PUBLAND Part One 1966 - 1970

PUBLAND Part Two 1971 - 1977

PUBLAND Part Three 1978 - 1980

Lewisham Concert Hall
Wednesday 3rd November 1971
Produced & Directed by Ray Donn
Associate Producer Joe Roberts
Musical Director Graham Todd & His Orchestra.

                                                                 THE MAGIC OF PUBLAND by FRANK DURHAM
Tonight you will see something that can never happen any other time, any other place. For a bouncing, beaming Jewish part-time impresario called Ray Donn has waved a magic microphone and transformed the spell of publand to the conventional stage. It's all there ... the jokes tinged with a subtle blue as delicate as the cigarette smoke in the public bar. There's life, lusty, lively, heady as a pint of best. The result, a genuine, rip-roaring, down-to-earth entertainment that brings coach parties racing in from the far corners of London.
This is how it all began—music hall that is. In the 19th century, some be whiskered Ray Donn of the time decided to mix a little music and humour with his beer. Soon the bubbling combination went to London's head. In time, the acts moved out of the pubs and into the halls. And it was in those very halls that it all faded and died when the television monster strode upon the show-business scene.
Now the thing has gone the whole cycle. Entertainment is finding new life in the pubs.
Tonight, you can see how the publand scene has, once again, grown up. There is proper lighting, posh music, professional expertise. The old Max Miller touch complete with saucy twinkle and risque aside is back. When Billy Noyes strides the stage tonight, the old music hall fans will again get a whiff of the old Met in the Edgware Road. "Mary from the Dairy"? Remember?
The humour is as broad as the Thames at Greenwich. Just take a gander at Alvis and Odell. In the old days they would be labelled "female impersonators". Today, they're a drag, in the most hilarious way.
Over lording the whole junket tonight is Jimmy Jones. Jimmy is to the Montague Arms, New Cross, as Sinatra is to Vegas. In the audience will be many Jimmy fans . . . they follow him everywhere on the strict understanding that his jokes are funny.
Jimmy in action is a pulverising joke machine. Before you can laugh at one, another one hits you over the head. He sings a nice song, too. It all adds up to a good pub compere.
And, right from the heart of the East End, comes Charlie Scott. Charlie takes the old songs and turns them into gold.
When you turn to the whole list of publanders on the programme, it is like looking at a menu full of meat and sweet.
So, sit back and . . . welcome to publand.
Picture: Compere Jimmy Jones


Artistes that appeared on the 6th Publand Show
Betty Lunn Dancers, Jimmy Jones, The Saddle Tramps, Billy Noyes, Jo Peters, Terry Rogers & Bobby,
Alvis & Odell, Mike & Sonja, Mike Brown, Charlie Scott.
Graham Todd & His Orchestra.

Review by Tommy Kane "The Stage"
In their way the pubs reflect current tastes in entertainment, at least in the London area, better than theatres and clubs, and it would be true to say that if a foreign journalist had been told by his paper to investigate what Londoners liked he could not have done better than visit RAY DONN'S sixth "Publand Show" at Lewisham Concert Hall on November 3rd.
He would have found that Cockneys preferred their humour broad and strong as typified here by compere-vocalist JIMMY JONES, comedian-impressionist MIKE BROWN drag duo ALVIS AND ODELL and ventriloquist,
TERRI ROGERS, all of whom required very little time to gauge the feeling of their audience.
Of these, only Jimmy Jones, resident at the Montague Arms. Peckham, is permanently ensconced in publand, for Terri Rogers has recently been in Gar-many, Alvis and Odell do a good deal of cabaret work and Mike Brown has been developing a second string to his bow as a straight actor.
BILLY NOYES, the fifth comedy act on show, represents what is still a strong nostalgic interest in music hall, for although he is as broad as the others his humour is devised as a loving tribute to the late MAX MILLER, whom he resembles in every respect, from the flowered silk suit to the slow turn on the ball of the foot that Max always kidded his audiences was ballet.
On the vocal front, our visitor would have come to the conclusion that sentiment embellished with a jazz or Country and Western touch was favourite, only MIKE and SONYA really steeping themselves in the pop idiom with big emotional versions of " You've Lost That Loving Feeling" and " It's Over." Both JOE PETERS and CHARLIE SCOTT take their inspiration from what one might call the swinging Las Vegas school of singers — and vary nice too — while the spiritual home of the SADDLE TRAMPS is obviously in Nashville, their spot convincing me that here is one type of music in which the British are every bit as good as the Americans.
The BETTY LUNN DANCERS opened each half and there was a great thick accompanying sound from the seven-piece band led by pianist GRAHAM TODD.



