Alex Salmond a panto villain? Oh yes, he is…
Along with disgraced banker Fred Goodwin, golf course billionaire Donald Trump and bankrupt store Woolworths, Scotland's First Minister is the butt of the jokes at this year's Christmas pantomimes.
The cutting satire of the country's top shows is proving a hit with audiences this year, with theatres reporting booming ticket sales as people would rather laugh than cry at the actions of the Government, the turmoil of the banks and the collapse of the housing market.
At the Tron Theatre in Glasgow, evil landlord "Alexander Salamander" is stealing the Scottish-themed show called Mother Bruce, a play on the children's fairytale Mother Goose.
Salmond, sorry Salamander, is defined by his love of all things tartan, his long-winded and predictable songs, the bullying tactics he uses to extort money from his tenants and his self-important swagger.
Salamander is guided through the production by his garden gnome sidekick Larry the Leprechaun from Limerick, loosely based on Salmond's spin doctors, according to the writers of the show.
Director and co-writer Gordon Dougall said: "Politicians have only really made it once they get mentioned in panto or parodied in radio satire shows, so we are paying him a compliment."
Dougall said he hoped the First Minister would come to a performance. He said: "I think he would love it. He would get to the point of thinking this is a madcap left-field view of me being Scottish and incredibly tartan."
Kevin Pringle, spokesman for the First Minister, said: "The First Minister is a big panto fan – oh yes he is! – and went to see Jack And The Beanstalk at the Dalrymple Arts Centre in Fraserburgh. Good luck to Mother Bruce and all the other pantos round Scotland.
"There better be no shouting 'he's behind you' when Alexander Salamander is on stage, as in real life the First Minister is always out in front!"
Other pantomimes around Scotland have also used current affairs to liven up performances. At Edinburgh's King's Theatre, the story of Aladdin is embellished with jokes about the failing banks which cannot deal with Aladdin's riches, and the capital's disastrous tram works which the evil wizard Abanaza threatens to extend by a decade.
The Royal Bank of Scotland's former chief executive, Sir Fred, gets the biggest roar at Glasgow's Oran Mor, when the Babes In The Wood actors describe how he has "got away with so many millions of our pounds".
The Aberdeen Arts Centre's production of Robin Hood sends up Donald Trump when the Sheriff of Nottingham hatches an evil plan to turn Sherwood Forest into a golf course.
And at Dundee's Whitehall Theatre, Jack is given 5,000 gold pieces and decides to buy Woolworths, but he does not know what to buy with the other 4,999 pieces of gold.
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