Diary: Whitehall troupe sings a song of irreverence with a pocketful of wry

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.

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

information.



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.



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