Wed 12 Dec 2018

Through the Decades

Looking back over the years one starts to remember things as if through those jolly old rose coloured glasses. We tend to only recall the best bits, which is as well I suppose. As far as the fun side of the past is concerned I don’t think there was ever such a happy time as those Golden Days of Summer Seaside Shows, regrettably almost extinct now.

I was one of the lucky ones in showbusiness to experience them, and learnt my skills of entertaining though them. The art of holding an audience’s attention seems to have disappeared these days. Modern performers are not happy unless the audiences are screaming and shouting at them, and are herded around in their thousands in large stadiums with the compulsory huge bank of loud speakers and flashing lights. It’s all beyond me.

Our happy little shows were such great fun and in your particular venue or pitch (as they call it in the business), you were treated as a big fish, albeit in a small pond. Holidaymakers arrived on a Saturday morning at the railway or bus station where we greeted them with leaflets and encouraged them to come to the shows. Which they did, it was the expected thing to do. Saturday afternoons were usually left to opening garden fetes and carnivals, judging babies, grannies and the beauty queens.

Many of the audience members would become your personal friends whilst on holiday, and even to this day I still meet up travelling around the country many who say “the last time I saw you was in Skegness or Yarmouth”, which was in the 60s and 70s. All the warmth and fun that was generated was unbelievable, a personal touch went into creating your audience. At the end of each performance the cast lined up at the exit door to say goodnight to the audience as they left the theatre, signing autographs and hoping they would come back and see us again during the rest of their holiday.

Having the company of other performers with you on stage also created ideal work and fun, the little in-jokes between us were hilarious. I have missed this in the past 25 years, holding a two hour show on one’s own is daunting and certainly I miss the company. But I can still look back and remember the fun we had, and the hard work and effort we put into those Golden Days of Summer Seaside Shows.