facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11

12 March 1980: Make And Break for 1970s TV names

First Published 23 April 2008, Last Updated 23 April 2008

Two actors best known at the time for their television comedy performances opened in a new play at the Lyric Hammersmith on 12 March 1980. Leonard Rossiter and Prunella Scales were directed by Michael Blakemore in Michael Frayn’s philosophical comedy Make And Break.

Playwright, novelist and former journalist Frayn had already had West End success with plays Clouds (1976) and Donkeys’ Years (1977), when Make And Break had its 1980 premiere. The play was a portrayal of a work-obsessed businessman, played by Rossiter, who lets his work rule his every waking moment, to the detriment of his family and personal life. Scales played his loyal secretary.  

Though both experienced stage actors, Rossiter and Scales were best known at the time for the iconic television programmes that had made them household names during the 1970s. Rossiter starred in ITV sitcom Rising Damp from 1974-78, alongside Frances de la Tour, Richard Beckinsale and Don Warrington, recreating his role as miserly landlord Rigsby from Eric Chappell’s original 1971 stage play entitled The Banana Box. Then between 1976 and 1979 Rossiter played the eponymous lead in David Nobbs’s comedy The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin.

For Scales, it was only five years after she had starred as John Cleese’s wife Sybil Fawlty in the hugely loved sitcom Fawlty Towers. Though her subsequent career has included numerous roles on television and stage, it is this role in the 12-episode programme that she is still best remembered for.

Make Or Break transferred to the Haymarket and went on to win the 1980 Evening Standard Award for Best Comedy of the Year. At the Laurence Olivier Awards that year, Scales was nominated in the category of Actress of the Year in a Supporting Role, and the play received a nomination for Comedy of the Year, losing out to Educating Rita.
 
Two years later Frayn won his second Laurence Olivier Award (the first was for Donkeys’ Years in 1976) for Noises Off, which also received a Tony Award in 1984. He went on to enjoy success with Benefactors (1984), Copenhagen (1998) and Democracy (2003). Donkeys’ Years was revived at the Comedy in 2006, receiving a Best Revival nomination at the 2007 Laurence Olivier Awards.

Scales went on to achieve more success in the West End with An Evening With Queen Victoria, Quatermaine’s Terms and Happy Days. Her most recent stage roles include A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg, A Woman Of No Importance and Gertrude’s Secret. Rossiter died of a heart attack on 5 October 1984 during a performance of Joe Orton’s Loot at the Lyric theatre, in which he was playing Inspector Truscott alongside David John and Neil Pearson. He was 57. Earlier that year he had received a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Comedy Performance of the Year.

CB

Share

Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.