PUBLAND Part Two 1971 - 1977

PUBLAND Part One 1966 - 1970

PUBLAND Part Three 1978 - 1980

PUBLAND

by the late PETER HEPPLE editor "The Stage"
Preface "The Best of Publand" programme Scala Theatre 7th June 1966

In truth has it been said that there is nothing new under the sun. And by this token entertainment in the pubs is not particularly novel. There has always Been music in the inns and taverns of this country and midway through the last century a London publican named Charles Morton had the bright idea of staging a complete evening's entertainment in his concert room and charging the customers for admission

Thus was the music hall born. Some ten years ago it died, the victim of television, cheap nude revues and inflated salaries for its star names, But the tradition could not be broken as easily as that. Live entertainment was bottled up for a year or two and then the dam burst, so that today one can truthfully say that more artists are working than ever before in the history of show business.

As far as the average Londoner is concerned, it was Dan Parson, in his television programme "Time Gentlemen Please" a few years ago, who made us aware that a sturdy, earthy and folky (in the true sense of the word) entertainment was still to be found in the London pubs. Another television show, "Stars and Garters", continued the trend, and Dan Parson's own pub, the Waterman's Arms on the Isle of Dogs, began to draw the town and the visitors from the provinces and overseas.

In London now there are literally hundreds of pubs which present live entertainment. Sometimes it reflects the taste of the landlord, sometimes the demands of the customers. There are pubs which feature Old Time Music Hall, trad jazz, modem jazz and beat music. Some put on two or three artists an evening, others just have a pianist at weekends. There are those which stage regular talent contests; there are those which only engage seasoned professionals. And there are those where the customers entertain each other.

You will find the entertainment pubs in the most vibrant and pulsating parts of London, in Battersea, Bermondsey and Bethnal Green rather than Ealing, Edgware and Eltham. The best spots, where competition is rife, are the Elephant and Castle and Old Kent Road area; East London, notably Bethnal Green, Dalston. Hackney and Shoreditch; and in the North London districts surrounding The Pegasus kept by Ray Donn our impresario of this evening.


The Pegasus


Terry Day


"A Little of What You Fancy" filmed at "The Pegasus" 1968

The artists are of all types, but shortage of stage space usually precludes the more spectacular speciality acts. Professionals, semi-professionals and amateurs happily co-exist side by side, and it is no secret that the London pubs have been a godsend to many pro's, some of whom might have left the business altogether. Because pubs close at 11, many artists find it convenient to "double" with West End cabarets — and there is little or no difference in the money they obtain.Since Londoners re-discovered the pubs, many agents and managers have "discovered" their artists. Ray Marline, Kim Cordell, the Honeycombs and the Migil Five are some of the best known, but there are dozens more waiting in the wings.
Some of them are ready to entertain you tonight. This is not really a "Command Performance" for this show is designed as a representative cross-section of publand talent. Many of the artists do not work exclusively in pubs or even exclusively in London. But all of them will admit a great debt to the London pubs, which have given them a chance to learn their profession and which have bound them in an indissoluble link with their audiences.

The future of entertainment in the pubs is now secure — and with it the future of entertainment in general.


The first "Publand Show" Scala Theatre 7th July 1966

RAISING KANE
Visits the Publand Show
1st review by Tommy Kane "The Stage"

