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Saturday 28th February 2015

March 4, 2015

Saturday 28th February 2015


Memorable for being my Birthday, spent dressed as a lady, in a Church  having a very jolly time! We had a pretty amazing audience who were well up for fun, and a visit from Tommy Knapp and Dan to see the show.


Tommy is about to go on tour once again with an all male Gilbert & Sullivan, following on the success of last year’s HMS Pinafore which played theHackney Empire, Wimbledon and a UK Tour. Tommy will be returning to the BLMH later on this year.

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Had a lovely surprise when, at the end of the show the audience sang “Happy Birthday” and Vincent presented Dame Vera with a glorious bouquet and a very large chocolate cake on stage. Large to take the weight of all those candles perhaps?


This week has been a busy one- we did Three Lunchtime shows and Two Tea Matinees. Visiting groups included the Max Miller Society in from Brighton, and The West Mersey Bowls Club- who were a lot of fun!


Visiting that day was David Harvey. David has been Musical Director here at BLMH, and was the MD last year when I did “Dick Whittington” here. Lovely to catch up with him again.


I had two friends in to see the Lunchtime show this week- the two Davids – David Hartshorne’s relative was the finest Principal Boy of her time- Dorothy Ward. David has amassed a vast treasure trove of her photographs, documents and programmes which we hope to share here on IBY.  In the meantime our Articles section has a feature all about her- “Dorothy Ward & Sean Glenville”, a Pantomime Partnership!

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David was delighted to see Lottie as our Robin Hood- a Female “Boy” is a rare thing in pantomime these days, and he said how much Dorothy would have loved to see her here at Brick Lane! The boys and I had a few drinks at Canary Wharf afterwards, and we managed a selfie before they headed off back to Birmingham!

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Dorothy Ward

When I had a look at Trip Advisor the other day, and when talking to friends who have visited Brick Lane, the thing that is always mentioned and praised is how friendly the staff are, and how visitors feel welcomed from the moment they arrive.


Robert & Rusty

One very wet and windy lunchtime I witnessed the arrival of a few coaches to the Music Hall as I was heading for the Stage Door. The Staff are out in force from the moment the coaches park outside the gates of the venue. Anthony & Eleanor are there, in all weathers to greet their arrival, to sort out the parking for the drivers- Anthony assists the coach drivers to park in a nearby locked compound. Meanwhile  Robert and Oscar were standing ready with large umbrellas to escort and meet and greet our guests. Once inside there are more staff to take their coats, sort out a warming tea or coffee, or something a little stronger, and show them to their allotted tables- then the waiting staff take over- it really is a well oiled and welcoming exercise from start to finish!

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This week something went wrong in the Blackwall tunnel, and on the main roads leading from South of the River- the first indication was when Vincent got a call from Paul (James). He was stuck in traffic that was going nowhere due to the incident- and was worried he wouldn’t make it on time for the 2.30pm start of the show. He wasn’t alone- a coach of fifty guests was in the same situation. They had set off from Folkestone  at 9.30am making various pick ups en route, and finally arrived here at the Music Hall at 2.30pm! Nearly five hours to do a journey that should have taken them less than two hours!


Paul flew in at about 2.20pm, and was ready a few minutes later- the coach arrived and Vincent extended his opening routine to ensure they were welcomed and seated before we got underway about twenty minutes late.


Mine was not the only Birthday this week- having just celebrated Brick Lane Music Hall’s twenty-Third Birthday last week, now it was the turn of the founder and mainstay of the Music Hall to celebrate his- Vincent Hayes celebrated his birthday in style on March 1st alongside his family, his mates and a few of Variety and Music Hall’s Royalty!


A cake fit for a Crown Clown Jester! Vincent’sBirthday Cake!

Lovely to see Roy Hudd and his wife Debbie (Flitcroft) along with Roger Foss, Bryan Burden and his wife Andi, Peter John  and the amazing star that is Craig Douglas having a great time.


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Bryan Burdon- you can find him at

Bryan Burdon. Bryan held court for twenty five years at the Theatre Royal Windsor as Dame in pantomimes there, often performing in front of your actual Royals!

