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Roy Hudd on tour in Oscar Wilde play this autumn


Our President Roy Hudd will be touring in the Oscar Wilde play A Woman Of No Importance this autumn. The tour begins at Cheltenham (5th – 14th Sept) and moves on to Richmond (16th – 21st Sept), Brighton (23rd – 28th Sept), Edinburgh (1st -5th Oct), Cambridge (8th – 12th Oct), Perth (22nd – 26th Oct), Guildford (29th Oct – 2nd Nov) and Norwich (5th – 9th Nov). Roy will also be performing 3 songs in between acts of this play.

Article on Seaside Piers in Daily Express, Monday 19th August


There is an excellent article on Britain’s seaside piers in today’s Daily Express, written by journalist (and BMHS member) Neil Clark.

Blue Plaque Unveiled to Lily Elsie



David Slattery-Christy, Rosemary Ashe & Roy Hudd


Lily Elsie

A Blue Plaque to the Edwardian musical star Lily Elsie was unveiled at Stanhope House, Stanhope Place (near Marble Arch in London) on Friday 16th August at 11.30am. This was Lily’s home from 1911-1938. The driving force behind the plaque was the author and playwright David Slattery-Christy. David has also written a biography of Lily called Edwardian Beauty – Lily Elsie And The Merry Widow.

The event was officiated by West End star Rosemary Ashe, who told the guests that Lily was born in Leeds and started her career on the music halls, billed as ‘Little Elsie’. She eventually moved to London and as she was now a young woman felt that the name ‘Little Elsie’ was too juvenile so changed it to Lily Elsie. She became a Gaiety Girl and a protege of the theatre impresario George Edwardes . It was Edwardes who cast her in the title role of the original London production of Franz Lehar’s operetta The Merry Widow. The show was a smash hit and Lily became a huge star, also appearing in the operettas The Count Of Luxembourg, The Dollar Princess and A Waltz Dream.

Among the guests at the unveiling were the President of the British Music Hall Society Roy Hudd OBE and his wife Debbie.

Tommy Steele Lunch on November 7th – Just a few tickets left

Tommy Steele advertTommy Steele form

To download a booking form go to:

Gwen Farrar & Norah Blaney Book Launch in Brighton on 25th October

Screenshot 2019-08-08 16.20.46Screenshot 2019-08-08 16.20.26

Tell Me I’m Forgiven

This autumn sees the publication of a biography of two women music hall performers who were household names in 1924. Gwen Farrar and Norah Blaney met each other performing in Lena Ashwell’s pioneering concert parties for troops in World War 1. They were classically trained musicians but turned their hand to comedy when fellow performer Wish Wynne broke her leg. Norah performed songs at the piano which Gwen sent up with peculiar noises and comedy tricks which included picking up her cello and playing it like a banjo.

When they came back from France they were mentored by ventriloquist Arthur Prince and were soon topping the bill at music halls all over the UK. They performed in the first of the regular Royal Variety Shows at the London Hippodrome in November 1921 and were called ‘ the premier British double turn at the piano.’ (Sunday Post in 6th November 1921).

In 1924  they recorded the hit song It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More and scored a huge success in The Punch Bowl revue at the Duke of York’s Theatre.

The ups and downs of their career and love lives is explored in detail for the first time in Alison Child’s biography: Tell Me I’m Forgiven:The Story of Forgotten Stars Gwen Farrar and Norah Blaney.

For more information go to:

Alison Child will be giving a talk about Blaney & Farrar on Thursday 9th April 2020 as part of the British Music Hall Society’s ‘In The Limelight’ evenings.

Unveiling Of Blue Plaque To Lily Elsie On Friday 16th August


Rosemary Ashe



A Blue Plaque to the Edwardian actress, singer and beauty Lily Elsie will be unveiled by West End actress and singer Rosemary Ashe on Friday 16th August 2019 at 11.30am at Stanhope House, Stanhope Place, Hyde Park, London, W2 2HH. All welcome.

Lily Elsie played the leading role of Sonia in the original London production of Franz Lehar’s operetta The Merry Widow and also starred in the original London Productions of The Count Of Luxembourg, The Dollar Princess, A Waltz Dream, A Chinese Honeymoon and The Cingalee.

Music Hall In Islington – New Exhibition


Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay!

Music Hall in Islington

Dates: 25 July to 22 October 2019

Opening times: Monday – Saturday: 10am to 5pm, Wednesday and Sunday (and public holidays): Closed

Admission: Free

VenueIslington Museum, 245 St John Street, London EC1V 4NB

From ‘Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay’ to ‘Pack up your troubles’ and beyond, music hall songs and their performers occupy a special place in the hearts of Londoners and, in particular, Islington.

For over 100 years, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the borough’s many music halls and variety theatres entertained generations of Islingtonians. Each venue promised a unique evening’s entertainment and local residents and visitors would drop in to see their favourite ‘turns’.

Famous singing star Marie Lloyd made her debut at the Eagle Tavern, off City Road, and Norman Wisdom launched his professional career at Collins’ Music Hall on Islington Green. Astounding feats of daring and illusion were witnessed at the Finsbury Park Empire, where Harry Houdini escaped from near-impossible stunts and P T Selbit was credited with being the first person to perform the illusion of sawing a woman in half. Audiences laughed at the comedy of Charlie Chaplin, Kate Carney, Laurel and Hardy, and Max Miller and marvelled at the amazing feats performed by fire eaters, trick cyclists and acrobats.

This exhibition celebrates music hall and variety entertainment throughout a time when Islington was London’s undisputed ‘Parish of Pleasure’!

Free events programme

Booking essential

Show: A stroll down the Golden Mile

  • Matinee: Thursday 15 August, 2pm
  • Evening: Friday 4 October, 6.30pm

Islington Museum

Explore the remarkable and rambunctious history of music hall in Islington! Hear from our band of merry miscreants, the ‘Naughty Nineties’, as they sing their way through songs from the borough. Join in with old favourites including ‘Champagne Charlie and ‘My Old Man Said Follow the Van…’ and get a taste of what music hall was all about!

Book Matinee performance at Eventbrite

Book Evening performance at Eventbrite

Walk. The boy up in the gallery: Nelly Power and the music halls of Islington

  • Walk 1 – Tuesday 20 August, 6pm
  • Walk 2 – Saturday 14 September, 11am

Meet outside Angel Underground Station

Join our guide Lottie, as Victorian music-hall singer and Islington resident Nelly Power, on this free 90-minute ‘theatrical’ walk. Listen to Nelly’s story, and perhaps a song or two, while visiting the locations of the borough’s well-known music halls. Hear how these venues were once made famous by performers including Vesta Tilley, Gracie Fields, Marie Lloyd and, of course, Nelly herself!

The tour finishes at Islington Museum where you can view our music-hall exhibition.

Book at

Talk. Freak shows, circus and music hall: Victorian entertainment in Islington

Dr John Wolff

Tuesday 24 September. 6pm

Islington Museum

Roll up! Roll up! Roll up! Historian and author Dr John Woolf explores the history of the Victorian freak show, through the stories of the ‘freak performers’ who graced the boards of this popular form of Victorian entertainment.

From the world’s first international celebrity, a dwarf performer endorsed by Queen Victoria, to the original ‘Siamese Twins’ who wowed the medical world – this talk brings centre stage the stars of the Victorian freak show that helped define Queen Victoria’s age, a number of whom appeared in Islington’s music halls and places of entertainment.

Book at Eventbrite

Talk. Chapel on the Green: The rise and fall of Collins’ Music Hall

Tuesday 15 October, 6pm

Islington Museum

Mark Aston takes us back to the golden age of music hall to tell the story of one of London’s most loved and famous halls – Collins’ on Islington Green. For nearly 100 years, Collins’ played host to all the music-hall greats, including Marie Lloyd, Harry Champion, George Robey and a young Charlie Chaplin, and also ‘turns’ considered not so great!

Book at Eventbrite



British Music Hall Society’s Birthday Show on September 3rd at The Water Rats pub

Birthday 1Birthday 2

Venue: The Water Rats pub, 328, Grays Inn Road, King’s Cross, London, WC1X 8BZ.

Time: 7.30pm

Tickets  (£11) available from


Stick A Geranium In Your Hat with Roy Hudd on Radio4 Extra


Stick A Geranium In Your Hat: A Comic Celebration of the words and music of songwriters Weston & Lee starring Roy Hudd, which was originally broadcast in 1982, is being repeated on BBC Radio4 Extra. The first of 4 episodes can be heard on Saturday 27th July at 7.30am or 5.30pm. A third repeat can be heard at 5.30am on Sunday 28th July.

Charity Theatre Organ Concert in Crook, County Durham on 4th August

2019 08 Macmillan Cancer Concert copy

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