On Tuesday, June 7th 1966, Ray Donn presented' "The Best Of Publand" at the Scala Theatre WI. As implied, the show featured artists who have for long been favourites of club and pub audiences throughout London — fifteen acts in all—plus the Heydey Dancers from Steve Clarke (Clark Bros.) and the Peter Fields Orchestra under the direction of Tommy Harris.
The occasion, and theatrical setting, produce inspired performances. And none of the perfectly attired artists and musicians reflected any signs of staleness after an exhaustive full day's rehearsal.
The six gorgeous Heydays opening legwork routine. Now legman Charlie Smithers—London's-No. 1 storytelling comedian—puts the eager audience in his pocket with has first "now this man . . ." before introducing singer Gary Peters into the hot seat of first act on. Taking the hint that "Everybody needs Somebody", the audience accept Gary as being the somebody that every-body needs to start the show moving,
Now started, the next artist needs some stopping, being Terry Day, the red-hot momma carrying considerable 'tonnage'. Even the boards creak with laughter as Terry asks "Why not take ALL of me", coupled with some original shaking!
Follows London's favourite cowboy Tex Withers . . . and 24 of the 26 spotlights dim, as if paying respect to the memory of "Old Shep".
The wheel of Fortune turns again with, and by, Marcelle Dale; and also brings on the Ronnie Reynolds Combo, with yodelling to the gallery from Ronnie. Inter-national flavour is added by singer Louise Hamilton . . . and Stars and Stripes and something of which the audience will never know—it they don't know now. Climaxing the first half come Pat Curtis & Terry Long, in perfect harmony with "What Now, My Love".
After the interval the Heydeys re-open the show and eyes, Billy Kendall, first speciality to appear, features "X-Ray Eyes" and leaves the audience in the dark; singer Sally Kelly reflects that "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You". Singing Charlie Scott leads in a swinging "Caravan", which includes the great Michael Hill Trio. And without getting all cut up about it. Simba dances on glass, and turns on the fire-eating heat. For this Mary King sings "I Apologise" and "It's Not Un-usual"; whilst blonde bombshell Ricky Stevens finds that in "My Prayer" there is an answer ...
Suddenly somehow all to soon comes a Heydey Can-Can, Company Finale, and "The Queen", after almost four hours of bubbling entertainment. We awake. Criticisms? Certainly. Too long, too many singers, too many acts. Even a wrong title. But a big success, nevertheless.

Ray Donn (left), landlord of The Pegasus, Stoke Newington's leading show business pub, took his artists " Up West" to produce and direct his own " Best of Publand " at the Scala Theatre, Charlotte Street. With him are Mary King, resident entertainer, singer Ricky Stevens, and comedian Charlie Smithers.                                                                                                  Left: Pat Curtis & Terry Long

     

 

 THE BEST OF PUBLAND  No.2
Scala Theatre, Charlotte St. W1
Tuesday 11th April 1967
Produced & Directed by Ray Donn
Musical Director Monty Frank & His Orchestra.
Choreography Bob Cole


Photo taken at The Pegasus during rehearsals: L/R: Charlie Smithers, Dovantie, Billy Noyes, Glow Glow Girls, Thames City Jazzman, Pat Curtis & Terry Long, Lennie Peters, Samantha Rae, Colleen Roberts & Ray Donn
Other acts that appeared on the 2nd Publand Show were Carol Scott, Freddie Ascott & Roberta, Benny York, Lee Sutton & the cast of "Sinderella" with The sensational All-Male Pub Pantomime with Dodo Sweet, Roy Alvis, Danny O'Dell, Mark Roberts, Tommy Fisher, Guy Saville Smiler Palmer & The Six Tavenettes,
 

 

 

THE  PUBLAND SHOW  No.3
Fairfield Halls, Croydon. Surrey
Thursday 21st November 1968
Produced & Directed by Ray Donn
Musical Director Monty Frank & His Orchestra.
Choreography Bob Cole



Artistes that appeared on the 3rd Publand Show
Betty Lunn Dancers Cavelcade, Charlie Smithers, Terri & Tony, Billy Noyes, Colleen Roberts, Wayne Pritchett, Carol Scott, The Mardell Brothers,
Benny Yorke

                                                            A Croydon Show' no one will forget
RAY DONN'S third presentation of the " Publand Show" may be given the credit one day for putting Croydon on the map of public-house entertainment. For that is where self-appointed impresario Mr. Donn chose to spotlight some of the characters, who through music and song, earn part of their living entertaining in public-houses.
In the past, Mr. Donn has produced his show at the Scala Theatre in the West End. But, since he left his Pub in North London to go to the Goat, Broom Road, Shirley, Surrey, Mr. Donn was faced with the agonising decision of where to show his spectacular.
It takes him a year, one way and another, to gather together the cast of the Publand Show. He takes on the task as an aside to his job of running a public-house.
Originally, he promoted the show at the Scala as the Best of Publand on the basis that the acts he had singled out were the " best " of their particular kind to be found in pub-lic-houses.
Fine acts
Although " best" was dropped from the show at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon, it didn't detract from the fact that you would have to go a long way to find better acts in public houses.
Reason for this maybe that since many of the performers started their careers on the public-house circuit they have since branched out to other venues to display their talents. Charlie Smithers, for instance, the hard-working compere is just as likely to crop up at a Park Lane hotel where his graphic yet confidential style of story-telling has made its mark with sporting club members.
Benny Yorke, a young Scotsman, who puts one in mind of Jerry Lewis impersonating Sammy Davis, is more likely to be displaying his repertoire in the country's plusher night clubs. It may be a point of criticism that on this showing, today's public-house artists are leaning more towards the audiences who gather in sophisticated supper clubs—in itself a challenge to the authenticity of the word "Publand."
Miller style
But to show the other side of the coin along came Billy Noyes, who has inherited the style, the jokes, the songs and seemingly the suits of the original " Cheeky Chappie " the late and great Max Miller.
And Carol Scott, who may sing and play numbers by Bart and the Beatles but does so with surprisingly delicate voice for such an ample frame.
Wayne Pritchett, aided by false teeth, funny hats, grotesque noses, fake bosoms and unkempt wigs, showed some inventive and amusing mime comedy, and there were a brace of vocal duos—Terri and Tony, a cheerful husband and wife team and the Mardell Brothers with their Country and Westerns.
But, alas, few public-houses could afford a band so large or so professionally accomplished as that of Monty Frank, who provided the backing for the show.

Photo The Mardell Brothers.  

 

 

THE  PUBLAND SHOW  No.4
Lewisham Concert Hall
Sunday 23rd November 1969
Produced & Directed by Ray Donn
Musical Director Monty Frank & His Orchestra.
Choreography Bob Cole

A SORT OF COMMAND PERFORMANCE WITHOUT THE COMMAND
Publand show comes to the Lewisham Concert Hall
by Stephen Rider

Can you imagine pub entertainment without a pub? Would a drag artist be the same without the saloon bar hubbub or a blue joke as effective without a fistful of what you fancy?
To Ray Donn, licensee of The Goat at Shirley, Croydon. a pub's very special form of entertainment is just as potent outside it's very special surroundings. That is why he has presented very successful publand concerts at the Scala Theatre in the West End and Fairfield Hall, Croydon, and is planning another one for Lewisham sham Concert Hall on Sunday, November 23.
Experiment
The idea for publand concerts first came to him while he was watching the Royal Command Performance one year. "I suddenly thought, what a good idea it would be to get all the top stars from the pubs circuit together for one mammoth production ... a sort of Command Performance without the command.
The show, which was very much an experiment, was produced at the Scala and was a great success. Now 'it has become an annual event.
Although the artists in this show would go down well anywhere, the atmosphere of a place has everything to do with successful pub entertainment.
"I've seen good acts die in a pub with no atmosphere and I've seen bad acts flourish merely because the audience is in a good mood. One of the local acts appearing at the Concert Hall Show will be Bermondsey comedian Chubby Oates and his singer wife Vivienne Chering.
Chubby is an ex-journalist who broke into the variety profession via the pubs. He has since appeared in panto at Leicester with Tommy Trinder and has just returned  from a season as producer-comedian at a holiday camp, in Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire.
He said: "I and many other people owe a lot It to the pub scene, which seems to be growing bigger every week.

Picture: Chubby Oates enjoys a drink in the Havelock Arms Bermondsey, with his wife Vivienne Chering...but never stops entertaining!
Discoveries
Among the people who have been discovered performing in pubs are Ray Martine, Bob Monkhouse and Tom Jones.
Among the people who are to be discovered in the Concert Hall show are Charlie Smithers, cockney comedian, Jimmy Jones, compere vocalist and singer Sami Sarjeant.
Then, of course there are the double acts, Pat Curtis and Terry Long. Davies & Gray, The Mardell Brothers and one very special double act ... a pair of twins presented to Rav Donn bv his wife last week.