(No Show 1972-1973)
Victoria Palace Theatre SW1
Sunday 29th September 1974
Produced & Directed by Ray Donn
Associate Producer Joe Roberts
Musical Director Barry Goynes

                                                 "THE PUBLAND SHOW STORY" by Tommy Kane
As many a Gentleman (and indeed, as many a Lady) has observed from experience, there are far more pleasures to be found in a pub than are to be found in the glass . . .
Twas ever thus, of course. And never more so, during the early 'sixties, than at a North London pub, "The Pegasus". Therein, a young landlord named Ray Donn presented artistry and musical entertainment seven days a week and to such extent that he and his activities were featured on several occasions in both the British and American press.
Like many of his predecessors in Ale-House entertainment history, Ray Donn proved to be a true enthusiast of live variety. And during his stay at the house he conceived the idea of a stage show that would both serve, and be seen, as an appreciation of the talented but unknown performers on the publand platforms.
On June 7th, 1966, his trembling idea became a solid reality when THE PUBLAND SHOW made its debut at the now bygone Scala Theatre. A mammoth production, the show featured sixteen acts during a period of four hours, and drew a capacity audience comprised of enthusiastic supporters from publand and interested show business personalities. Although intended as a once only show, its success was such that its pioneer bowed to the pressure of demand to present the show as an annual event.
Thus, eight years ago, was born THE PUBLAND SHOW. Since which, we remember, publand has evolved as an acceptable field of showbiz employment, with star names and top groups to help swell the vast number of performers to be found on the scene.
Despite the changes in publand entertainment since 1966, however, even though most artists from publand can also be seen in clubs, summer seasons, pantos, cabaret, THE PUBLAND SHOW continues to retain as its main theme the original intent—a practical gesture of appreciation of artists who play to, and please, the pub customers . . .
Past venues for the show have also included the massive Fairfield Hall, Croydon, and the Lewisham Concert Hall. Tonight, and to the delight of Ray Donn, the artists are able to step up into the kind of limelight that only a first-class variety theatre such as The Victoria Palace can offer. And, as the name of the game remains, quite simply, "entertainment", so it follows that the simple wish of all connected with the event is that YOU, the welcome and vital audience, find yourselves able to sit back, to relax, and to enjoy this, "THE 1974 PUBLAND SHOW".
Ladies and Gentlemen your Very Good Health!

Artistes that appeared on the 7th Publand Show
The Gaytimers Dancers, Dale Warren , The Moonshine Six, Terry Seabrook, Pat & Kay, Gay Brielle, Bob Curtiss, Brian Royal.
The Bryan Williamson Band.

                                             THE STAGE aqd TELEVISION TODAY, October 3rd 1974
At the Victoria Palace theatre on September 29, RAY DONN presented his annual "Publand Show'' evening before a remarkable audience comprised of showbiz personalities and representatives, critics, regular theatre-goers, the curious, and coachloads of enthusiastic supporters from pub-land.
A night of variety in aid of the Entertainment Artistes Benevolent Fund & The Independent Adoption Society in which the performers represented those to be found in the locals and elsewhere a night which demonstrated, once again, the ability of the show to generate an atmosphere of magic and fascination almost akin to that of a command performance.
The last-minute confrontation by an ancient law prohibiting public dancing in GLC area halls on Sundays produced a frustration for Ray, who — and determined that 'the show must go on — was forced to cancel THE GAYTIM.ERS" dance troupe from the line-up and to insert an apology slip into his fine souvenir programme.
But, in the best traditions, the show opened . . . with THE MOONSHINE SIX," a jazz ensemble typical of pub-land. Fine musicians (three wind, two string, one percussion), the boys may well have appeared to the casual critic to have been rather static and short on showmanship when-ever a solo cut in. But with jazz, of course, the music is ALL. And whether it was a stomp in "I'm confessing that I love you," or a blockbusting "Tiger Rag, which came as a tremendous opener for the show, they remained consistent throughout.
A credit to the jazz scene, the boys finally bowed out to loud, warm-hearted applause.
Act two, magician TERRY SEA-BROOKE, billed "for amazement only,'' but whose comedy was everyone s glass of cheer. His was a performance frothing with class and quality; and so slick was his aud. part, routine at his unwitting victim invited  from the audience became Publand Storms The Palace almost a comedy partner in it. Withal, a top-flight comedy magician, and vastly enjoyed from start to finish, was Terry.
Followed PAT & KAY, who (to quote myself) were "a very popular twosome who mixed together a tinkling piano, a well-sung song, and a large chunk of personality, to produce the happy-go-lucky kind o? entertainment that never fails to please." On song this night, Pat produced flair and showmanship to heighten his rendering of "She" (you could have heard a pin drop) and other vocal delights. And with Kay-giving with "The Sting" in a piano solo, the pleasant duo truly justified their billing and share of the applause.
Opening the second half with his , own spot came the well-dressed compere for the show, DALE WARREN. His superb quick-change impressions routine saw a veritable parade of personalities chasing each other in and out of laugh-a-second gags and one-liners in what was altogether, a feat of entertaining well worth anyone's money.
In the absence of "The Gaytimers," it was left very much to the sweet and lovely young GAY BRIELLE to provide the feminine interest. Dressed in a vivid blue trouser costume, the songstress used the big stage well in her opening swayer "Oh Babe, what would you say?" and for an answer immediately captured the hearts and affections of the audience. Delightful throughout, her somewhat femme fatale finale "Until it's time for you to go" amply demonstrated what a bright future awaits this youngster who can do no wrong in my eyes.
Accompanying Gay this night,
and in addition to the band, were two fine musicians in GWEN LEE (piano) and MARTYN LEE (Guitar).
Next on, comedian BOB CURTISS, who displayed throughout his uproarious (if slightly earthy) stand-up spot a nice sense of timing. Still something of a newcomer to the game in actual years on the stage perhaps, is Bob. But he commanded the stage with great authority and ease, and came across as a distinctive personality well worth the spotlight and the great applause.
And then, as the final artist entranced, the well-known Gremlins of Publand struck as if dead on cue! For from the moment singer BRIAN "BUTCH" ROYAL launched into "Beautiful Day" the hand microphone crackled, died, blurted, hummed, and did all in its electrical power to thwart what the singer had set his heart on, the performance of his life.
To the great relief of the willing audience, however, the artist remained unperturbed switched mikes offered "C'Mon over to my house," and followed up with three absolute showstoppers in "Solitaire" "Danny Boy," and (a nice false tab here) "Somewhere over the Rainbow."
At the close of his performance the audience simply erupted, with "Butch'' so deeply touched by the response that he was nearly in tears! But oh yes, they are beautiful songs; and they were beautifully sung!
The accompanists for the entire show were the very competent musicians of THE BRYAN WILLIAMSON BAND. And with a happy Ray Donn joining the cast for the final curtain, so came to an end the 1974 "Publand "Show" . . .Tommy Kane
Pictures Above:  Dale Warren, Pat & Kay, Brian Williamson Band.                                                                      The Moonshine Six, Gay Brielle.

Brian "Butch" Royal

Bob Curtiss

Terry Seabrook



Victoria Palace Theatre SW1
Sunday 16th November 1975
Produced & Directed by Ray Donn
Musical Director Barry Goynes

RAY DONN has announced the artists who will be appearing in the "1975 PUBLAND SHOW". The full list is: RON TWIST (compere), "THE WELTONS" (young musical entertainers), TONY STANLEY (comedian-impressionist), CANDY DU BARRY (female impersonator), ROGER DE COURCY (comedy entertainer), DAVID GOLD (male singer, representing the Ken Scott Pub Circuit), "ELLIE" (three-girl singing group, representing the Wheatley Taverns circuit), and the as-yet-to-be-declared winner of the St. George's Taverns Nationwide 1975 Talent Contest (the final takes place on October 22).The BRIAN WILLIAMSON BAND again accompany the show, which takes place at the VICTORIA PALACE on November 16th.
Proceeds from the show are to be donated to two charitable organisations.

Artistes that appeared on the 8th Publand Show
 Ronnie Twist , The Weltons, Tony Stanley, Candy Du Barry, Dave Gold, Roger De Courcey, Ellie, Larry Stone.
The Bryan Williamson Band.

