Time Travel Theatre: Fifty Years Ago – A Trip Around London’s West End Theatres in 1969

Fancy spending four minutes in 1969? Well, I have just the thing for you!

Let’s take a trip around the West End in this little film (above) courtesy of our British Pathé friends posting through YouTube. PLEASE NOTE the film is silent (NB the West End wasn’t actually THAT quiet 50 years ago)

Let’s Go! To start we have the ever-changing lights of Piccadilly, then at 1’10” at the Prince of Wales Theatre, just off of Leicester Square, it’s Dora Bryan and Hugh Paddick in a comedy, “They Don’t Grow on Trees”.

At 1’45” at the Globe (now Gielgud) on Shaftesbury Avenue, “There’s A Girl in My Soup” is playing, starring Peter Byrne and Richard Coleman (and Belinda Carroll whose name has gone out!). This show became London’s longest running comedy lasting six and a half years (until the record was later exceeded by “No Sex Please, We’re British” and others). At 1’55” we have a shot of the famous neon sign of the Talk of The Town which occupied the Hippodrome for many years (The Hippodrome is still standing, but is now a casino).

At 2’04” at the Lyric on Shaftesbury Avenue, Rosemary Harris and Paul Rogers are playing in Neil Simon’s comedy Plaza Suite, after which we visit the Apollo Theatre next door to note that John Gielgud is playing in Alan Bennett’s “Forty Years On”.

At 2.16 we move up Shaftesbury Avenue to the Palace Theatre, where Edward Woodward is starring in a musical adaptation of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, entitled simply “Two Cities”

At 2’24” legendary impresario Tom Arnold presents popular female impersonator Danny La Rue.

At 2’26 we have a shot of the Saville Theatre (which is now the subdivided Odeon Covent Garden)

And at 2’57 at the Talk of The Town, singer Sandie Shaw is starring in a production by the legendary producer Robert Nesbitt (who I had the great pleasure of meeting several times; the most charming gentleman and a fine producer).

And we finish the film with some shots of cinemas in Leicester Square with their current movies.


I hope you enjoyed our little four-minute theatrical time travel. More soon!


With thanks to British Pathé posting through YouTube

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