PUBLAND Part One 1966 - 1970

PUBLAND Part Three 1978 - 1980

PUBLAND Part Two 1971 - 1977

THE  PUBLAND VARIETY SHOW  No.11
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. London. WC2
Sunday 5th November 1978
Produced & Directed by Ray Donn
Musical Director Barry Goynes & The Bryan Williamson Band

Artistes that appeared on the 11th Publand Show
Host & Compere Charlie Smithers
Charlie has become synonymous with the Publand Show over the years, having appeared in virtually every production since the shows inception in 1966. Born and bred in London's East End, Charlie has developed a keen eye for the real life humour that is so prominent a part of London life. Charlie pioneered organised Pub entertainment during the mid-sixties and, in doing so, managed to establish himself as one of Britain's most respected comedians.


Cheryl St. Clair Dancers
Julie Collins, Elana Gilbert, Bobby Kingley,
Valerie Neethan, Jane Robbins, Karen Sirett & Rosita Yarboy upturn Michael Barrymore

Cheryl St. Clair Tonight's choreographer, who was Royal Ballet trained, started her career with Young Generation. She left in order to commence a solo career as a cabaret and recording artiste and was, in fact, the first cabaret vocalist to appear on the Q.E.2. Cheryl has numerous hit records in Germany under the name of'Alison Wonder' and after a spell back with the Second Generation as featured vocalist, Cheryl appeared in Showboat in the Strand where she met comedy entertainer Michael Barrymore to whom she is now married.

Tommy Kane reviews THE 1978 PUBLAND SHOW
THE 1978 Publand Variety Show, presented by Ray Donn at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, on November 5, was attended by many leading personalities from the world of entertainment and a capacity audience, which, in making its way to the theatre, brought West End traffic in the vicinity to a brief halt.
There was no need for the critics to look beyond the audience to appreciate why the show is now beginning to be talked about as the number two theatrical event behind the Royal Variety Show, with leading lights such as Louis Benjamin, Reg Swinson, Terry Cantor in attendance, Water Rat personalities out in force, Lady Ratlings engaged in selling the book-sized souvenir programme (with its feature by Lord Delfont), and the show's loyal supporters further augmented by press and TV representatives and West End Sunday nighters.
For producer and motivator Ray Donn, whose enthusiasm has carried the show forward from its first publand get-together in 1966 to its present status, the gathering must have been something to savour indeed.
But alas! for this battle-hardened Publand Show reviewer the brilliant display of entertainment fireworks anticipated on this Guy Fawkes night just did not happen, as for the first time in its history the show never truly set 'em all alight.
It was all rather strange even, for throughout the whole of the first half only one performer managed to get anywhere near crossing "the gap," and throughout the night none managed to assert their personality or to play to the crowd enough to be able to steal the show.
Six. lovely Cheryl St Clair Dancers (Julie Collins, Elana Gilbert, Bobbie Kingley, Valerie Neethan, Jane Rob-bins, Karen Sirett) opened the show and excelled in setting the scene for fifteen-year-old songstress Carla Donnelly.
HIDDEN
An attractive girl and one who kept her obvious nerves well hidden, Carla sang sweetly enough throughout her spot but, one felt, no more than adequately perhaps we expect too much from today's young.
Tempo and atmosphere lifted but briefly with the second singing act, Vernon & Maya. After a lively opening number they too lapsed into a performance pleasant to listen to but not strong enough to make the audience come alive.
It was not until the appearance of the third artist, comedian/ impressionist/singer Tony Barton, that the audience began to sit up and respond. Hilarious in parts, earthy in places, but good all round, this bouncy artist attacked from the off, causing laughter and applause.
The final" act of the first half, the delightful and talented Julie Royce, tended to slightly overdo the niceties and to perform the kind of production material so painfully out of step with live publand variety that it showed, and the atmosphere and response slumped accordingly. Julie deserved much better than she received and would doubtless have received such in a different setting like a musical or TV spot.
The second half opened with the dancers supporting a truly spectacular lead dancer in Rosita Yarboy before their second dance a rather apt "Send in the Clowns" heralded the return of half the audience unaware that the show had restarted!
It was at this point (and why he hadn't done so much earlier remains a mystery) that star comedy personality and compere Charlie Smithers at long last departed from his low profile to display the qualities which have made him so well-known.
And having introduced "The In-Crowd" (John Harley, Mick Balder-ton, Art Willis, Mick Griffiths) as a group musically and vocally very pleasant to listen to but no more, Charlie turned the night into a revivalists' spiritual meeting, saving souls here, preaching the good word there, and leading the entire audience in "John Brown's Body" and "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah."
It was all good stuff and Earlene Bentley, the London-based sweet soul singer from Harlem, then took up the theme with some truly fine singing in "Where Peaceful Waters Flow" and. "Midnight Train To Georgia.". Her warm personality and stage presence greatly enhanced the show.
Comedy personality Michael Barrymore struck an unusual stance by standing on his head and then performing some energetic leg expressions to match his "Down Under" interview. A talented artist, Michael also used a mournful-looking pianist and a female member from the audience for his laughable sketch of "The Dying Swan," and came across overall as a refreshing and unusual comedy performer who could well become a household name in the future.
CAPTIVATED
The final artist, singer/pianist Mark Adam, also kept the applause going as he captivated with favourites such as "Unchained Melody" and "You Light Up My Life," and in his performance gave the reason why he had previously earned the vote as a "Pub Entertainer Of The Year."
At the close, with the entire cast lined up for their finale bow, on came Ray Donn to pay tribute to perhaps the greatest stage success of the night in the Bryan Williamson Orchestra they were faultless throughout, in this their fourth appearance in the show.
To sum up the 1978 Publand Variety Show the event proved a far bigger success than the show. Certainly, if the show suggested that the Theatre Royal does not generate the same magical live variety atmosphere as the Victoria Palace, then the event also indicated that Ray Donn has now reached the point where he will need to think about the show's format and selections very carefully indeed, if the Publand Variety Show with its inherent qualities is to continue its progress. And there is no doubt in my mind that it will!

*****

THE  PUBLAND VARIETY SHOW  No.12
(No Show 1979)
The London Palladium, Argyle St. W1
Sunday 9th November 1980
Produced & Directed by Ray Donn
Musical Director Barry Goynes & The Bryan Williamson Band

                                                                            THE FINAL CURTAIN
As this year's show draws to a close, so the curtain will fall for the last time on "The Publand Show" and what has been publand's very own theatrical Command Show for several years will fade away into showbiz history. It's rather a sad thought, and while the show's Producer/Director Ray Donn may have good reason to call "Time, Gentlemen Please!", many enthusiasts and supporters will still mourn its passing. No doubt the critics with ice in their veins will sympathise by observing that the show had outlived its usefulness; and future historians may, when scrutinising the written word, ponder over its true contribution and worth to the world of entertainment during New Elizabethan Times.
To each his own, of course, and it has to be admitted that the critics could well be right. But my own observation for posterity is that the Publand Show story beginning as it did in the early 'sixties when Ray Donn featured as Mine Host at a small variety pub in North London called "The Pegasus" is a remarkable story about a show business success which sprang primarily from the producer's own enthusiasm, drive and his determination to bring publand's talented unknowns to the notice of the outside world. (And this final programme provides an opportune moment to mention the assistance given to this great cause by two distinguished journalists and judges of talent in Peter Hepple and Sidney Vauncez who, as editors of the newspaper of the Showbiz world "The Stage", have seen fit each year to publish the Publand Show feats within its pages.)
And for this scribe in particular there has been a fifteen years period of enjoyment and satisfaction, in having been able to record the grass roots entertainment history as it was being writ by the people. There is, too, a warm comfort in the knowledge and remembrance that during the first half of its life The Publand Show unlocked many doors for unknown artists, and that in so doing it brought the showbiz establishment face to face with a vital and artistic variety reality; while in its later years many of the artists featured to say nothing of its pioneer producer Ray Donn have earned the respect of the showbiz establishment, to become a valued part of it. Among such artists that spring to mind are Charlie Smithers, Lennie Peters, Roger de Courcey, Carol Lee Scott and Terri Rogers. This is to name a mere few from the many, and a full appreciation of the artists and musicians who have appeared in the show is given elsewhere in the programme. Alas, because life itself is a passing parade, some of those fine entertainers are no longer with us and are remembered with a special fondness.
This year, then, we take our seats to witness the last calls, the end of an exciting era and a-moment in history. But while The Publand Show itself will bow out of the spotlight and fade away into the shadows of Good Times Past, the spirit of friendship it engendered among so many people in the early 'sixties lives on into the 'eighties, as if to underline that in a world full of change, nothing changes.
And so it is, that when Ray Donn steps on to the stage for the final curtain; to tender his appreciations; to fluff his lines again(!); and to utter that familiar call of "Time, Gentlemen Please!", this enthusiast and supporter will mentally raise a glass in a Toast, to wish Ray, his entire company and each and every one present for the occasion
"Ladies & Gentlemen, Your Very Good Health!"
Tommy Kane.
 
                                                                                          PUBLAND SHOW FINALE
                                                                               By Tommy Kane

And so to the London Palladium on November 9th 1980, to witness the final production of "The Publand Variety
Show", an outstanding variety command event borne of the swinging 'sixties. It had to happen, of course, for the times they keep a'changing and none can stop the tick of the clock. But in my being one of those big softies who lent a hand to ensure a successful birth of the show at The Scala Theatre, 'way
back in 1966 and what a mammoth birth it was too, with sixteen artists being presented during some four and a half hours! I could not help but feel a twinge of sadness in being present at its passing. However, if the show had to expire then where better to bow out than at the greatest variety theatre in the world?
And who better to be present than two of its greatest sons, Charlie Smithers and Lennie Peters?
... The show commenced with the appearance of top TV and Record personality David Hamilton, who recalled in his narration publand's role as the birth-place of the music hall artistes; and to help develop both the atmosphere and personalities of those times there was a mock pub frontage within which per-formers Len Howe, Audrey Maye, Bet and Les Webber gave vent to some glorious renderings such as "Isn't it a pity that the likes of 'er should be married to the likes of 'im", "Only a beautiful picture in a beautiful golden frame, "Burlington Bertie", and "My old man said follow the van, and don't dilly dally on the way".
Then whoosh! and on came five eighteen year old lasses dressed to kill in shiny, -colourful trouser costumes, to make with the music and song in "Don't take away the music", "Knights in white satin", and a truly rousing rock 'n roll medley. Known collectively as "Sphinx" the girls (Jane, Tee, Janet, Deb, Tonia) of the vocal/musical group injected modern-day pace, glamour, sight and sound, which made everyone sit up, take notice and applaud.
The thoroughly modern misses were followed by a personality who has become one of the most exciting "finds" of the year, Bobby Davro. A good-looking young impressionist, Bobby displayed all the confidence in the world during his spot which involved a staggering amount of first-rate impressions and among these his Jim Davidson, Johnny Mathis, and Dame Edna, have to be seen and heard to be believed and laughed at.
Man about song Dave Gold then took over the big stage with his big voice, to sing a cheerful opening "I'll go where the music takes me". It took him, in fact, to "Me and Mrs Jones", and it was during this number that one suddenly became aware of the superb accompaniment being given by the Bryan
Williamson Orchestra under the direction of Barry Goynes. Here is as good a point as any to say that the boys of the band remained in top-sounding form
throughout the show, a splendid sound. But back to singer Dave, who, having told his audience that he had just signed a twelve months contract with Granada TV then had the cheek to wait for the polite applause before remarking that he'd been told he could keep the set if he paid the full twelve months instalments the rascal! Always a very popular artist, Dave signed off his happy spot with a rousing "Copa-cabana".
Closing the first-half were "Nuts and Bolts", a quartet of zany but quiet brilliant musicians who have, over the years, been laughed at and loved by audiences of all ages throughout the world. Any antique dealer worth his salt would have given his right arm for the array of old junk and paraphenalia the boys of the band obtained music from, and as a true knock about variety act they nutted and bolted the audience to their seats, despite the latters knowledge that the rush to the bar was only seconds away.
The second half continued with the same kind of zany entertainment, this time from comedy magician Clive Webb, assisted by the fearsome Brenda. A staring, wild-eyed performer, Clive demonstrated the knack of making his audience think of calling for the men in white coats before clobbering them with laughter, and certainly by the time he had finished his act this night the audience was feeling somewhat shattered perhaps he should bill himself as the close encounter of the third kind! And then it was the turn of all the men in the audience to stare with wide, glazed eyes ... for on came "Valentine", three
glamorous gals in Marsha, Sue & Cathy to perform with a splendid freshness and professionalism far beyond their time together as an act. I was reminded at times in their singing of the famed Andrews Sisters, but those girls of yester-year would not have matched the well-choreographed routines displayed by Valentine during what was a sparkling performance. "Give 'em the old razzle dazzle 'em" sang the girls with big twinkles in their eyes and they did
indeed! Gorgeous stuff, well applauded.
From three girls to one fella . . . and perhaps David Hamilton could have made more of the intro for comedy/musical/cartoonist entertainer Tony Crosse, for it was almost a non-intro event. Unfortunately Tony's opening routine was such that he had to struggle to raise the atmosphere, and despite this easy style, quiet humour, and talent, he never quiet managed to grab them until his now classic cartoon sketch of "Send in the Clowns". A fine artist not really seen at his best, me thought. There came a far better intro from David for Charlie Smithers, the former king of the bars who went on to earn just as great a reputation in showbiz circles of the highest level. In good form on the night was Charlie, telling his tales in his own inimitable way.
So finally to Lennie and Di Peters & Lee introduced by Charlie and which made the finale show complete' for Chas, Lennie, and Producer Director Ray Donn were old pals who first united together as publand unknowns, with both Lennie and Di dressed in light blue the artists sailed easily through their hits such as "Welcome Home", "Don't Stay Away Too Long", "Smile", "Hey Mr Music Man", "When I Need You", plus a new number bound to be a hit with all their fans called "Ocean and Blue Skies". A word of praise here, too, for their pianist/MD Mike Alexander, not only efficient but a person who can truly tinkle the ivories. As a final extra, Len Howe emerged from the pub frontage as a well-supped customer intent on proceeding homewards, to display an absolutely hilarious drunk routine which had 'em rolling in the aisles. It was life itself magnified to the full, and as a sketch it was a classic.
Pictures Above Left: Compere Charlie Smithers, Spinx, Bobby Davro, Nuts & Bolts                          Right: Clive Webb, Valentine, Peters & Lee