                                                                                            THE 1975 PUBLAND SHOW
On the night television presented a recording of the Royal Variety Command Performance, Ray Donn presented publand's equivalent (less Royalty!) live at the Victoria Palace with his "1975 PUBLAND SHOW." And not even the wet. wild, and windy weather could prevent the publand enthusiasts from turning up in force, with the coach parties creating traffic jams and the large queue outside the theatre to publicise the fact that live pub variety had hit town in a big way! Indeed, "enthusiastic" must be the word to describe the packed audience, for each act received loud and lasting applause whatever their standing. First on. four entertaining youngsters in "The Weltons." a family vocal/musical act ranging in years from thirteen down to eight - Steve. Paul. Julie and Mark ("the mighty maggot!"!, all well-dressed and swinging away merrily in songs such as "Tweedle-Lee-Dee" and others. Certainly their opening spot was too long for any purist: but certainly, too. their performance was both good and novel enough to earn them the applause it did. Yes. four talented children are The Weltons.
No artist ever likes to follow children on a show, but follow Tony Stanley did - and how. with vocals, singing impressions, superb audience participation comedy vent spot, and displaying a fine accomplishment in bridging the notorious "gap" between theatre stage and audience. A notable comedy act in all from an experienced performer ever increasing in stature: his impression of Donald Duck singing "My Way" was enough to touch the heartstrings.
A change of style, spectacle, and costumes, was had with mime artist and female impersonator Candy Du Barry, whose act was not entirely suited to the setting unfortunately in that his costume changes meant total disappearances from the stage for vital seconds, for in one dancing sketch with assistant Fred Latimer dressed in a gorilla's costume, the poor gorilla tripped over the footlights and fell backwards out of sight down into the orchestra pit! An alarming, nasty, moment was this. But thankfully, Fred the gorilla was not seriously hurt and Candy and the show went on in the best traditions, with a fascinating finale spectacle by way of strobe lighting and Candy in flourishing theatrical movements for his "Jesus Christ, Superstar."
Representing the Ken Scott pub circuit and the male singers in publand entered Dave Gold, with a big and powerful voice and who followed in great part the style of presentation set by the one and only Tom Jones. Dave first built up his army of fans as a member of clublands popular "Eden Brothers" act. and as the response evidenced this night he is still adding to those fans in his being a solo turn.
Well-built, and good-looking, the singer also scored with change of tempo numbers such as "We love each other" and "You've got a friend" - and here, he found time to introduce top musician Gil Lucas (co-founder of publands famed "Migil Five" in the sixties) as one such friend sitting in the audience.
From song to laughter, with Roger De Courcy and his vent act featuring "Pooh" the Teddy Bear. Area! beauty of an act was this, with material aimed at both midriff and mind - indeed, the bear nearly stole the show, for the laughter and giggles which rang out non-stop during the act started from the moment Roger asked in all innocence "Why do they call you Pooh...?" and the bear answered defiantly "-'cos I stink!" What a terror was Teddy, and what an artist was Roger!
The second family act on the bill came with "Ellie." the singing trio of sisters whose career has been in the ascendant since first they were hailed in THE STAGE as the young Hope Sisters. Dressed in super backless gowns of that colour once taboo with so many artists in the theatre - green - the sisters Kathy. Chris and Elaine, opened with a beat presentation perhaps more for group audiences than for variety audiences (an indication this of their recent work with top record groups "Mud" and "Paper Lace") and moved on to an excelled understanding with
this audience in "I Understand" entwined with "Auld Acquaintance."
Beautiful to look at. with a nice casual choreography, and easy to listen to. "Ellie" represented the Wheatley Taverns circuit and justified their applause.
So to the final act on the bill, pianist-entertainer Larry Stone, the television winner of the "Pub Entertainer of the Year" talent show and alas doomed from the start, because of a promise kept, to be something of an anti-climax.
The promise, made by Ray Donn. had been to feature the "Pub Entertainer" contest winner, whoever it was. as top of the bill. But Larry, with the kind of act that scores in clubs, was in the wrong place on this theatre show, and the sound effects, echo gimmicks, and falsetto singing, were all matters which nibbled away the atmosphere built up during the night. This is not to imply criticism of an artist, of course, for the act contained a deal of entertainment interest. Certainly the artist would have featured better earlier in the show - but , that's showbiz, and all sympathies to Larry!
Spot on throughout were the accompanying musicians, the seven strong Bryan Williamson Band. And in comedian Ronnie Twist, as compere, was a personality whose quick and cheerful style of comedy and intros suited the show like a glove. In this respect Ronnie Twist contributed an enormous amount to both the continuity and goodly success of the event, which, if it is to be judged soberly and from the critic's viewpoint, was somewhat lightweight for a variety show. Certainly room must be made for one or two truly dominant variety personalities if it is to continue on its merry way as publand's premier theatrical event - and I've no doubt that it will!
Review by Tommy Kane
Pictures Above: The Weltons, Candy Du Barry, Ellie.                                                                                                        Tony Stanley, Dave Gold.

