By Alison Young. Secretary, British Music Hall Society
The British Music Hall Society hosted its #MusicHallVarietyDay on Sunday, 16 May.
It was only the second time the BMHS had hosted such a day and the society called on the world of theatre, Music Hall and Variety fans to join in by posting stories, images, memories and film clips on social media.
An extraordinarily diverse range of people and organisations turned out to support the day; it was like the waiting room at Crewe station in 1905.
Contributions were made on Twitter and Facebook by theatrical archives, theatres, performers, enthusiasts, academics, collectors of ephemera and amateur theatre groups. Rainham Theatre Society posted a series of film clips throughout the day with a Music Hall flavour – monologues and songs.
Tommy Steele even put in an appearance, banging his chairman’s gavel in a short film clip to welcome everyone. Sing-a-long king, Tom Carradine (of Carradine’s Cockney Sing-a-long, see below) got the day off to a rousing start with a medley of Music Hall favourites, beginning with, most appropriately, Let’s All Go to the Music Hall. The clip is now available to watch on the BMHS’s YouTube channel.
Some of the items revealed during the course of the day included beautiful posters from the Argyle Theatre, Birkenhead; flyers created to promote Dan Leno; a host of illustrated song sheet covers; photographs of great great aunts, uncles and grandparents in double acts and gymnastic troupes; a game of Snap! featuring Music Hall celebrities. There were also blogs and podcasts to mark the occasion.
The day marks the birthday of Roy Hudd who died last year. As former President of the British Music Hall Society, he was a great champion of the history and performance of the genre.
Unfortunately, this year’s date fell just before that on which theatres were able to re-open and our new President, Paul O’Grady, said; “On the day before many theatres reopen, it seems appropriate to remember an aspect of our glorious performing history and tradition which has influenced so much entertainment today.”
In addition to the social media activity, the British Music Hall Society also offered two talks via Zoom, taking in ‘Music Hall Brixton’ and a behind the scenes look at the London Palladium.
Singer-songwriter, Kate Garner, daughter of Chas Hodges (Chas & Dave) rounded off the day with an evening of music and memories around the piano.
Earlier, in the run up to the day, a number of radio interviews were recorded with Paul O’Grady, Debbie Hudd (Roy’s widow and BMHS’s Vice President, pictured below), Ken Dodd’s widow, Lady ‘Anne’ Dodd and Kate Garner, to promote and mark the day.
For everybody else, it’s still not too late to enjoy all that went on; check the BMHS’s Twitter account, Facebook page, YouTube channel or website to catch up.
In the meantime, see you all same time, next year!
The British Music Hall Society can be found at: