Billy Bunter Meets Magic
Cast & Crew
|Bob Cherry||Peter Sanders|
|Captain Hartley-Wright||David Nixon|
|Dick Pawlyn||Henry Moxon|
|Frank Nugent||Robert Dodson|
|Harry Wharton||Robin Stewart|
|Hurree Singh (Inky)||Christopher Arghyrou|
|Johnny Bull||David Griffin|
|Major-General Bostock||Michael Anthony|
|Mr Quelch||Clement McCallin|
|William George Bunter||Peter Bridgemont|
|Settings by||John Barry|
|Stage Manager||Tommy Hayes|
|Presented by arrangement with||Arthur Lewis|
|Presented by arrangement with||Fleetway Publications Ltd|
|Press Representative||John Bretton|
- Bunter flyer for bunter meets magic by stage productions, Granted permission to upload to Theatricalia
- Bunter meets magic newspaper clipping by newspaper source, Public domain under CC-Zero licence
Six Christmas shows featuring Bunter were put on at various London theatres between 1958 and 1963. They were written by Maurice McLaughlin and performed in various London theatres (including the Place theatre, Victoria Palace, Queens theatre and Shaftesbury theatre).
Naveed has been in touch with Angela Buckley, daughter of the late Maurice McLoughlin and she has kindly given permission for the plays to be reproduced here. Angela has also provided a biography of her Father and has kindly scanned some letters sent to her Father from Frank Richards. You can find them here.
I have been rather fortunate in the ‘hobby’ for encountering personnel links to (Charles Hamilton or his works) over the years, and none more than when the seller of a Maurice McLoughlin Bunter play edition (the first published Bunter play “BB’s Mystery Christmas”) turned out to be the daughter of the late play-writer himself! I already had several copies of this play, but this particular edition turned out to be more ‘special’ coming from where it did…..
A happy correspondence followed, in which Angela also forwarded me further plays by her father, some even signed by him. I must say some of his other non-Bunter plays are very good. I recommend folks to read them. They cover both the more serious drama and comedy genre..
Some items very much in the latter category she kindly forwarded to myself were the scripts of the second and third West-end Bunter plays, Billy Bunter Flies East & Billy Bunter’s Swiss Roll. Even more kindly she gave permission for these Bunter plays of 1959 and 1960 to be made available to Friardale for general public reading. This is all the more note-worthy, as these plays have not been read by the general public since their debut. So here they are–-judge for yourself how the audience must have been pleased and tickled to have once seen these two plays in the West End of London.
Frank was pleased with the idea of the Bunter shows, though in the event he was unable to travel to London to see any of the productions. In a post-war letter to a fan he was thinking of a trip to London to see the Bunter play. (Letter to Mr Cawley, December 3rd 1958): “It has pleased God to grant me quite amazing health for my time of life and I feel going on, like the little brook, for ever. In fact I am pondering on a trip to London to see the Bunter panto at the palace, if the weather isn’t too awfully bad”.
In a letter to Frank Richards dated early 1959, Charles Skilton (the publisher of the Bunter books) mentioned “BB’s Mystery Christmas”:
“I did indeed see the Bunter play with my wife and daughter and we were all extremely pleased with it. The casting was excellent and the whole thing went over quite successfully. There was a large and enthusiastic audience, and I hope that this does become an annual feature.”
I Indeed the first play did prove popular enough to merit successive annual showings
The aformentioned article continues:
Indeed the first play did prove popular enough to merit successive annual showings so that Bunter plays followed during Christmas holidays for a number of years.
Eric Fayne, the past editor of Collectors Digest, in a letter to myself (dated 8th October 1990) reminisced:
“As you will well understand, I greatly enjoyed playing for the Bunter shows over consecutive Christmas seasons. I recall being at the Palace theatre, the Victoria Palace, the Queen’s Theatre, and the Shaftesbury Theatre. Actually Maurice McLoughlin was the writer, not the producer, of the Bunter shows. He was a delightful man, and a great friend of mine over many years. He visited me several times at Surbiton, and I visited him at his home just outside London. He died some years ago now.
All the shows with the exception of ”Billy Bunter Meets Magic“, were on for 3 weeks over the Christmas season. With the ”magic“ show, however, that one was on for a month. This was because David Nixon, who starred in the show, only agreed to take part if the season was on for 4 weeks. Actually 4 weeks is a rather long time for a Christmas show, as by the 4th week all the youngsters are back at their schools. However I think he had pretty substantial audiences even in the last week.
David Nixon was a very famous stage magician, also very popular on TV………
The producers of the Bunter shows were Michael Anthony and his wife, Bernadette Milnes. They were charming people, great friends of mine in those days as well.” (end of quote)
THIS ARTICLE AND COMMENT CAN BE FOUND ON THE FRIARDALE SITE WWW.FRIARDALE.CO.UK, IF YOU GO TO THE TELEVISION AND RADIO SECTION, AND SCROLL DOWN THE PAGE
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