One of the true legends of Wigan Little Theatre is mourned

A much-loved veteran of countless Wigan Little Theatre productions was being mourned today.
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Bill Collins was a legendary panto dame, gifted actor and prolific scriptwriter.

The 83-year-old was responsible for creating Wigan’s traditional pantomimes for decades but also acted and directed in every type of stage drama there is, including comedies and murder mysteries.

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He was married in 1963 to Irene, who sadly passed away 10 years ago, leaving Bill, his son David, who with his wife Vanessa have two children, Joshua and Grace.

Bill Collins, writer of Wigan Little Theatre's pantomime 2002 production of Aladdin and playing Widow Twanky to bootBill Collins, writer of Wigan Little Theatre's pantomime 2002 production of Aladdin and playing Widow Twanky to boot
Bill Collins, writer of Wigan Little Theatre's pantomime 2002 production of Aladdin and playing Widow Twanky to boot
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Bill was delighted that Grace presented him with a granddaughter Bella almost two years ago, with whom he was besotted.

For his day job, Bill spent many years in the accounts department at Reeds Corrugated Cases and ended his long career working for a recruitment company.

Outside of work though his love for theatre kept him extremely busy, for many years at St John’s Pemberton and for almost 40 years at WLT.

Bill Collins (Hasler) and Christopher Jackson (Pres) in The Pajama Game in 2010Bill Collins (Hasler) and Christopher Jackson (Pres) in The Pajama Game in 2010
Bill Collins (Hasler) and Christopher Jackson (Pres) in The Pajama Game in 2010
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Bill’s stagecraft was legendary and in particular his love of panto shone through, with generations of Wiganers cutting their theatrical teeth by shouting “He’s behind you” to Bill’s very special interpretation of a classic panto dame.

Son David said; “Dad was a great and special dad and grandad, we were all very close.

"He was a great family man and since we arrived back in at the house to sort things out, we’ve discovered that every cupboard, drawer and shelf is full of photographs of the family and the great times we had together.’

WLT spokeswoman Anne Woolley: “Bill was a quiet and modest man, generous as a cast member and director, and he was loved by everyone.

Bill Collins when Wigan Little Theatre was honoured with a Queen's Award for Voluntary ServiceBill Collins when Wigan Little Theatre was honoured with a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service
Bill Collins when Wigan Little Theatre was honoured with a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service
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“He could always be relied upon to tell a tall tale, invent a ditty and entertain in any company. His humour was universal and totally wholesome.

“Our stage will not be the same without his presence, the bar will be a sadder place and he will be in the hearts of everyone whoever worked with him.

“Your legacy will be treasured Bill. Oh yes it will!”

Bill died on Tuesday May 27. Funeral arrangements have yet to be made.