A pantomime dame is a traditional role in British pantomime. It is part of the theatrical tradition of travesti portrayal of female characters by male actors in drag. Dame characters are often played either in an extremely camp style, or else by men acting butch in women's clothing. They usually wear heavy make up and big hair, have exaggerated physical features, and perform in an over-the-top style.
Characters who are played as pantomime dames are often, though not exclusively, older, matronly women. They may be the protagonist's mother, as in Jack and the Beanstalk and Robinson Crusoe, or a nursemaid to the protagonist, as in Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. Although often warm and sympathetic characters, dames may also be employed as comic antagonists, such as with the Ugly Sisters in Cinderella. Although some pantomimes traditionally do not contain standard dame roles, certain productions of those stories add a dame character, for example, in many versions of Peter Pan. Other examples of dame characters include: