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Great variety theatre shows

Interior of The Palace Pier theatre
Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton and Hove

An avid variety fan

I remember both The Grand and The Hippodrome theatres as a lad. I was an avid variety theatre fan during the early 1950s. I saw great artists such as Max Miller, Billy Cotton, Winifred Atwell, Eddie Calvert, Nat Gonella and many, many more. This was how I spent my pocket money in those days, a seat in the theatre cost me around 2 shillings and threepence.

A show to remember

I remember one show at the Grand, I think it was, when the orchestra starting to play the ‘Dream of Olwen’. The curtain slowly lifted and there were all the chorus girls standing there completely naked. Of course in those days they had to remain perfectly still…that was the law. As a lad of 15 tender years I was dumbstruck. When I returned home my mum asked me if I was OK. I suppose the red face and bulging eyes were a giveaway.

Hero for a day

Of course I didn’t dare tell my mum what I saw otherwise I would probably have been banned from visiting the theatre ever again. But when I went to school the next day I did happen to mention it to my school mates. Thinking about it,  ’mention’ is probably a bit of an understatement, I most likely went on about it forever. But it is great to be the ‘hero’ if only for one day ’nuff said.

Do you remember any great variety or star shows? What was the show and who was in it? How much did it cost for your seat? Please share your memories with us by posting a comment below.

Comments about this page

  • I remember my Dad taking me to see the Nitwits at the Hippodrome, and another time going to see Pet Clarke in her show and I had some Dolly Mixtures as a treat. O Happy Times with my dad bless him.

    By Pam Smith (14/06/2013)
  • Something in the air! I remember seeing the April 1964 tour with The Dave Clarke Five, The Hollies, The Kinks, et al. but after the first couple of bars of each song the rest was lost in ear splitting screaming and foot thumping to Bits & Pieces etc. It is a wonder the balcony did not collapse! The noise made your chest hammer, it was like standing next to a jet engine and the vibrations went right through you. The air seemed to be ‘crackling’ can’t think of any other way to describe it. It took quite a while afterwards for ‘normal’ hearing to return.

    By Elaine (15/06/2013)
  • I saw Laurel & Hardy live on stage here in 1952, Max Miller many times, Ruby Murray, Spike Milligan, Morecambe & Wise when they were at the bottom of the bill and many more through the ’50s. 

    By Terry Hyde (04/11/2014)
  • Went to see The Beatles at the Hippodrome twice in 1965, had to queue for 17 hours to get second row! Wonderful days and I feel I was very lucky to have seen them. Still brings a shiver down my spine when I walk by and remember sleeping on the pavement with my sisters who were made to come with me. Also remember seeing Derek Roy when I was about five and he got me up on stage.

    By Marilyn Jones (06/11/2014)
  • I was in a dancing act called “The Candy Sisters & Eddie”. In the 1950s we performed in most of the Moss Empire Theatres in the UK with names like Billy Danials, Max Bygraves, Harry Seacombe, Peter Brough and many more. We did play the Hippodrome, a grand old theatre and I find it hard to believe that not a lot is remembered on the internet about theatre. Most information seems to transfer from radio to tv. Thank you for remembering. 

    By Shirley Pullan (09/11/2014)
  • I work with a lovely lady called Joy whose father was Eddy Ebris (I might have the spelling wrong, apologies),  stage name The Top Hatters.  He could juggle 4 top hats while on ice skates.  Does anyone have any info on this act?

    By Hazel (22/10/2016)
  • Forgive me if I’m mistaken, but isn’t this a view of the Palace Pier Theatre auditorium … not the Hippodrome, as stated?

    By Sam Flowers (23/10/2016)
  • According to this it is, Sam! [Hi Sam and Janet, this page is about Brighton theatres in general rather than a specific one. The Hippodrome just seems to have sparked a lively thread. Thanks for your comments and contributions. Editing Team]

    By Janet Beal (24/10/2016)
  • I remember being taken by my grandparents to see Cyril Fletcher at the Dome on a regular Tuesday night, I believe. This would have been the early to mid ’60s. Loved the different acts /dancing girls and of course Cyril Fletcher himself. 

    By Belinda Lumsden (26/10/2016)
  • This page [among so many others] brings back such memories! I too can recall going to the Hippodrome on many occasions and also The Grand [top of North Rd] and was very upset when it burnt down. On one occasion was invited to go to the Theatre Royal for a Christmas pantomime – stage side “box” too; terrible for viewing, though the cast kept coming across and pinching our sweets and lollies – cheek! Enjoyed going to The Dome for trad jazz concerts – especially Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball. Great days.

    By Nigel D Buxton (01/09/2019)

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