Ronnie Twist

Roger De Courcey

Larry Stone


Victoria Palace Theatre SW1
Sunday 14th November 1976
Produced & Directed by Ray Donn
Musical Director Barry Goynes

                                 THE 10th ANNIVERSARY SHOW
Publand's very own show will be staged at the Victoria Palace, Victoria Street, SW1 on Sunday, November 14th. If you have not been to see one of these shows that have been an annual event for the past 9 years, you still just have time to get a ticket . . . but hurry, they are going like hot cakes. Prices range from a £1 to £2.50, and are available from 858 1495 or 834 1317.
The whole show is presented by Ray Donn, and this year being its 10th anniversary, he has returned acts who have appeared before in his pub-land shows. Hosts for the evening are Charlie Smithers and Jimmy Jones. They will introduce the following top line acts: Yuri and Tonya, Roger De Courcey and Nookie, the Mardell Brothers, Brian "Butch" Royal, Carol Lee Scott and Wayne Pritchett. Music for the show provided by the Bryan Williamson Band. The show starts at 7.30 p.m., all monies will be going to combined charities, as in previous years.

Charlie Smithers

Jimmy Jones

Yuri & Tonya

Brian Royal

Mardell Brothers

Wayne Pritchett

Carol Scott

Roger De Courcey

The Bryan Williamson Band

                                                                                10th Year PUBLAND SHOW TRIUMPHS
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men Gang aft a-gley ..." And on the morning of the tenth anniversary of THE PUBLAND SHOW it looked very much as if a king-sized flop was in store for a capacity audience at the VICTORIA PALACE. The show's first half compere, comedian-singer JIMMY JONES, unable to appear and both songstress-comedienne CAROL LEE SCOTT and singer BRIAN "BUTCH" ROYAL were down with 'flu and laryngitis.
But such are friendships and loyalties that producer Ray Donn found himself able to stroll around singing "I'll get by with a little help from my friends". The second half compere, star comedy personality CHARLIE SMITHERS, took over as host for the entire show and also filled the vacant Jones spot . . . gorgeous super-singer THERESA (TERRI) STEVENS stood in for Carol at a minute's notice ... and the ever loyal Royal, "Butch", staggered along to perform, hep to the eyebrows with anti-biotics.
Also joining the audience to lend a personal encouragement were three hits from previous shows in star LENNIE PETERS, singer DAVE GOLD, and singer GARY PETERS - the latter being the very first act to step out in the show. And when the curtain finally rose at 7.30 pm before the packed audience (perhaps wrongly summed up by one cheerful Cockney lass as "we must be the biggest collection of boozers in London!") it revealed a triumph over adversity and some outstanding performances . . .Beginning with YURI & TONYA, a speciality act supreme in its field of juggling, balancing, and trick cycling. Both colourful and visual, this long-established act glued all eyes on stage with a superb display of the arts and the applause from the Publand "Command" audience suggested that Yuri & Tonya really ought also to have been featured in the Royal Variety Command Show twenty-four hours later.
Followed Brian Royal, who forty-eight hours earlier had been speechless and yet who warbled his way through some tonsil-taxing favourites such as "Sixteen" and "Red Red Wine". His was a personal double triumph—one over illness, and one in his performance, and for this the sweat-drenched singer received a dose of the best medicine of all, a resounding applause.
