Eartha Kitt

  • Actor

Press clippings

BBC producers are a wily bunch. When Eartha Kitt was at the height of her international career it would have been impossible to persuade her to show up at an old music hall theatre in Leeds for a one-song appearance. But Barney Colehan, producer of BBC TV's The Good Old Days for all of its 30-year history, pulled off this coup by telling her that he had arranged for her to use the dressing room that Charlie Chaplin had occupied at the start of his career.

The fact that there was no way of knowing which of the many dressing rooms Chaplin might have used has programme host Paul Merton howling with laughter, one of many occasions when he cracks up over the course of his look at the history of the City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds. It's Britain's oldest music hall and has just reopened after a major refurbishment.

Merton is joined in this celebration of variety shows by Barry Cryer, Roy Hudd and Ken Dodd. The latter was the headline act at the gala reopening of the Varieties on 18 September 2011. Mr Cryer, on the other hand, recalls his first appearance at the venue in the 1950s, when music hall was out of favour and he shared the stage with ladies performing acts entitled "Fun and Dames" and "See the Nipples and Die!" There's no such roll call these days and, with the success of Britain's Got Talent, Merton hopes for a resurgence of variety shows.

Jane Anderson, Radio Times, 1st October 2011

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