Old Time Variety: An Illustrated History

Old Time Variety: An Illustrated History

by Richard Baker, Denis Judd


View All Available Formats & Editions
Usually ships within 1 week


As one of the richest sources of diversion for the people of Britain between the end of the First World War and the 1960s, the variety theater emerged from the embers of music hall, a vulgar and rambunctious entertainment that had held the working classes in thrall since the 1840s. Music hall bosses decided they would do better business if a man going to theaters on his own could take his wife and children with him, knowing they would see or hear nothing that would scandalize them. So variety, a gentler, less red-blooded entertainment was gradually established.

At the top of the profession were Gracie Fields, a peerless singer and comedienne, and Max Miller, a comic who was renowned for being risqué, but who, in fact, never cracked a dirty joke. They were supported by acts that matched the word ‘variety’: ventriloquists, drag artists, animal acts, acrobats, jugglers, magicians and many more.

But the variety theater was constantly under threat, first from revue, then radio, the cinema, girlie shows, the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and finally television. By the end of the 1950s, the variety business seemed to have given up, but the recent and extraordinary popularity of talent shows on television has proved the public appetite is still there. Variety could be about to start all over again.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781844681242
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 07/12/2011
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Richard Baker needs no introduction. Writer, broadcaster, newsreader, he is a household name. He served in the Royal Navy for three and a half years, which included a period at Tobermory under the command of the 'Terror'. He lives in London, but travels widely, appearing regularly on lecture tours, and maintains a keen interest in naval matters.

Customer Reviews