Closing the first-half were the MAR-DELL BROTHERS TERRY & WALLY, and who for the benefit of all who've ever pedalled from London to South-end included their famed spot with "the bike". Complete with a backing trio of three harmony singers in an act of song and comedy, The Mardell boys came across as a brash, bright, and breezy act with some slick touches and in the chuckles "n smiles dept also demonstrated at its very best the difficult art of crosstalk.
Making an unusual entrance was the unusual act. Master of Mime WAYNE PRITCHETT, who galloped in via the centre aisle to tackle the nigh-impossible of a silent solo mime on a theatre stage devoid of props. That Wayne managed to convey both the art and stories across the gap was an achievement, and while the belly-laughs of his old pub act were missing his performance was both interesting and educational - an offering of quality no less, from an artist now deeply involved in tutoring and direction.
Entrancing Theresa Stevens, the singer-impressionist making her debut in the show and who, in standing in at the last minute for the sick Carol, revealed vocally a talent "River Deep, Mountain High". Why this artist is not better-known to the public is one of the usual frustrating mysteries of showbiz, for be it in looks, presentation, vocals, or class, Theresa stands head and shoulders above the crowd. Dressed in a beautiful yellow gown, the attractive songstress added a great and feminine impact to the show.
The final hit on this night of all-stars was ROGER de COURCEY with NOOKIE THE BEAR, experienced the first part of a showbiz fairy-tale of two "Commands in 24 hours, with an appearance to follow in the ROYAL VARIETY SHOW at the Palladium. An immaculate, experienced artist, Roger has produced a truly magnetic puppet personality in his rascal of a bear, and it is to his great credit as a performer that he never draws the attention away from his prop. One glorious, classic, moment to illustrate this came when the spotlight narrowed, centred on the prop, and completely obliterated the artist. "What d'you think I am - a blinking moth!" cried out the prop!
Linking each act and performing a spot in each half, was star comedy personality Charlie Smithers, for whom the night had a special meaning. It was Charlie, we remember, who hosted the first and early "Publand Shows" as an unknown, and it was no doubt this thought which prompted producer Ray Donn to write in the programme " . . .the fact that I have a deeper sense of personal pleasure than usual in their presence here with us this evening is due to the sober and sentimental reflection that among them are friends who encouraged me in my publand show thinking in 1966". It is not unfair to say that while Charlie tried to tone down his act on the night he still could not avoid being hailed by the audience as the star of the bill.
Accompanying the show for the third consecutive year were twelve smartly-dressed musicians in THE BRYAN WILLIAMSON Band. As they again proved throughout the night, they are a true asset and top performers in their own right — JOHN ELDRED, ROY CARMAN, LES MORRIS (trumpets), KEN GRAY (trombone), COLIN HICKMAN, LES SIMMONS, STAN BATHURST (saxes), BARRY GOYNS (orqan), MICK WALTER (bass guitar), DAVE WHITE (Rhythm Guitar), KEVIN TOWNEND (percussion), and BRYAN WILLIAMSON (drums).
Comment: Publand's premier theatrical event, with each act a pub entertainer of the year and able to appear in a setting which affords dignity. A success supported for ten years by the people; a credit to light entertainment.
Review by TOMMY KANE "The Stage"