One season he did starring alongside Ernie Wise had a memorable “Haunted Bedroom” scene in it. Preserved for posterity, it can be seen on this handy “youtube” link!


Bryan’s Dad, Albert Burdon was a huge star- here’s what a fellow artiste said about Father and son:

Albert Burdon did, among other things) a cod illusionist act – he called ‘volunteers’ from the audience, who were actually part of the act – one was a Teddy Boy who thought it was his chance to be discovered as a singer, I remember. This part was played by Albert’s son Bryan (still working – a pantomime regular at the Windsor Theatre Royal). I worked with Bryan on R&R tours in the early 60s, and he could still do the physical comedy – I remember him showing me how he could fall off the top of a wardrobe, which startled the landlady somewhat … Albert’s magic cabinet act finished with the cabinet spinning, and the volunteers hanging on to it, apparently horizontal owing to the speed of the spin. Naturally it was actually a feat of strength.

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Here’s a picture of Bryan at Windsor with Ernie Wise, and the Queen Of Hearts at London’s Lyceum Theatre starring his Dad, Albert.

Bryan went on a few years later to appear in “Cinderella” with his father as Ugly Sister. This was again at the Theatre Royal Newcastle

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Roger Foss– Actor, Author and Broadcaster, Theatre Critic and a follower of this website! Lovely to see Roger again. One of  his recent books is called “ May The Farce Be With You”- his views on comedy and farce in particular with an interview with Ray Cooney. I went home and ordered it from Amazon, and it is a great read- here’s the link if you fancy seeing how farce is created, and why it is so specialised!

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A delight, as always to meet up with Roy and Debbie Hudd. Hard to believe it was 39 years ago that I was support act to Roy in Butlin’s “Midnight Cabaret” at Filey! I was working the Summer Variety Season for Bill Dickie appearing with Gordon & Bunny Jay, and twice a week we would be on “Midnight” duty to the likes of Dukes & Lee, or Roger DeCourcey, or frequently Roy Hudd!

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While Sherrie (Hewson) and I were in Hull Panto this year we got to talking about “Danny At The Palace”- the show that Danny La Rue starred in for two years in London’s West End, alongside Roy Hudd, Joe Black, Toni Palmer and David Ellen. I saw it several times. Sherrie saw it VERY many times, as at that time she was in RADA as a student, and worked as a theatre Usher at the Palace Theatre, watching the show night after night!

Roy appeared as Max Miller, and in a George Formby Spot- all pure Music Hall, and took part in a Western Saloon Bar sketch with Dan and Toni Palmer. It was sheer joy.Since then Roy has starred in Music Hall, Variety, in “The News Huddlines” for many many seasons for BBC Radio,  alongside June Whitfield and Chris Emmett, in “Underneath The Arches”, in Shakespeare, In Straight Plays and Farces, in “Coronation Street” and of course in Pantomimes! His “Babes In the Wood” alongside Geoffrey Hughes, Jack Tripp and Keith Baron was a masterclass in the art of Pantomime. Long may he reign!


Craig Douglas- What a huge star from his career from the 1950’s & ‘60’s through to today. I had the pleasure of being in a show, along with Peter Robbins with Craig Douglas topping the bill when Vincent organised a very lavish cabaret for “Fairheads”Department store in Ilford a few years back. It celebrated 100 years of trading, and Vincent provided a Music Hall Themed night for the staff and Management.

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For his Birthday Craig sang “Only Sixteen”  at Vincent’s request- He had a number one hit with this in 1959. Craig had nine records in the Top 40 singles Charts, and was in the Top Ten Hit Parade four times with recordings for Decca, Top Rank and Columbia (EMI) Records.


In 1961 he was the UK entry in “A Song For Europe”- this amazing man topped the bill with the Beatles supporting him in their first major stage show! Hits include “Pretty Blue Eyes”, “A Teenager In Love” (which Marty Wilde also recorded, and “Oh Lonesome Me”.

A huge joy to hear him sing once again, and  a night of party pieces and fun!

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