“On 8 May 1956, John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger opened at the Royal Court on Sloane Square. It was the third production of the new English Stage Company, under Artistic Director George Devine, and is now considered the play that marks the beginning of modern British drama. George Devine aimed to discover ‘hard-hitting, uncompromising writers’, and create a company that would challenge and stimulate British theatre.”
I go along with this. There’s a mischievous, ill-informed view that Joan Littlewood booted British Theatre into modernity. Nonsense; I worked with her (you can read about it in my book). I also worked with George and, for all his eccentricities, he was a giant change-maker on the British drama scene. We owe him a lot.
This programme is of a Look Back… revival. I wasn’t entirely sure that the writing was as revolutionary as the commentators made out. What caught the attention of the critics was that there was a scene in which a woman ACTUALLY DID SOME IRONING on the West End stage. If you can imagine that this was startling at the time, you will get some inkling of what standard West End writing was like.
This is a site for nosy people, for explorers. We will continue to make the site richer and richer, with new TV and film clips, behind-the-scenes insights into stage shows, and never-before-seen recorded and filmed comedy and drama. Keep coming back for the new stuff. We hope you’ll find it both entertaining and interesting.
About my new book
I’ve spent 70 years as an actor, writer and director, and Are You Going to do That Little Jump? The Adventure Continues is stuffed full of backstage stories: about the sitcoms I was in – Keep It in the Family, Porridge, Rising Damp, Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?, Reggie Perrin, and dozens more; about my forays into live theatre – from irksomerep, to risky Fringe, to the spine-tingling RSC and treacherous, seductive Broadway. And it’s right up to date with recent movies – Lost in London and Peterloo.