Victoria Palace Theatre SW1
Sunday 14th November 1977
Produced & Directed by Ray Donn
Musical Director Barry Goynes

                                                                 AN IDEA 11 YEARS AGO - NOW IT'S AN INSTITUTION
It was on December 10, 1963, that I first met RAY DONN, and if you're wondering how I am so certain about the date it is because I am looking at a programme headed "Pegasus Music Hall Lounge. Ray Donn presents a Grand Charity Show in aid of the National Childrens Home and Orphanage."
That description contains some key words - "music hall," "charity," "children" — which are very important in summing up the outlook, interests and character of a man who has done more than anybody else to put pub entertainment on the map. That 1963 event - the bill included, by the way, JULIE DE MARCO, SALLY KELLY, BENNY NIGHTINGALE, ALAN BEALE and CANDY MAYE - probably gave Ray the initial idea for "THE PUBLAND SHOW." At that time he and his wife Pat had not been in the licensed trade long, but it did not take a great deal of time for him to realise that pubs and entertainment made a natural partnership. In the months that followed that show I found myself often popping into the Pegasus on my way to the West End clubs, for there was always a new act or two and a lively, friendly atmosphere.
Then one night at the beginning of 1966 Ray took me into a corner and said he wanted to put on a show in a theatre, preferably in Central London, so that pub artists could have a chance of GOOD CHOICE His choice of compere, for instance, fell upon a comedian of whom I had barely heard and certainly never seen, CHARLIE SMITHERS, who at that time was resident mainly at the FARLEIGH ARMS in Stoke Newington. Those who joined Charlie on that first Scala show were RICKY STEVENS, MARY (later MARILYN) KING, SIMBA AND HER SNAKES. BILLY KENDAL, PAT CURTIS and TERRY LONG, TEX WITHERS, CHARLIE SCOTT (who now has a pub of his own), SALLY-KELLY, TERRY DAY, LOUISE HAMILTON, MARCELLE DALE, THE RONNIE REYNOLDS COMBO, GARY PETERS and a line of dancers supplied by STEVE CLARK of the CLARK BROTHERS.
Because it was presented on a Tuesday, a traditional night off in the licensed trade, the support from Ray's colleagues in the business was immense, and there were encouraging murmurs from the entertainment world as well, definitely enough to have Ray went on, again at the Scala on April 11 and gave an early opportunity to LENNIE PETERS, more of a star in the Northern clubs in those days, and also to BENNY YORKE [who had just changed his name from BENNY WARD) and CAROL LEE SCOTT. A novelty in that I show was the all-male pantomime "CINDERELLA" from the UNION TAVERN, Camberwell, presented by LEE SUTTON and starring AtVIS AND O'DELL. The Scala was demolished, Hay himself, after a spell of illness, left the Pegasus and moved to the GOAT.Shirley, near Croydon, but "The Publand Show," as it then came to be called, continued. One year it was at the FAIRFIELD HALL, Croydon, for three years it was at LEWISHAM CONCERT HALL, and for two years, because Ray and Pat were bringing up their family and establishing themselves at the VALLEY CLUB, Charlton, it was not staged at all. But it came back in a big way in 1974 at its present home, the VICTORIA PALACE, the perfect theatre. with its warm music hall atmosphere, and where it will be presented next Sunday, the bill comprising CHARLIE SMITHERS. who has appeared in nearly performing in front of a larger audience and bookers could see for themselves the quality of publand talent. Did I know of a suitable theatre? Had I got any suggestions for suitable acts? "What about the SCALA?" I replied. "It's big, it's in the West End, and apart from 'Peter Pan' it's used mainly by amateur operatic companies." Only a couple of days later Ray was on the phone. "I've booked the Scala," he said. "Look in when you're next passing and we'll talk about the show." And so the first "Publand Show" -except that in those days it was called "The Best of Publand" - took the stage on June 7,1966. In the planning stages it was obvious that Ray knew far more about pub acts than I did, for not only was he keeping an eagle eye on the artists who appeared at his own pub but he was spending two or three nights a week at practically all the other pubs in North London.
The strange thing about "The Publand Show is that it retains its personal touch, being very much RAY DONN'S show. But this is no ego trip on Ray's part. He loves show business but harbours no great ambitions to be a top impresario, because he loves people more, and helping those less fortunate than himself. The show has always been angled towards charity, particularly the Independent Adoption Society, in which he has a close personal interest, and
This year the show also assists the ENTERTAINMENT ARTISTES BENEVOLENT FUND and the Queen's SILVER JUBILEE APPEAL, and the proceeds will be further boosted by the sales of a LIVE LP.
Though he obviously takes advice and recommendations about the artists he books, his selections are a real personal choice for the most part and if it is something of a command performance, everybody seems to be happy to obey Ray's command.
His record as a talent spotter is by no means negligible, as a glance at past programmes will prove — JIMMY JONES, CHUBBY DATES, THE MARDELL BROTHERS, ALI BONGO, TERRI ROGERS, JO PETERS, BOB CURTISS, TERRY SEABROOK, DALE WARREN, BRIAN ROYAL, WAYNE PRITCHETT, CAROL LEE SCOTT, and. perhaps most notably, ROGER DE COURCEY.
All these, and many more, are now established performers partly as a result of Ray's interest and encouragement.
Above all, he has certainly proved the point, which we both agreed on back in the early Sixties, that the pubs are a natural training ground for show business talent.