 
                                              THE "PUBLAND" SHOW TOMMY KANE reporting -
ON NOVEMBER 23rd, young publican RAY DONN paid further tribute to the many variety artists who have helped enliven the lot of the drinking public throughout the 'sixties when he presented his fourth " Publand Show" at that well-appointed theatre, the Lewisham Concert Hall.
By simple virture of the fact that the show has been the sole annual event of its kind in London during recent years, it has assumed a prestige mantle on a Club Command level. And while the young publican, quite naturally continues to plump for a publand title, he is nevertheless the first to admit that the artists invited to appear are representative of those who have also gained success in fields far beyond that of publand.
BRIGHT OPENING
The proof of the pudding was seen immediately following the Overture by MONTY FRANK & His Music: for an interwoven highlight of the leggy routine of BETTY LUNN'S gorgeous Cavalcade Dancers, assisted by singer ROY MURRAY, featured the international juggling act of YURI & TONYA. An immediate spesh set in a novel two-in-one opener, and followed by perfection in harmony from that most pleasant of boy-girl duos to be found in town, PAT CURTIS & TERRY LONG. This lovable act, making a third appearance on the show, further enhanced a fine performance with " Love, this is my Song," and the PERRY COMO hit " I know."
FUN BUNDLE
Followed that plump bundle of fun called CHUBBY GATES. And Chubby, renowned for his sock-it-to-'em style, completely shattered the audience with a clever switch in reciting that very touching monologue from yester-year of the down-and out saved from the final act by the sight of a dog even more down-and-out than himself. A superb portrayal; one that made the moral crystal clear.
Came next VIVIENNE CHERRING — and it was almost impossible to credit that the charming young lady on stage was the same young energetic tomboy of a gal called FLIP who toured the lounges not so long ago ! Her " People " was a pure gem, while her performance taken as a whole fully justified her inclusion on the solid bill.
Closing the first-half came singer JIMMY JONES, an exciting performer shortly to be launched under the new name of BILLY BUDD. His extremely good " My Way," plus an entertaining send-up of TOM JONES, prevented the usual stampede to the bar from taking place until after his final bow. Hot on the heels of the CAVALCADE LOVELIES came a double-act who hold the distinction of having appeared in three different places simultaneously in films ("Oliver!" and " Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," while on stage as straight actors at the Mermaid Theatre), DA VIES & GRAY. These laughable knockabout comics brought much of the heyday of COLLINS MUSIC HALL back to life again before their big finish, a well-hoofed " Bye Bye Blues."
TOP SONGSTERS
Followed by SAMI SERJEANT and a personal interest inasmuch that this was the pen that had voted the songstress tops in a pub contest way back in '67 while heralding a new find. Since then, this lovely lass has progressed to starring in the West End and has, too, won a Granada TV award as the most promising girl singer for '69. Dressed this night in a stunning white creation, Sami demonstrated her considerable talent with a novel version of " Those were the days " and a dramatic version of " If you go away" before making way for one of the most exciting vocal duos to hit the London scene for some time, THE MARDELL BROTHERS. "Cousin of mine" Morocco," "Nobody's Child" and a rip-roaring medley of some great old singalongs gave the reason why this big hit from the previous show were back again.
CHARLIE BOY
The final Star Spot fell to the show's compere; a natural comedian whose name, already legendary in the East End, is now breaking out in top spot at top places in the South, the one and only CHARLIE SMITHERS. That the lad from Hoxton has, by invitation, compered every show to date is so much an acknowledgement of his prowess that no more need, or can, be said — except that stardom awaits.
And so The Finale, with more than a thousand voices raised in acclaim; the credits to Producer / Director RAY DONN, Asst. Dir. JOE ROBERTS, MD MONTY FRANK, Choreography BOB COLE, The Cavalcade MD JACK UPSOM; acknowledgements to BOB FOX (Civic Recreation Officer), JOHN MAUDE (Ents Officer) ERIC GANSLER (House Manager); and with The National Anthem, the Publand Show bowed out of that wonderful variety decade called "The Swinging Sixties." .
 

THE  PUBLAND SHOW  No.5
Lewisham Concert Hall
Wednesday 4th November 1970
Produced & Directed by Ray Donn
Associate Producer Joe Roberts
Musical Director Monty Frank & His Orchestra.

