BBC celebrates Theatreland centenary

Published July 7, 2008

BBC News is marking 100 years since the creation of London’s West End theatre industry with a series of television and radio reports broadcast throughout Tuesday 8 July.

Representatives from shows including High School Musical, Wicked, Hairspray and Fat Pig, along with industry figures such as producer David Pugh and new Society Of London Theatre (SOLT) President Nica Burns, will take part in features and interviews across the BBC News network.

Though London has been a cultural centre for centuries, it was in 1908 that leading theatre owners and producers formed SOLT, a representative body bringing together the separate theatres into one recognised industry. Since then, London’s theatre district has grown in size and stature to become the theatre capital of the world.

The recently released Box Office Data Report shows that London’s Theatreland has never been more buoyant, with a record-breaking 13.5million theatregoers enjoying a wide range of plays, musicals, opera, dance and entertainment on offer last year.

Though it was originally seen as a threat to theatre when it was founded in 1922, the BBC has certainly played its part in building theatre’s popularity in recent years, catching the public’s imagination with reality casting shows How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do and I’d Do Anything.

The BBC’s Theatre Day is just one way in which the centenary is being celebrated. Events have been running since February, and Official London Theatre has created an exciting new Theatreland At 100 section of this website. Future events include a celebration of choreography as part of the Big Dance on 10 July, Kids Week In The West End from 15 to 29 August, a peak behind the scenes of the theatre buildings as part of Open Rehearsal (26-28 September), and an exhibition of images from acclaimed theatre photographer Reg Wilson that will be displayed at the Playhouse theatre from October.

More information about Celebrate The Centenary can be found in the Theatreland At 100 section.

MA