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So life has got a bit mad these last few days. After reportedly going viral with the news of being one of the first people in the world to achieve a Masters degree in Contemporary Pantomime, the legend that is the BBC Radio 2 star (and one of my radio heroes) Scott Mills reached out to me to discuss my story, talk about our careers and all things Panto on BBC Radio 2 – and to say this was a surreal moment and a career milestone is an understatement!

Listen back to the interview on my YouTube channel here

Read below the article Content Editor Daniel Clarke wrote for Plymouth Live on my story...

Plymouth man who went viral has 'surreal' moment with Scott Mills on BBC Radio 2 (By Daniel Clarke)

Jefferson Parlett, 31, has been encapsulated by the magic of pantomime since he was a child.

A Plymouth pantomime fanatic has spoken to his 'hero' in a "surreal" moment on BBC Radio 2 after becoming the first person to get a degree in Panto. Jefferson Parlett, 31, has been encapsulated by the magic of pantomime since he was a child.

He was invited on the day-time radio show after his story went viral. Jefferson explained how he was first introduced to the world of theatre as a result of seeing Dick Whittington at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth more than 20 years ago. After leaving drama school though, he noticed a lack of opportunities in the festive shows. He had appeared in shows on cruise ships and even on TV – but he struggled to be hired for any pantomimes without professional panto experience.

But as fate had it, he then spotted an article in an acting magazine The Stage highlighting a new course by Staffordshire University – a Masters in Contemporary Pantomime Practice. Jefferson jumped at the opportunity to apply – and he was quickly given a place on the course – and now has become the first person to get his degree.

He hasn't yet appeared in one apart from at university but would love to land a panto role next Christmas. And he now hopes that his degree means that he has a marketable presence for any directors wanting to hire him.

Speaking to Scott Mills, on the radio presenters BBC Radio 2 show on Tuesday, Jefferson said: “From as young as I can remember, I have always wanted to be an actor and my earliest memory of theatre was the pantomime at the Theatre Royal here in Plymouth. For a lot of kids, panto is the first thing and it was it for me. I would wait around backstage and speak to the actors and how they got involved and for them it was traditions inherited or passed down and there is no formal training. They told me that more often than not, they’d just have to learn on the job. There was no training – panto traditions were passed on or inherited.

“When I read The Stage newspaper and page two there was an advert for a masters in pantomime, I had to do it, it was fate. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is! I just had to jump on the bandwagon, was offered a place, and now I come out as a master of the arts of pantomime.”

During his time on the course, Jefferson learnt about the history of pantomime, as well as exploring ways in which the art has become more inclusive over time – and even created his own pantomime.

“Pantomime grew from the harlequin age and from clowning back in the Victorian age,” he said. “We also looked at contemporary manifestations – how pantomime has become more inclusive and how it’s representing multicultural Britain in productions today. For the final project, the university gave us a budget to write, produce and star in our own pantomime – we did Robinson Crusoe, which we set on a cruise ship. We called it Robinson Croeso, which is Welsh for ‘welcome’.”

Asked by Scott, who Jefferson said was his hero, what his dream role would be, he replied: “Honestly it would have to be buttons in Cinderella. The one who plays the games with the kids, has the interactions, and makes people feel good.

“The earliest I can remember is 2003, Dick Whittington, and Gary Wilmott played Dick, and he could look at the audience, pull a face, and they were putty in his hands, he just had it. The year after it was Brian Conley playing Buttons in Cinderella and I was mesmerised. I turned to my mum and dad and said this is what I want to do.”

Jefferson now hopes it will help him secure a place in a pantomime this winter. “It hasn’t really sunken in yet – it’s quite an honour!” he said. “I wish that young Jeff who wasn’t even getting seen for pantos could see me now – it’s like a fairytale come true! It’s led me into some negotiations for panto contracts – but nothing that I can reveal just yet though. As they say in Cinderella, keep dreaming and your dreams will come true!”

At the end of the interview, he added: "I must say, it is so surreal to speak to one of my radio heroes and the day has finally come".


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