Arthur Lloyd.co.uk
The Music Hall and Theatre History Site
Dedicated to Arthur Lloyd, 1839 - 1904.

 

Neil Sean's Hall of Fame

(A Monthly look at some of the Stars of Theatre, and the Venues they performed in, all with Video Presentations and short articles to accompany them)

The Scala Theatre, London - The Hippodrome Theatre Eastbourne - The Prince of Wales Theatre - Organist Kevin Grunill - Memories of British Comedy Greats - Memories of "The Met" Edgware Road - Memories of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane - Memories of Brighton Theatres - Memories of The London Coliseum - Memories of the Victoria Palace Theatre - Mike Winters of Mike and Bernie Fame

Other interviews on this site by Neil Sean include:- Des O'Connor - Alan Scott - Mike Winters - Ann Montini

The Scala Theatre, London

A Google StreetView image of Scala House, Charlotte and Tottenham Streets, which stands on the site of the former Scala Theatre today - Click to Interact

Above - A Google StreetView image of Scala House, Charlotte and Tottenham Streets, which stands on the site of the former Scala Theatre today - Click to Interact.

Scala Theatre London
Scala Theatre London

As many know what I truly love about the brilliant Arthur Lloyd site is the masses of information you find out about, and hidden gems that you had no idea existed. Which leads me to this month's video - The Scala Theatre in London - I was so impressed with its history and background we decided to take a camera there and look up what the site looks like today.

Just like Arthur Lloyd describes, it is an unassuming office block, which got me thinking so much about its showbiz history and little do the workers know as they sit in their glum offices all day that they are in fact on hallowed ground with some major superstars beneath them.

The Charlotte Street Facade of the 1904 Scala Theatre.Take a look and recall when the wonderful Anthony Newley made his movie there called "Idle on Parade" which was our answer to Jailhouse Rock with Elvis and Tony getting called up. A wonderful film that is out now today on DVD but the movie as you will see gives us a great insight into what the Theatre looked like during the late 50s.

It's hard to believe also that great Director Hitchcock worked his magic there with movie legends like Marlene Dietrich, Richard Todd and Michael Wilding too, but for many it remains the home of just simply the biggest boy band in the world - The Beatles.

Left - The Charlotte Street Facade of the 1904 Scala Theatre.

Neil Sean in August 2018.They filmed segments there in 1964 when they made the all-time classic movie "Hard Day's Night". Some wonderful shots outside and inside the Theatre on this gem of a pop movie.

Take a seat and enjoy what is truly a lost diamond of a Theatre that even Variety legend Mike Winters told me should never have been pulled down, but as we both agreed that was the sixties and seventies for you.

Enjoy a nostalgic trip back to the world of the wonderful Scala Theatre in London.

Until next time Neil Sean.

This Article was written by Neil Sean and kindly sent in by him, along with the video interview, for exclusive publication on www.arthurlloyd.co.uk and may not be copied or otherwise distributed without prior consent. Images and Video Courtesy Neil Sean and Maycon Productions.

Neil Sean remembers the Hippodrome Theatre Eastbourne

Neil Sean with Sir Bruce Forsyth.

Above - Neil Sean with Sir Bruce Forsyth.

Memories of The Royal Hippodrome, Eastbourne
Memories of The Royal Hippodrome, Eastbourne

What a wonderful Theatre this still remains to today, it has it all from great history to refurbishment and yes, a few ghosts, but what is that between showbiz friends. In this short film we take a look around the Hippodrome Theatre while it undergoes some vital work and also recall some great stars that appeared there over the years from the likes of the late great Sir Bruce Forsyth, Norman Evans, Gert & Daisy, Ken Goodwin and many more. The Theatre is a gem in the town and all the locals are so thrilled that it's springing back to life full time now.

The Hippodrome adjusted its offering in the past as the acclaimed comedian Clarkson Rose dominated the summer entertainment scene with his show 'Twinkle' in the Pier's splendid new Music Pavilion, with the BBC broadcasting an hour of the fun every Sunday night.

Variety again became the staple fare at the Hippodrome and through the 40s and 50s stars of radio such as Tommy Handley, Vic Oliver, Jimmy Jewell, Max Miller and Norman Evans were on the bill.

Neil Sean at the Hippodrome, Eastbourne.

Above - Neil Sean at the Hippodrome, Eastbourne.

The arrival of television sets in the late 1950s brought a major challenge to traditional live variety. In fact, a young Bruce Forsyth was chosen to host 'Sunday Night at the London Palladium' in 1958 while he was on the bill at the Hippodrome's summer show.

The post-war years, and well into the 1970s, saw many famous entertainers on the Hippodrome's stage, including Sandy Powell, Terry Thomas, Norman Wisdom, Elsie and Doris Waters, Max Miller, Tommy Trinder and Ken Goodwin. And for three years Cyril Fletcher brought a highly successful summer show to the Theatre.

Go on treat yourself for a seat in the stalls and marvel at this Eastbourne gem as the curtain rises once again on some wonderful memories.

Until next time Neil Sean.

This Article was written by Neil Sean and kindly sent in by him, along with the video interview, for exclusive publication on www.arthurlloyd.co.uk and may not be copied or otherwise distributed without prior consent. Images and Video Courtesy Neil Sean and Maycon Productions.

Neil Sean on London's Prince of Wales Theatre

Neil Sean outside the Prince of Wales Theatre.

Above - Neil Sean outside the Prince of Wales Theatre.

Memories of The Prince of Wales Theatre!
Memories of The Prince of Wales Theatre!

This Month I thought we would take a trip down memory lane to one with of my all-time favourite theatres in London, the Prince of Wales. The theatre, which was rebuilt in 1937 to great acclaim, presented a series of French-style revues and came to be known as London's Folies Bergère. It was not until the mid-20th century that musicals were to play an important part in the theatre's history once more, and more importantly keep the theatre viable.

However, the theatre is so much more than that and as you will discover when you watch the film even the wonderful Dame Gracie Fields had a hand its in rebirth and she, at the time, was one of the biggest stars on the planet.

We also take you on a journey on just how the theatre, for a while, was also a great place for variety with the likes of TV kings such as Benny Hill, Tommy Cooper and of course the ever-wonderful Sir Norman Wisdom who really knew how to capture the PR for his show from a wonderful picture also in the movie.

The exterior of the Prince of Wales Theatre during the run of 'Blue Magic' with Shirley Bassey and Tommy Cooper in 1958 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins.Its current too with the world now revisiting movie legends Laurel and Hardy thanks to the new movie in cinemas "Stan and Ollie " who came to the theatre on the invitation of their then tour promoter the late and very talented Bernard Delfont to see his new discovery Norman Wisdom on the stage. They loved him and so a picture ensued which proves, as Norman told me, "I was stunned they came to see me, but the thing is they were so gracious and kind too I truly loved them both... they were just so funny."

Hollywood arrived in 1963 with the one and only Marlene Dietrich appearing at the Royal Variety show from the theatre that year which was seen by millions, but we also remind viewers that Beatlemania actually started here at the Prince of Wales, again after Bernard Delfont decided to book the then pop act onto the famous show.

Left - The exterior of the Prince of Wales Theatre during the run of 'Blue Magic' with Shirley Bassey and Tommy Cooper in 1958 - Courtesy Gerry Atkins.

Sid Field, Barry Manilow and many more make up the cast of the film which I think, and hope reflects some of the greats that have appeared on that stage and not forgetting of course up to date productions too – Sir Cameron Mackintosh owns the theatre now and for a while there was a worry that it was looking a tad run down. Thanks to his investment the place is thriving once again, and many people are enjoying the shows in the great art déco surrounds.

Finally, one of my all-time favourites is mentioned in the movie, Ms Hylda Baker, who scored a huge hit there along with Cynthia in the 50's but why read this when you can see what I am writing about too.

I also can tell you in reality how vast that auditorium is from the stage, having appeared on that stage many times and some auditions too... many to the sound of my own feet but hey as they say that is showbiz!

Go on click on the video and enjoy the show.

Until next time.

Neil Sean.

This Article was written by Neil Sean and kindly sent in by him, along with the video interview, for exclusive publication on www.arthurlloyd.co.uk and may not be copied or otherwise distributed without prior consent. Images and Video Courtesy Neil Sean and Maycon Productions.

Neil Sean Meets Blackpool's Tower & North Pier Organist Kevin Grunill

Neil Sean and Kevin Grunill at the Westminster Live Studios.

Above - Neil Sean and Kevin Grunill at the Westminster Live Studios.

Neil Sean Meets Kevin Grunill.
Neil Sean Meets Kevin Grunill.

Kevin Grunill has built a fine reputation as one of the UK's busiest organists from playing at the world-famous Tower Ballroom, home to "Strictly Come Dancing, to world fame across the Globe including great times on Coronation Street too, but his new exciting venture is here in Yorkshire Barnsley "The Astoria Centre". Kevin has featured in numerous television programmes, such as "Hollyoaks", "Blackpool", and "The Hairy Bikers.

Kevin Grunill at the Wurlitzer Organ.In this exclusive interview Kevin reveals how he started playing the organ, and how, as a teen, a visit to the famous Ballroom in Blackpool sparked his interest but not actually the world-famous Organ.

Left - Kevin Grunill at the Wurlitzer Organ.

Kevin also reveals how he landed the prestigious job of playing at the famous North Pier Pavilion Sun Lounge, which was home for many years to another organ legend Mr. Raymond Wallbank, and amid the palm court elegance of the pier's capacious Sun Lounge, here Kevin a consummate and well-loved communicator by his loyal audience, found a particularly happy and expressive outlet for his considerable talent.

The Astoria, Barnsley.While continuing to perform, Kevin decided on his most ambitious project yet, he opened his own highly distinctive ballroom in what he describes as "Barnsley on Sea". The Astoria Centre in his home town of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, Kevin reveals the secrets behind the project and how it all came about.

Right - The Astoria, Barnsley.

Naturally no chat about the world's organs could be complete without the doyen of the organ world and dubbed "Mr Blackpool" himself, Reginald Dixon. As Kevin describes him as the King of Blackpool but like all stars perhaps not given the star power normally given to people who gave so much to the town and truly put it on the worldwide map.

In this self-effacing interview the charming and cheeky Kevin gives advice to the next generation of budding organ stars and reveals his plans for the future ensuring that the sound of the mighty Wurlitzer will live on at Barnsley, Blackpool and beyond.

Neil Sean.

This Article was written by Neil Sean and kindly sent in by him, along with the video interview, for exclusive publication on www.arthurlloyd.co.uk and may not be copied or otherwise distributed without prior consent. Images and Video Courtesy Neil Sean and Maycon Productions.

Memories of British Comedy Greats

Looking at the life and careers of some of the greatest comedy writers and performers of the last century

Neil Sean in Orme Court, London.

Above - Neil Sean in Orme Court, London.

Neil Sean's Memories of British Comedy Greats.
Neil Sean's Memories of British Comedy Greats.

Associated British Scripts began life in London's Shepherd's Bush in the mid-1950s, Eric Sykes, Spike Milligan, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson - decided to form a writing group as a place to pool ideas, contacts and office space costs. Basically saving a lot of money and seeing how to combine their great talents. Johnny Speight, John Antrobus, Terry Nation, Dick Vosburgh, Eric Merriman, Dave Freeman, Barry Took and Marty Feldman. The scripts that went out of that house would help further the comedy careers of Frankie Howerd, Tony Hancock, Tommy Cooper, Peter Sellers, Arthur Haynes, Arthur Askey, Warren Mitchell, Dick Emery, Benny Hill, Bill Fraser, Harry Worth, June Whitfield, Kenneth Williams, Sid James, Ted Ray, Joan Sims, Charlie Drake, Clive Dunn, Terry Scott, Harry H. Corbett, Bruce Forsyth, Ronnie Barker, Hattie Jacques and Morecambe and Wise – What we now call all the greats of comedy.

Associated London scripts grew to include around thirty writers, with a support staff of twelve; by 1957 it had outgrown the Shepherd's Bush offices and moved to larger premises in Kensington High Street. Around 1960, ALS sold the Kensington offices and purchased even more prestigious premises at 9 Orme Court in Bayswater Road, adjacent to Hyde Park. Which is where this latest short film was filmed. 

Neil Sean with Galton and Simpson.I was lucky enough to meet and interview the brilliant writing duo of Galton & Simpson  over a number of times who regaled me with such great stories of Sid James, Hattie Jaques and Hancock.

Left - Neil Sean with Galton and Simpson.

The duo were amazing really as they also created the great comedy Steptoe and Son plus so much more.

Eric Sykes I encountered  quite by accident when he was appearing in a Ray Cooney farce in London and we became friends where, as an Oldham lad, he told me all about his rise to fame and of course becoming a  movie star himself too – Throughout the years I met many of the people associated with the company including the late great Frankie Howard.

I was stunned to find that this great little court in the heart of Bayswater was the home of such talent and having had an office in the area for a while myself I was thrilled to see the blue plaques finally go up to these legends of comedy. 

I also wanted to make a small remembrance film of these greats for some time and finally here at last it is – I hope you enjoy it as much as I did recalling and making it.

Neil Sean.

This Article was written by Neil Sean and kindly sent in by him, along with the video interview, for exclusive publication on www.arthurlloyd.co.uk and may not be copied or otherwise distributed without prior consent. Images and Video Courtesy Neil Sean and Maycon Productions.

Memories of "The Met" Edgware Road

Memories of the Met.
Memories of the Met.

In this latest film we look at one of London's most talked about gems of the Matcham era – The Metropolitan Theatre, Edgware Road – London. As we discover many stars owe their big break to the venue which also became a film icon itself thanks to the wonderful 1949 Ealing Movie "The Blue Lamp" which starred Jack Warner for the first time as PC George Dixon.

Others touched upon include the late great comedian Larry Grayson, who later found fame in hit game show "The Generation Game", plus budding teen idols Jim Dale and Marty Wilde, Hank Marvin, and TV mogul Johnnie Hamp, plus a nod to one of the North's greatest ever comedians, Frank Randle.

The building's site today is of course Paddington Green police station which is also now due to be knocked down.

Enjoy this latest stroll down memory lane with Neil Sean.

This Article was written by Neil Sean and kindly sent in by him, along with the video interview, for exclusive publication on www.arthurlloyd.co.uk and may not be copied or otherwise distributed without prior consent. Images and Video Courtesy Neil Sean and Maycon Productions.

Memories of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane by Neil Sean

Neil Sean and Bonnie Langford at Drury Lane

Memories of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
Memories of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

In our latest short film, we take you back to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, home to so many events over the years, and when it finishes its run of 42nd Street on January 5th, 2019, it will close while Lord Webber refurbishes the theatre and reopens in two years' time.

42nd Street at the Theatre Royal Drury LaneWe were filming over a year at the theatre for the hit musical "42nd" Street so had a good look around the historical venue and yes it really does have a ghost!

In the film we talk about how 007 Sean Connery himself went through that famous stage door along with some forgotten favourites in the style of Ivor Novello and Sir Noel Coward.

We could not leave out another Welsh diva though and that was of course Dorothy Squires who famously hired the theatre when no one else would give her work. Bravo Dot.

I recaWith Sheena Easton at Drury Lanell meeting the late great Frankie Vaughn and how Rex Harrison became a huge West End star on that stage with a young Julie Andrews too.

We give a nod to the many Royal shows that have played there and above all hope you With Bonnie Langford at Drury Laneenjoy our trip down memory lane once more, or should that be Drury lane?

Until next time all the best, Neil Sean.

This Article was written by Neil Sean and kindly sent in by him, along with the video interview, for exclusive publication on www.arthurlloyd.co.uk and may not be copied or otherwise distributed without prior consent. Images and Video Courtesy Neil Sean and Maycon Productions.

Memories of Brighton Theatres, by Neil Sean

Neil Sean Remembers Theatres of Brighton.
Neil Sean Remembers Theatres of Brighton.

Like everyone when on holiday us theatre folk are never quite on holiday are we? so armed with a small camera and look around the Regency Town of Brighton I decided to recall some of the great theatres the town has and had.

The Old Palace Pier theatre was and remains a mystery but more of that in the film and then we went onto the still vibrant Theatre Royal along with the ghost!

The Brighton Hippodrome in September 2018 - Courtesy Neil Sean.However, the saddest part of the trip was the way the local council have let the once glorious Hippodrome on Middle Street to look so badly defaced and yet what remains inside is something still of a gem that could easily be brought back to life.

Left - The Brighton Hippodrome in September 2018 - Courtesy Neil Sean.

There is a Save Brighton Hippodrome Group so get involved if you want this to be saved and reopened but I do hope you enjoy this latest film and recall, like myself, the glorious hot sunny days of summer season, the Beatles, Frankie Vaughan and the Hollywood legends that were Laurel and Hardy, all booked by of course by the Grade Organisation.

Sit back relax and enjoy.

Until next month...

Neil Sean.

This Article was written by Neil Sean and kindly sent in by him, along with the video interview, for exclusive publication on www.arthurlloyd.co.uk and may not be copied or otherwise distributed without prior consent. Images and Video Courtesy Neil Sean and Maycon Productions.

Memories of The London Coliseum, by Neil Sean

Neil Sean at the London Coliseum.

Neil Sean's Memories of the London Coliseum.
Neil Sean's Memories of the London Coliseum.

Since 1904 the London Coliseum has stood proud on St Martin's Lane and has played host to every major star of the last hundred years. In this film theatre historian Neil Sean recounts some fascinating tales, and just how, even today, the famous Frank Matcham designed gem of a Theatre remains as popular as ever. Recall the start of television right here in 1930, and just how did Queen Mary create a stir in the Royal Box! Plus, the ever wonderful Tommy Steele.

Enjoy.

Until next month...

Neil Sean.

This Article was written by Neil Sean and kindly sent in by him, along with the video interview, for exclusive publication on www.arthurlloyd.co.uk and may not be copied or otherwise distributed without prior consent. Images and Video Courtesy Neil Sean and Maycon Productions.

Memories of the Victoria Palace Theatre, by Neil Sean

Neil Sean's Memories of the Victoria Palace Theatre London.
Neil Sean's Memories of the Victoria Palace Theatre London.

Frank Matcham helped design and build the Victoria Palace in 1911. It has been used for variety and musical productions for practically all its life since then, in this short film (shown right) we celebrate some of the many achievements of this wonderful iconic theatre.

In 1960 it was the home of the Royal Variety Performance which starred the delightful Max Bygraves and the star of Las Vegas, Liberace, plus a great nod to a exquisite performer in Miss Marion Ryan. We also look at the work of Impresario Jack Hylton and one show that now is almost forgotten but for a time was one of the most successful shows at the Victoria palace. The Black and White Minstrels shows.

Today its home to the record-breaking musical Hamilton and the beautiful restoration work carried out by Delfont Mackintosh makes sure the theatre will thrive for many decades to come.

Enjoy.

Until next month...

Neil Sean.

This Article was written by Neil Sean and kindly sent in by him, along with the video interview, for exclusive publication on www.arthurlloyd.co.uk and may not be copied or otherwise distributed without prior consent. Images and Video Courtesy Neil Sean and Maycon Productions.

Mike Winters of Mike and Bernie Fame, by Neil Sean

Neil Sean's 50 minute interview with Mike Winters.
Neil Sean's 50 minute interview with Mike Winters.

I first met Mike Winters on the North Pier in Blackpool as a young child – I loved the duo and found them like so many to be very funny – Many now of course have forgotten the duo and often even in countdowns on TV shows they are left off in favour of Eric and Ernie which is such a shame as they really were fun guys to know.

Right - Click the thumbnail to see Neil Sean's 50 minute interview with Mike Winters.

A few years later and now in TV I was lucky enough to get Mike to come along to the studios here in London at Westminster Live to record what would be his final ever full-length chat over tea about his latest book – From the off it was a laugh simply because the young girl taking Mike around had so little interest she fell asleep while we chatted all about his career and success along with his late brother Bernie. Like all young PR people today she showed no shame in this and simply said "its been a long week "leaving myself and Mike in convulsions again...

Neil Sean meets Mike Winters in this exclusive interview for arthurlloyd.co.uk.People also may have forgotten that Mike in a tour with the new singing sensation Tommy Steele was a fiasco behind the scenes, but good publicity, and it led to the BBC producer Jack Good coming to see Tommy, and instead offering Mike and Bernie a spot-on TV in the music series the 6.5 Special in 1957. This made them easily recognised in the street for the first time.

Left - Neil Sean meets Mike Winters in this exclusive interview for arthurlloyd.co.uk.

They did 6.5 Special for 12 months, and afterwards felt that, unfortunately for them, it had inflated their egos. Bernie accepted a film contract from the producer Cubby Broccoli but insisted that his brother share his substantial film earnings.

Mike Winters of Mike and Bernie Fame. Mike did a few situation comedies and took up agenting – including representing Engelbert Humperdinck when he was still going by the name Gerry Dorsey. Eng told me that he loved working with Mike as "he totally understood what the act needed and so played well on that."

In this interview Mike reveals all with great relish about his time working with so many great comics from Albert Modley to Frank Randle and the whole Blackpool scene of that era – Mike also speaks on the Royal Variety shows that they both appeared and finally sets to rest the on-going myth about the brothers falling out

A true variety giant and so very pleased to have spent time with Mike Winters. I know when watching this interview, you will too.

Enjoy.

Until next month...

Neil Sean.

This Article was written by Neil Sean and kindly sent in by him, along with the video interview, for exclusive publication on www.arthurlloyd.co.uk and may not be copied or otherwise distributed without prior consent. Images and Video Courtesy Neil Sean and Maycon Productions.

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