                                                                        1977 PUBLAND SHOW Review by Tommy Kane
So to the VICTORIA PALACE on November 13th for the eleventh presentation of "THE PUBLAND SHOW"; a show long since recognised as publand's premier theatrical event, and as such, one of publand's great entertainment success stories. (Indeed, as success breeds success, so each year the show has attracted a growth following while gaining in stature as a publand "Command"; and both producer RAY DONN and the show's supporters continue to be swept along on the crest of a roller coaster once a small ripple created on the surface of the showbiz dea by the casting of a publican's pebble.)
This year, to mark the occasion of the QUEEN'S SILVER JUBILEE, Ray Donn produced a souvenir programme of superb 32-page proportions, included in which was the letter from Her Majesty's Private Secretary quoted in part because
its wish proved so true — "Her Majesty . . . sends her best wishes for a successful and enjoyable show." I addition, Ray had arranged for the show to be recorded live in .order that sales of a souvenir LP could help swell the contribution to the combined charities — and with 56 microphones hidden on stage it presented the engineers with quite a few technical problems!
The big, colourful, brassy sounds of the red-shirted BRYAN WILLIAMSON BAND heralded the opening of the show, and a packed, enthusiastic house .gave a warm reception to compere CHARLIE SMITHERS and the first artist to be introduced, rising young lady of song ANNETTE MASON. Very sweet and attractive, the fifteen-year-old Annette demonstrated a clear, strong, and pleasant-sounding voice, coupled to a confident approach and an awareness of the theatre stage; numbers such as "I Love to Love," "Feelings," and Jolson sing-along made for an applause that will obviously have her father, tenor LEO MASON, looking to his laurels ere long!
Following Annette, another young act almost as new to the game in GARY WILMOT & JUDY - a delightful and refreshingboy/girl partnership which fairly bubbled with happiness, enthusiasm, and energy throughout a routine of impressions, songs,, comedy, dancing, and a spot of tap. An all-round act with fun to the fore, Gary and Judy put across the real secret of the show's continued success in being artists actually seen to be enjoying the entertainment they served up. The response they sought was assured long before they closed, back in the old routine.
As a direct opposite to the above two acts, to close the first half came the experienced COLIN STEVENS & SOUNDS AROUND, a six-strong vocal/musical group dressed to kill in white suits and yellow ruffles and who immediately delivered the reason for their reputation as a big draw at their residency "THE CIRCUS TAVERN/' Beautiful in sounds, very tight vocally and musically and with lead guitar DEV DOUGLAS also featuring, Colin Stevens & Sounds Around became the smash-hit of the evening, climaxing with a tremendous "Music" and to roars of more and almost hysterical pleas from female fans.
Although no emotion showed on the face of WHEATLEY TAVERNS boss BOB WHEA-TLEY, seated in a box, he must have been inwardly delighted at the humdinger performance by his resident attraction . . . they demonstrated that television did not "Meet and Greet" publand's stars by a long chalk in the recent TV transmission!
Opening the second half came a cool, slinky, sophisticated songstress in NIKKI DU-CANE, offering an act perhaps better suited for the cabaret floor — three times did the lass lay an egg with this theatre audience for comments a la cabaret! Nevertheless, Nikki came across as a very accomplished performer, a good mover who scored in such as "What I did for love, ''Leroy Brown,'' and closing
"Birth of the Blues" — the song which first started her (I quote) ". . . on the road to madness."
As the penultimate act. on bounced LEWIS & PAYNE with one of variety's good old back-in-the-old-routine type of acts comprised of songs, comedy, cross-talk and impressions. Very slick and very professional, the boys were nevertheless, alas, tied down somewhat by the production timing to the bare bones of their usual performance, and while the laughs and applause were there the lads no doubt knew the key something was missing . . the time to work the audience totally their way into being their own. The final artist introduced was singer/songwriter COLIN ANTHONY and who, had it not been for the previous hit, would undoubtedly have made the night his own. Moody and commanding, Colin strode the stage in song and displayed an almost majestic disdain for pandering to his audience as he worked through a superior selection which, to sum it all up song-wise, was "A Beautiful Noise."
His was the performance that declared "This is me, this is what I do, and how does it grab you?' And how they loved him!
Throughout the show its resident star Charlie Smithers had ambled around like an amiable bear, using his uncanny ability to open the doors in people's minds to their private sense of humour, leaving them to gurgle away merrily to themselves. For this reviewer, it was the fact that during Charlie's "drunk" story and routine, the drunk suddenly developed a wooden leg . and oh, in what was essentially a variety show, how I also secretly regretted the production timing and schedule, for the star was thus forced to largely ignore both front and "ash-trays" — the material to be had in both areas would have kept Charlie {and us) there all night! So ended the 1977 Publand Show, successful and enjoyable despite its inability (due to GLC Regulations) to be more complete on a Sunday. As a reflection, it can be said that it was impossible for- any act to fail, for once again the show's supporters killed 'em with kindness; but then again, all criticism is invalidated by the knowledge that you just cannot argue with success! So — Cheers!


PUBLAND Part One 1966 - 1970

PUBLAND Part Two 1971 - 1977

PUBLAND Part Three 1978 - 1980


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