IT’S a tale of two theatres in the city of Dickens’ birth when The Kings Theatre and New Theatre Royal star in a documentary to be broadcast on Monday.
The venues take centre stage as part of the BBC’s On Stage season. Film crews spent months going behind the scenes and talking to staff to find out how the theatres are faring in these difficult economic times.
Famous names including Sheila Hancock, who began her acting career in Portsmouth in the 1950s, are interviewed, as are the current chief executives who discuss how the two theatres are fighting for survival.
The programme is narrated by Miriam Margolyes.
Sheila Hancock said: ‘I played the New Theatre Royal many, many years ago. I think it was the 50s. It was a little shabby theatre but it was always a little gem, because it’s a Matcham theatre.
‘It’s one of the most beautiful theatres. I seriously believe this – I’ve played pretty much every theatre in England, Scotland and Wales and I think it’s one of the most beautiful theatres in the country.’
I’ve played pretty much every theatre in England, Scotland and Wales and I think the New Theatre Royal is one of the most beautiful theatres in the countrySheila Hancock, actress
A different version of On Stage has been made for each of the BBC regions.
Jason Horton, head of BBC South, added: ‘The films take an in-depth look at the venues which play such a vital role in our communities and which rarely have the chance to step into the spotlight themselves.
‘We wanted to follow the ups and downs of theatre life, hear their concerns for the future and ask questions of the people in power.’
David Cooper, The Kings chief executive said: ‘We were delighted to be asked to be a part of the documentary.
‘The Kings Trust is particularly proud of the achievements of all the team and volunteers who have brought the theatre to where we are today.
‘Producer/director Kate O’Driscoll’s unobtrusive “fly on the wall” approach to the daily workings of the Kings shows that regional theatre is alive and well and full of hope for the future.’
The documentary goes out at 7.30pm on Monday on BBC1.