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Archive for the month “November, 2015”

The Good Old Days – A Second show


BBC 4 is repeating a second edition of the much loved variety series, The Good Old Days. The first show will be televised on December 4th as stated in an earlier Stage Door Johnny blog. The second show will be screened a week later on Friday 11th December at 7.30pm and will star Frankie Vaughan, Bernie Clifton, Sheila White, The Kings Singers, Jan Hunt and our own BMHS Chairman Doreen Hermitage.


The Good Old Days on BBC4




BBC4 is repeating an edition of the much loved music hall show, The Good Old Days on Friday 4th December at 7.30pm. Recorded in 1976 at the City Varieties theatre in Leeds, Leonard Sachs, the Chairman introduces Les Dawson, Peggy Mount, Larry Parker, Jeannie Harris, Chantal and Dumont, The Jan Madd Magic Show and the Players Theatre Company with choreography by our Chairman Doreen Hermitage.

The Great Grimaldi

Music Hall and Variety on BBC4


In this thought-provoking series for BBC Four, comedian Frank Skinner and music broadcaster and presenter Suzy Klein explore the history of British popular entertainment in the 100 years before the arrival of television.

From the music halls of the Victorian age to the variety theatres of the 20th century, they uncover what kept us entertained through technological advances, two world wars, and an ‘American Invasion’.

In each episode Frank and Suzy not only investigate the big acts from the era, they become them – recreating one act each in a final performance. They learn what it took to become a star in a world without TV, immerse themselves in the music and costumes of the time and discover how much our tastes have changed – or not – through a century of live entertainment.

Episode 1 Thursday 3rd December 9pm BBC4 60 mins

In the first episode Frank Skinner and Suzy Klein explore the birth of Britain’s first mass entertainment industry, the 19th century music hall. They discover the colourful and sometimes dangerous world of its entertainers and get under the skin of some of its greatest stars. They discover more about big household names such as Marie Lloyd and Champagne Charlie, as well as less familiar names – including the eccentric Victorian comic Dan Leno, later copied by Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel.

Not only do Frank and Suzy dig into the history of these stars and the world from which they emerged, but they also study their acts and try their hand at performing them at the end of the show.

Episode 2 Thursday 10th December 9pm BBC4 60 mins

In the second episode, Frank Skinner and Suzy Klein explore the golden age of Variety Theatre, which spanned from the start of the 20th Century to the outbreak of the Second World War.

They immerse themselves in the careers of mega-stars including George Formby and Gracie Fields, who both remain household names today. They also get to grips with some lesser-known artists, including La Loie Fuller, a stunningly innovative Chicago-born choreographer and dancer, who took London by storm during the Edwardian era.

Frank and Suzy also attempt to recreate performances from two other stars of the pre-World War 1 era, the Scottish comedian and singer Sir Harry Lauder and the once hugely famous Vesta Tilley, a talented male impersonator.

Episode 3 Thursday 17th December 9pm BBC4 60mins

A further exploration of the history of entertainment in Britain.


Music Hall at Westminster Reference Library

Salon no. 32: Sauce and the City

Thursday 26 November, 6.30 – 8.00pm

Forget about Vaudeville, cabaret and burlesque. For a hundred years, one of the most popular live entertainments in the capital was ‘Music Hall’. Join us to hear author Essie Fox tell tales of the stars and stages from the golden age of variety and to hear Kate Garner perform some of the best loved songs of the era live – right before your very eyes.

A soundtrack for the city will be provided by The Clerkenwell Kid.

Author Essie Fox describes the gorgeous buildings (once abundant and nearly all now sadly lost) that housed and gave name to a unique mixture of popular songs, comedy, speciality acts and variety entertainment known as ‘music hall’. As well as Marie Lloyd, we hear of Dan Leno, Little Tich and other stars of the London music hall stage: male and female impersonators, mime artists and impressionists, trampoline acts, and comic pianists. From the piano to the parlour to the Palais, the Music Hall tradition brought Londoners together in a celebration of community.

After a career in publishing, and then in the world of art and design, Essie Fox now writes Victorian novels. The Somnambulist’ (shortlisted for Best Debut at the National Book Awards, and now under option for TV/film) was inspired by the London music halls. Essie has previously talked about her research into the London Music halls at V+A and 32 Londoners – where she spoke on the life of Marie Lloyd.

Pianist, singer and performer Kate Garner will join us to demonstrate that that very tradition is still alive and (high) kicking. Hailing from a family steeped in Music Hall tradition and with an unparalleled knowledge and love for the songs of artistes such as Marie Lloyd, Vesta Tilly and Harry Champion, Kate will sing the Salon out for 2015. You are very welcome to singalongasalon.

Music Hall is in Kate Garner’s blood. She is the daughter of Chas Hodges of Chas and Dave and has been playing piano and singing since the age of five. Her live performances include The London Festival of Cabaret, and The British Music Hall Society’s 50th Anniversary Festival at Wilton’s Music Hall, The London Palladium and The Royal Albert Hall. She has appeared on Channel 4’s ‘Come Dine With Me’ and the BBC documentary about ‘Mrs Mills’.

Admission: Tickets £6 / £8 in advance shortly on Eventbrite
Ticket includes a ‘popped weasel’ of Hendricks Gin Punch.


Bonnie Langford At This Year’s British Music Hall Society’s Annual Ball


Vivacious star Bonnie Langford will be one of President Roy Hudd’s  Special Guests at this year’s  Annual Ball of the British Music Hall Society Why not come along and join us?

British Music Hall Society Ball
Sunday 6th December 2015 at
2-24, Kensington High Street,
London, W8 4PT
3 Course Dinner with tea/coffee and petit fours
Celebrity Speakers including Bonnie Langford.
Presentation of the BMHS Lifetime Achievement Award
World Class Cabaret – The Famous BMHS Raffle
and Dancing until Midnight
Tickets: £80
Available from:
David Nason,
The Gables, Hambrook Hill South,
Hambrook, Chichester,
West Sussex, PO18 8UJ
Tel. 01243 573716

Oh Yes It Is! Roy Hudd In Panto First

Panto 1Panto 2


It’s almost time for pantomime and Wilton’s is the place to be this year as our President Roy Hudd OBE will be starring as Dame for the very first time in his career at Wilton’s Music Hall. This historic venue, believe it or not, has never staged a pantomime before so this will be a double first. The panto, Dick Whittington And His Cat, will play performances throughout December. Box office is 0207 702 2789 or book online at

November Study Group Meeting


The next meeting of the BMHS Study Group takes place on Thursday 12th November at the Club For Acts And Actors, 20, Bedford Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9HP at 7.45pm  The speaker will be Wilf Lower, who proved such a success when he spoke to the Study Group last November. Wilf’s subject this time is Behind The Scenes Of Television’s Golden years. There is no charge for admission but voluntary donations towards the expenses of meetings are greatly appreciated.

British Music Hall Society Members’ Show


The famous British Music Hall Society’s Members’ Show takes to the stage of the Club For Acts and Actors at 20, Bedford Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9HP on Tuesday 10th November at 7.30pm. Always a highly enjoyable romp through music hall ditties, well known or rarely heard, so come along and join in the fun. Your worthy chairman for the evening is Mr. Peter Charlton. Admission is by programme donation on the door. All welcome.

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