These girls danced their way back into Oxford’s Christmas pantomime.

The team, from the Vera Legge Dancing School, were doubly thrilled to be picked for a glittering production of Dick Whittington with TV star Cilla Black at the Apollo Theatre in 1984.

The previous year, they had been pipped to the pantomime by a group of dancers from Swindon – the first time in 48 years that the Vera Legge School hadn’t provided youngsters for the show.

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Dance teacher Diana Brown said at the time: “The children were very disappointed last year because it’s something they look forward to, but they’re very pleased to be back.”

Oxford Mail:

Cilla Black

The girls, pictured left to right, were Clara Brown, nine, Michelle McCann, 13, Victoria Cox, nine, Sarah Fellows, 10, Tracy Burns, 14, Debbie Surrage, 11, Suzanne Bryan, 10, Helen Colley, nine, Kalypso Koumi, nine, Sarah Rodgers, 10, and Ashleigh Eaton, 12.

They had just a week to polish their routines before the show opened on Boxing Day but they were no strangers to the stage.

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Some of them had already appeared in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and the Vienna Festival Ballet’s Nutcracker in Oxford earlier in the year. The decision to drop the Vera Legge dancers from the 1983 pantomime, Robinson Crusoe, starring Norman Wisdom, caused outrage.

Oxford Mail:

Comedian Norman Wisdom

Mums wrote to the Oxford Mail claiming their daughters had been cheated but theatrical agent Freddie Davies insisted the Swindon team had been chosen on merit.

The Swindon girls may have regretted their decision. They had to travel from their home town, six days a week for five weeks.