The Actor, The Lodgings, The Kipper

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20041005

Geoffrey Wheeler presents this documentary about the lost world of theatrical digs - lost along with the Music Halls and the Variety Circuit - with reminiscences from Bruce Forsyth, Jimmy Cricket and one of the most famous theatrical landladies of them all, Manchester's own Alma McKay.

The era of the theatrical landlady opened with the coming of the railways. For the first time, theatre companies were able to tour the country in relative comfort for several months at a time, and wherever they went, they needed cheap and amenable places to stay. Theatrical lodging houses were often run by working-class women whose husbands had died, or who, for some other reason, needed extra income to make ends meet. They offered a 'home away from home', a sympathetic ear and a much-valued privacy to their guests. Most of them were warmly remembered by the many hundreds of people they came to know as regular visitors.

A few, though, generated horror stories aplenty - digs where the bedsheets, still damp from the washing line, had frozen stiff in the icy wastes of the bedrooms; lodgings where the food was so bad that the residents took their revenge by nailing a kipper to the bottom of the chest of drawers on the day they left; drunken landladies and inedible breakfasts wrapped in newspaper and hidden in the wardrobe.

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20050327

Once upon a time, the theatrical landlady provided a home away from home to actors and stars of Variety who could not afford, or did not wish, to stay in hotels while on tour. Often referred to affectionately as Ma, the landladies acquired long lists of regular guests who would return year after year for some home comforts.

But not all of the landladies had such enviable reputations; freezing bedrooms, sheets still damp from the washing line, inedible breakfasts and landladies helping themselves to their guests? provisions were, sadly, not uncommon. Among those recalling the world of the theatrical landlady are Bruce Forsyth, Jimmy Cricket, Ted Ray and one of the most famous landladies of them all, Manchester?s own Alma McKay. Presented by Geoffrey Wheeler.

20050824

And Ma.

Once upon a time, the theatrical landlady provided a home away from home to actors and stars of Variety who could not afford, or did not wish, to stay in hotels while on tour. Often referred to affectionately as Ma, the landladies acquired long lists of regular guests who would return year after year for some home comforts.

But not all of the landladies had such enviable reputations - freezing bedrooms, sheets still damp from the washing line, inedible breakfasts and landladies helping themselves to their guests' provisions were, sadly, not uncommon. Among those recalling the world of the theatrical landlady are Bruce Forsyth, Jimmy Cricket, Ted Ray and one of the most famous landladies of them all, Manchester's own Alma McKay.

Presented by Geoffrey Wheeler.