Charlie Smithers

David Hamilton

Len Howe

Audrey Maye

Les & Betty Webber

Sphinx

Bobby Davro

Dave Gold

Nuts & Bolts

Valentine

Tony Crosse

Peters & Lee

Clive Webb & Brenda

THE BRYAN WILLIAMSON ORCHESTRA
Trumpets. John Eldred , Cecil Moss, Ron Montgomery. Trombone. Ken Gray. Saxes. Colin Hickman, Alan Austin, Mick Boynton, Gerry Broadley.
Keyboard. Peter Lavender. Guitar Bass. Mick Walter. Rhythm Guitar. Dave White. Drums Bryan Williamson.
Musical Director Barry Goynes

And then, the last hurrahs, with the entire cast on stage to be cheered and to cheer in turn the intro for Ray Donn. Perhaps Ray had a lump in his throat; certainly he denied himself his usual speech, instead to utter brief and sincere words of appreciation and thanks to everyone.
And as the curtain fell, the Publand Show passed on into history . . . the end of one era, and for Ray, no doubt, the start of another.


 Publand Variety Show - The Final Curtain 1966-1980

Epilogue by Ray Donn
My intention with the show had always been to present a selection of talented and mostly unknown artists from the publand stages, and since 1966 1 was deeply gratified by the continuing interest and support both by the general public and show business press. It has to be acknowledged however, that in the late 70s some marked changes had taken place inside show business and in publand, so that then the talented artists were longer to be found on the pub platforms, but on TV programmes and in theatres, and in the clubs. Because of the changing scene, I feet it would be misleading for me to continue to present artists to the general public under the title of The Publand Show, and it was with a sense of sadness therefore that I felt bound to announce the 1980 show as being the final performance of The Publand Show.
Since the first show in 1966 1 have met and made many friends with many people on both sides of the footlights, and I owe so much to these friends for their encouragement and support. The show over the years has donated over 14000 to charity namely The Independant Adoption Society & Entertainment Artistes Benevolent Fund.
I sincerely thank all the Publand Show Artistes, Musicians, MDs & Arrangers, Chorus, Members of the Press & Photographers, many of them unfortunately no longer with us, therefore with that in mind I dedicate this website to dear friends departed.
I would like to take this final opportunity to thank dear friend Tommy Kane (aka Thomas Steadman) for his support encouragement, and always unbiased words and show reviews over the years.
I have experienced many pleasures since the first show, but without doubt my greatest pleasure has been in the fact that over the years an audience containing so very many familiar faces has remained loyal to the show and to the performers.
For this reason, I have reserved until last my Very Special Thanks to all Publand Show patrons for their support given over the years.
Here's to the next time .... Cheers!

                                                                                                 

I dedicate this website to dear "Publand Show" friends departed.
August 2009

 

 

PUBLAND Part One 1966 - 1970

PUBLAND Part Three 1978 - 1980

PUBLAND Part Two 1971 - 1977

Contact: ray@donn.co.uk

 

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