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LTG Top Ten 2012/2013

Tom Williams, editor of recently published LTG Yearbook, has (at the touch of a magic button) produced the news you all look forward to receiving – the “Top of the Pops” list for the season ending Summer 2013. There are a few surprises I suspect!


Calendar Girls – 48 productions
Entertaining Angels – 12
Blithe Spirit – 8
The 39 Steps – 6
Blood Brother – 6
Death Trap – 5
Fawlty Towers – 5
Humble Boy – 5
The History Boys – 5
Murdered to Death – 5

Calendar Girls always looked like being an outright winner, but the scale of its success within 12 months is surely unprecedented. The BT Biennial plays came nowhere near this achievement. (Of course, Tim Firth is by no means a single play dramatist, as the next table shows.) This clearly marks the advent of a new method of marketing, and perhaps we shall see the agents trying to repeat the experiment within the amateur market. The success of Entertaining Angels is also remarkable, considering that it never had a West End run, but only regional presentations professionally. The resilience of that old war horse Death Trap is also notable.


Tim Firth – 54 productions
William Shakespeare – 34
Alan Ayckbourn – 28
Alan Bennett – 16
Noel Coward – 15
Neil Simon – 14
Richard Everet – 12
John Godber* – 10
Willy Russell – 9
Tennessee Williams – 9
Terence Rattigan – 9

In addition there were 5 productions of plays by John Godber & Jane Thornton.

Other statistics thrown up:

  • The top women playwrights were Charlotte Jones (6), Liz Lochhead (5), Shelagh Stephenson (5) and Laura Wade (4)
  • The top Pantomime was Aladdin
  • The top Shakespeares were The Merry Wives, Much Ado About Nothing, and Romeo and Juliet, with 4 each

The Yearbook records a total of 943 productions by UK Guild members, of 661 different plays, by 474 different authors.

Incomplete returns from some members however make it possible only to say that seats in excess of 629,401 were sold over the period of 12 months.

Meanwhile, Samuel French – London has listed its ten most licensed plays over the last year. They were:

Calendar Girls, Tim Firth
Blithe Spirit, Noel Coward
‘Allo ‘Allo, Jeremy Lloyd & David Croft
Blood Brothers (play), Willy Russell
Teechers, John Godber
When We Are Married, J B Priestley
Last Tango in Little Grimley, David Tristram
Peter Pan, J M Barrie
Confusions Alan Ayckbourn
The 39 Steps, Patrick Barlow/John Buchan
(Did you notice that 40% of the playwrights come from Lancashire & Yorkshire!)

At Dolman Theatre, Newport, Hugh Moelwyn Hughes has been doing his own analysis of the Year Book returns, looking for the top ten best selling plays in LTG theatres with large seating capacities to fill. His top ten holds few surprises:

Fawlty Towers (Southport) – 3,280 seats sold
Calendar Girls (Rugby) – 2,422 seats sold
This Happy Breed (Leicester) – 2,413 seats
Calendar Girls (Bolton) – 2,245 seats
Calendar Girls (Lancaster) – 2,210 seats
Calendar Girls (Miller Centre) – 1,980 seats
Calendar Girls (Loft) – 1,942 seats
Calendar Girls (Halifax) – 1,795 seats
Cards on the Table (Torquay) – 1,775 seats
Calendar Girls (Louth) – 1,672 seats

(Only Bolton and Miller Centre have seating capacities under 200)

The audience’s favourite plays

According to a poll carried out recently by English Touring Theatre to mark their 21st anniversary, the 10 most favourite plays of British audiences are:

The History Boys
Noises Off
The Importance of Being Earnest
An Inspector Calls
Twelfth Night
King Lear

“It might be said that audiences are saying ‘there’s lots of things we like – we like new stuff, we like old stuff, we want to be challenged, we want to laugh, we want to be made to feel intelligent’.” Sounds a bit like the policy of many LTG theatres in a nutshell!

Some more statistics

The National Campaign for the Arts (Director Samuel West) came up with some worrying statistics in December in its 2013 Index. This indicated that in the last three years:

  • Treasury funding is down 21%
  • Local Government funding is down 16%;
  • Business contributions to the arts are down 11% (and down 30% over the past 5 years).

On the plus side:

  • Money from the Lottery has risen by 17% (discounting the Olympics);
  • Cash from trusts and foundations is up by 18%;
  • Audiences are up by 2%;
  • The number of adults participating in the arts was up by 7%.