Douglas Mounce was born on November 6, 1947 at Redruth. The family moved to Monks Park, Launceston and Douglas was educated at Pennygillam Secondary School.
In 1963, Douglas took up work in an Kittows estate agent’s accountancy department, where he stayed for 20 years. Outside work hours, he pursued performing ambitions forged by playing lead roles with the Launceston Amateur Dramatic Society (below) and took part in countless talent competitions.
In 1971, Douglas made his professional debut as a comedian and impressionist at the Hoe Theatre, Plymouth, with Cardew Robinson. He was signed by an agent and took a part in a production of Tavern in the Town the following year. Weeks of driving up from Cornwall to perform every night after his day job finally secured Douglas his Equity card.
After recording an interview with Charles Causley, the poet suggested Douglas send the piece to the BBC, which led to him being offered spots on regional radio. He subsequently presented the much-loved Treasure Hunt on Sundays after BBC Radio Devon was launched in 1983. He soon left the estate agents and was to remain with the station for 26 years.
Douglas’ radio profile allowed him to take on his first pantomime role – the Chinese Policeman in Aladdin at the Queen’s Hall in Barnstaple. He soon found himself appearing alongside his hero Roy Hudd in Mother Goose, an experience he described as “incredible”. It was Hudd who encouraged him to carry on developing his comedy skills, and the dame role in particular. Douglas went on to appear as dames in pantomimes including Cinderella, Mother Goose, Sleeping Beauty and Dick Whittington, alongside stars such as John Nettles, Bonnie Langford, Bernie Clifton, Colin Baker, Denise Welch and Ruth Madoc.
In 2011, Douglas won critical acclaim as the disillusioned pantomime dame Harold Thropp in the one-man touring play Twinkle Little Star. Other theatre work ranged from playing Araminta Dench in The Farmer’s Wife to a series of Agatha Christie thrillers and the musical Beauty and the Beast. In the West End, he compared Sunday Night Live at Her Majesty’s Theatre.
On TV, Douglas developed a portfolio of minor roles in shows including Jam and Jerusalem, Lark Rise to Candleford and seven Rosamunde Pilcher dramas for German television. His parallel radio career branched out to include appearances on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night. In 2006, he produced the Radio 4 documentary Under the Skin, about performers who appear as animals in pantomimes.
Douglas was also in demand as a presenter and compare, worked on cruise liners, as a warm-up for studio audiences and as the frontman for Music of the Night at the Royal Citadel in Plymouth. He also appeared in a number of corporate videos and television commercials. But theatre remained his abiding love. “I’ve always loved the stage,” he said. “I would still collect autographs now if I wasn’t too embarrassed to walk up to people. It was strange when people started asking me for mine.”
After battling cancer for over a year, Douglas died on April 21st, 2013 at the age of 65.