatcher axe, after that formidable
dame decreed the abolition of the panto because too many people were
wasting time having fun.
Good to see that, despite the fall of the wicked witch, the mandarins
are still living happily ever after.