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BMHS 60th Birthday Show – Thursday 21st September 2023

Tickets are now available to book for our 60th Birthday Show on Thursday 21st September 2023 at 7pm. This will be held at the Phoenix Arts Club, One Phoenix Street, London WC2 right in the heart of London’s West End. You can book your tickets via their website here.

We are delighted that Britain’s Got Talent winner Jon Courtenay will be topping the bill.

Music Hall and Variety Day 2023 – Tuesday 16th May – #MHVD2023 #musichallvarietyday

It’s back for a fourth year!

Music Hall & Variety Day was introduced by the British Music Hall Society in 2020. It is an opportunity for theatre collections and collectors, performers, theatres and theatre historians to celebrate Music Hall and Variety theatre. The day is celebrated annually and marks the birth date of Roy Hudd, who was President of the Society for 28 years until his death in 2020. Music Hall and Variety fans are encouraged to post photographs on social media of personal artefacts, stories and memories of the genre using the hashtags #musichallvarietyday #MHVD2023. The more who join in and use the ## might lead to #MusicHallVarietyDay trending on social media. Wouldn’t that be something?

During the course of the day, there will be an excellent online talk at 2pm by Dr Billy Rough – you can book via Ticketsource here.

The Courier wrote an excellent article about Dundee and the talk which you can read here:

BMHS Conference 2023 – Call for Papers

British Music Hall Society Conference, Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th October 2023 

“How the Music Hall Worked, 1840 – 1918” CALL FOR PAPERS

The first British Music Hall Society conference will take place at the Cinema Museum in Kennington, London, over the last weekend in October 2023. It will look at ‘How the Music Hall Worked 1840 – 1918’ with a particular emphasis this year on the Speciality Act and Music Hall, Families and Children, and Agents and Circuits (including continental ones).

We invite proposals for talks (20 minutes plus 10 for questions) on subjects related to the theme.  We particularly welcome proposals that go beyond a simple biographical account, but look instead at a wider picture, for example comparing the work or experience of several families. 

We also invite proposals of short PowerPoint presentations – no longer than 6 minutes and 20 seconds, accompanied by up to 20 slides (20 seconds talking per image) – to contribute towards an hour of eight short presentations. Biographical accounts are welcome.

The British Music Hall Society is not an academic institution so presentations should be worded to appeal to a general audience rather than an exclusively academic one.

Ideally, talks will be given in-person, though consideration will be given to virtual presentations (for example, to avoid carbon emissions from long-distance travel). 

The conference will also feature panel discussions, early film of acts, and exhibitions (proposals of items to exhibit are welcome) and a local walk. The wonderfully atmospheric Cinema Museum (formerly the Lambeth Workhouse, where Charlie Chaplin was once a resident) is in an area where many music hall performers lived, many agents had their offices and where the first grand music hall and the first circus were established. 

How to submit a proposal:

Please send a short paragraph about the subject of your proposed presentation to the email below. 

Also include a short biography (up to 100 words), your mobile phone number, and any audio-visual requirements you will need beyond a microphone and lectern. For example, do you plan to display images or a PowerPoint presentation?  Will you need to play video or music during parts of your presentation?

Proposals should be emailed to: 

Deadline for submission: 30th April 2023 though we invite expressions of interest to be made as early as possible, and are happy to discuss your ideas.  Please consider submitting your proposal soon! Whilst we would like to accommodate all proposals, our focus is on curating a range of presentations that, together, will give a good coverage of the key topics.

The Future We hope that this will be the first in a series of potentially annual conferences, each looking at particular aspects of Music Hall. We welcome suggestions of venues, topics and presentations for future years.

The Roy Huddlines: Sunday 14th May 2023

Come along and celebrate the life of our former President Roy Hudd at the Sondheim Theatre at 5pm on Sunday 14th May 2023 in a one-off ‘News Huddlines’ reuniting some of the original cast members including Chris Emmett and Alison Steadman.

Tickets and further information can be found here.

Day by the Sea 2023

Royal Hippodrome Theatre, Eastbourne
Saturday 3rd June 2023
10.30am – 6.15pm A full day of music hall, variety, comedy, song, mind reading, ventriloquism, archive film clips and interviews.

Booking for BMHS members opens on Monday 30th January 2023. A booking form was included in the winter edition of The Call Boy. Tickets go on general sale on Monday 6th March 2023.

Tickets: £32.

The theatre’s box office telephone number is 01323 802020 or you can book online here.

