Adventures in Time and Theatre

Friday 22nd November 2013

1963: a year like no other

In the US, the March on Washington and the assassination of President John F Kennedy, 50 years ago today. In Britain, the Great Train Robbery, the Profumo Affair and the birth of Beatlemania. Not to mention the launch of the National Theatre, the foundation of Edinburgh’s Traverse – and a brand new home for Nottingham Playhouse.

Our glittering new building on Wellington Circus opened on 11 December, the night before the Beatles played the Nottingham Odeon. We’ll be celebrating a half-century of the “new” Playhouse on 11 December this year with our special pantomime gala

Tomorrow, meanwhile, comes the 50th Anniversary of a cornerstone of British television: Doctor Who. There can’t be a theatre in the land without its Whovian connections. Here are some of ours.

- Currently starring in Downton Abbey, Penelope Wilton recalled in an interview this week that it was at Nottingham Playhouse that she got her first break in acting. In Doctor Who, she played politician Harriet Jones, who encountered both Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant’s Doctors.

- The voice of K9, John Leeson, was approached to play the part by TV director Derek Goodwin, after Goodwin directed him on stage at Nottingham Playhouse.

- West Bridgford girl Anjli Mohindra, who played Cecily Cardew in last year’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest, was one of the leads in Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures.

- Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy appeared numerous times at Nottingham Playhouse, often alongside Ken Campbell, when Richard Eyre was Artistic Director and returned to play Buster Keaton in Buster’s Last Stand! during Kenneth Alan Taylor’s time at the helm.

- Frequent Playhouse actor Jim Findley fell victim to the Doctor’s most enduring foes in Resurrection of the Daleks, an adventure of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison, and was interviewed in CAST about his role for the DVD release.

- Louise Jameson, who played the Fourth Doctor Tom Baker’s companion Leela in the TV show, appeared more recently at Nottingham Playhouse as Jocasta in Steven Berkoff’s acclaimed production of Oedipus. Berkoff too has acted both at the Playhouse and in Doctor Who.

- Torchwood’s Burn Gorman and Lucy Cohu were both cast in plays at Nottingham Playhouse by Artistic Director Giles Croft before achieving TV fame.

- Paul McGann, whose Eighth Doctor made a surprise reappearance on screen this week, took the title role in a 1981 production of Byron’s play Cain, staged by Nottingham Playhouse at Newstead Abbey.