THIS WEEK IN 1973: Gosport family presents their charming little pantomime stars

Mrs Stafford, her husband Stan and son Ian pictured during rehersal
Mrs Stafford, her husband Stan and son Ian pictured during rehersal
The Coronation all lit up. A passing trolleybus gives it some scale.

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The 29 members of the cast of Gosport’s longest running pantomime had one thing in common – they all stood two-and-a-half inches tall in their socks.

For the panto ‘Aladdin’, which was produced from the home of Mr and Mrs Stafford for the previous 18 months, featured a number of tiny wooden dolls.

It was, in short, a Dolls’ Theatre, enacted on a replica of the real thing, with spotlights, moving curtains, shifting scenery, special effects – everything adjusted and fined down to scale.

Mr Stafford first built the theatre after reading an article in a handicrafts magazine.

But after the birth of the couples son Ian, 16, the theatre had to be put aside.

Ian was found to be partially deaf and in their concern to help him with his disability they found little time to devote to their hobbies.

Then Mr Stafford realised that Ian, who had since left school, might have been able to learn something from the theatre.

He rebuilt it from scratch and taught Ian to operate the lighting switchboard and taped sound tracks.

Each production took six months to prepare and the finished show was presented by the Staffords in their home.