Artistes appearing include Bernie Clifton, Hilary O’NeilMax FulhamAndy EastwoodMatt Daniel-Baker, Peter John, Richard Gauntlett, Philip Day, Michelle Grant, Jane Horn, Kevin Gauntlett, The cast of the Hippodrome’s 2023 summer show, Don’t Stop The Music, Carol Anne Wells and Laurence Payne.

Sadly, Dame Maureen Lipman has had to pull out as she will be appearing in London during May and June in her one-woman play Rose. However, we are delighted that Susie Blake will be joining us that day, chatting about her long career which includes working with Frankie Howerd, Russ Abbot, Victoria Wood and Roy Hudd; appearances on Coronation Street and Mrs Brown’s Boys; and stage roles in Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em with Joe Pasquale; When We Are Married and Wicked. Susie is currently touring in the Agatha Christie play The Mirror Crack’d playing the leading role of Miss Marple. 

Annual General Meeting – 26th March 2023

British Music Hall Society
Sunday 26th March 2023 2.30pm


will take place on

Sunday 26th March 2023 at 2.30pm

at the Water Rats, 328 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8BZ 

Hear what the Society has achieved in the past year, plans for the future and vote for your future Committee. Once the business side of the AGM is dealt with, there will be tea, coffee and biscuits and a chance to meet fellow members of the Society.

Join us for a pre-AGM lunch at the Water Rats at 12.30pm, with two courses available for £20. If you would like to have lunch with us beforehand, please contact Dean Caston by email and select from the following menu choices:


Roast Chicken served with Roast Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables & Gravy

Roast Beef served with Roast Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables & Gravy

Vegetarian option  


Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Lemon Posset

We look forward to seeing you there.

In the Limelight: Stephen Bourne on Black Performers in Music Hall, Thursday 23rd February 2023

Award-winning author and broadcaster Stephen Bourne will give an engaging and informative illustrated talk about some of the trailblazing black women entertainers who starred in Britain’s music halls from the 1880s to the 1930s. These will include Amy Height, Mabel Mercer, Elisabeth Welch and Adelaide Hall. Bourne befriended Welch and Hall in the 1980s and will share some personal anecdotes about these legends as well as rare photos from his personal archive.

Venue: The Water Rats, 328 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8BZ.

Time: 7.30pm

Book now
Elisabeth Welch from Stephen Bourne’s collection.

In the Limelight: Peter Charlton on Jay Laurier, Thursday 19th January 2023

Peter Charlton will tell the story of Jay Laurier from red-nose comic to Shakespearian knight with some silly songs joined together with Nine Inch Nails. Peter will be accompanied by Stephen Lethbridge at the keyboard.

Venue: The Water Rats, 328 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8BZ.

Time: 7.30pm

Book tickets here.

Jay Laurier. Image from the British Music Hall Society Archive

PETER CHARLTON trained at The Northern Theatre School, Bradford. His professional debut was in 1954 in “The Housemaster” with The Castle Players at the Grand Theatre Lancaster, alongside Frank Finlay and David Pugh.  After touring with the Northern Childrens’ Theatre, a season with the 1957 York Mystery Plays (where Judi Dench made her debut) and a few weeks with York Rep, he went off to do National Service, mainly with NATO in France.  On demob Peter spent some years with various repertory companies, tours, puppets  and the occasional variety show ending up at the Prince of Wales in London with Max Bygraves.  There followed a long spell with BBC TV, most of it writing and directing childrens’ television programmes.  Music Hall sort of crept in one day and refused to go away starting with Professor Alexander’s Vintage Music Hall and including the Players Theatre, the Bee & Bustle Music Hall and a tour of East Coast America.  Passionately interested in the history of Music Hall, Peter is currently one of the Historians of the British Music Hall Society.

‘Under the Arches’ Music Hall Show, Charing Cross Theatre, Sunday 29th January 2023, 2pm and 7.30pm

Tickets can be booked here

The Funniest Man in London – Wednesday 11th January 2023, 7.30pm

A lecture by BMHS member Anthony Binns with a slide show presentation on the life of H.G. Pélissier, music hall and concert party entertainer and founder of The Follies at Highgate Society on January 11th 2023. Tickets available here 

The talk is based on the newly-published biography of H.G. Pélissier, entitled The Funniest Man in London, now Times newspaper critic Quentin Letts’ ‘Book of the Year’ and available for purchase from all good bookshops, Amazon and from The-Funniest-Man-in-London| Pélissier’s Follies (

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