GOOD LUCK from HM THE QUEEN
LONDON'S publand entertainers for the fifth year running, are to have their own "Command Performance" show. And impresario Ray Donn has a letter of good wishes and good luck to the performers from none other than Her Majesty The Queen.
The show, to be staged at Lewisham Concert Hall next Wednesday at 7.45 p.m., has a bill of first-rate full-time unsung professional artistes who appear in lounge and saloon bar entertainments as well as night clubs and cabarets.
Go-ahead Ray Donn, who lives at Charlton, is also director of the Valley Club — the social club of Charlton Athletic Football team. Ray tells me that Theo Foley and some of the first team will be attending the performance.
OUTSTANDING
Included on the bill are, Laurie Lee, an outstanding drag artiste, Coleeri Roberts, a big hit as a singer in cabaret and publand; Mary King, personality girl and commere; Jimmy Jones, a vocalist who has appeared on TV's "Opportunity Knocks"; The Mission Belles, an all-girl vocal and instrumental group; and Charlie Smithers a cockney comedian.
Added glamour will be coming from the Grosvenor Girls who dance in the famous seaside "Dazzle" shows and cabarets. The Monty Frank Orchestra will be playing in the pit.
BUDDING
Ray Donn assures me that all the artists appearing are the real 'tops' of London's publand. They were selected from hundreds of budding performers.
Glancing through the bill I was disappointed to find no Greenwich or Woolwich-based acts in it. Laurie Lee, who lives at Deptford is the nearest.
What about digging around our district, Mr. Donn, and holding a special command performance next year at, say, Woolwich Town Hall or the big Greenwich Borough Hall.
This type of entertainment should go down well in these parts.
 
The Publand Show
Came the 5th Annual " PUBLAND SHOW " at Lewisham Concert Hall . . . and the " DAZZLE " flloorshow dancers, THE GROSVENOR GIRLS, together with their lead singer, worked up a quick interest with their " You'd better love me white you may" routine on a stage decorated like a pub complete with bar and barman in one corner and the excellent MONTY FRANKS BAND in the other.
Thrown into the deep end of first-on entered that personality songstress MARYLIN KING. Shrewd opening songs such as " Bye Bye Black-~ bird " " Bill Bailley " and " Second-hand Rose," from the redhead dressed in a pale green gown set off by a fluffy white boa saw the audience relaxed and paved the way for expected vocal-duo MIKE AND SONIA. Unfortunately, Sonia had been taken ill prior to the show and it was left to Mike to enter with " Pretty Woman " and to demonstrate with one voice and guitar that even half of this act was still something to cheer about.
To the sounds, of what seemed to be "In a Persian Market" with trickery added, in galloped the tremendously visual magician ALI BONGO. Gigantic Persian slippers with turned-up toes, blue cloak, black tights, and a stove-pipe turban were but a few of the eye-catching props used by the performer who demonstrated that magicians are not always glued-to-one-spot folk but comedians even, and able to put a large stage to full use. As the shriek of Araby, AM was Variety at its best. So, too, were those light-hearted lads of laughter OLIVER & TWIST. Their stand-up coupled to a spot of knockabout had the audience laughing all the way to the bar at the close of the first-half.
To re-open came the " Dazzle " dancers . . . then on to four smash-hit performances in succession from The MISSION BELLES, JIMMY JONES, LAURIE LEE, and COLLEEN ROBERTS. In their shiny blue trouser suits, the four Belles from former boxing champion Joe Lucy's pub in the East End delivered vocal-instrumentals of note . . . the mauve-suited JIMMY, a big hit from the previous show, belted across a performance in which " Love me Tonight" and " I who have Nothing " were outstanding. LAURIE, the fabulous fraud in a fabulous blue creation, not only charmed the men folk and made the girls roar with laughter at his better-than-the-average script, he also struck a might blow for female impersonators with his " I'm a boy being a girl" performance . . . and the final artist of the evening, COLLEEN, produced a dramatic singing performance. The audience were shattered by the wonderful as large as life performance from the " Opportunity Knocks " winner. And then, of course, there was the pub-land legend himself, CHARLIE SMITHERS, the look at life comedian who has compered every show to date.
Among personalities together backstage to congratulate the artists at a champagne toast were ALBERT STEVENSON (BBC TV), DAVID LEVER (Ponting Ents.), and Miss DORIS BARRY (Opportunity Knocks). The show, in aid of the INDEPENDENT ADOPTION SOCIETY, was presented by RAY DONN, associate producer JOE ROBERTS; Musical Direction by MONTY FRANK; MD for The Grosvenor Girls (" Dazzle " floorshow dancers), who were presented by ERIC & BRENDA ROSS in association with BETTY LUNN, was BERTRAM PHILLIPS.
TOMMY KANE The Stage

PUBLAND Part Two 1971 - 1977

PUBLAND Part One 1966 - 1970

PUBLAND Part Three 1978 - 1980

Contact: ray@donn.co.uk

 

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