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News & Blog > News > Making and Keeping Memories > The Search for Plan B: IDS Panto 2021

The Search for Plan B: IDS Panto 2021

Watch the IDS Panto 2021 online now, featuring the 1% and IDS
Full group selfie, photo credit: Arunima Sharan
Full group selfie, photo credit: Arunima Sharan

The pantomime genre is a strange one, especially if you weren’t brought up in Britain. They are loud, fun and enjoyable musical comedy theatre productions, and are a show like no other.

Pantomime literally means ‘all kinds of mime’ and its generally agreed that it is based on the early masques (or Commedia dell Arte) of the Elizabethan and Stewart days. In the 14th century masques were musical mimes or spoken dramas performed in grand houses, although by the 17th century they were no more than an excuse for a good party.

How old is the IDS panto tradition? A matter of contention for Mick Moore, who has thoroughly researched the records of IDS closely to discover that design of rooms 120/121 was deliberately the same size as a classic Pantomime stage and that civil servants from around the world would have their learning significantly improved by the great British tradition of Panto. Richard Jolly maintains that the first IDS panto happened in 1973 (editor: have these facts been checked?).  Whatever the history we certainly continue to have essentials, for it to be panto:

  • Audience participation is essential (oh yes it is!),
  • As is some slapstick comedy,
  • A guaranteed happy ending where love must conquer all and everyone lives happily ever after
  • And it’s not an IDS panto without a joke about clogged bathrooms, fish and chips on Friday, and at least one reference to Robert Chambers or Richard Jolly.


The Search for Plan B 


As Scotland brought together world leaders for this years COP26, it seemed like a fitting plot line for this year’s panto.

Follow IDS students and colleagues as they bring the satirical humor of the 1% and their creation of a secret Planet B over Plan B.

Featuring Jeff Besos, Melon Husk, dance offs, musical numbers and many, many laughs!

See the history of the IDS Pantomime from 1973-2015

Email us if you have any photos of your own to share at

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