French and Saunders

French and Saunders Live 1990

My role:
Technical Manager for the Shaftesbury Theatre

I can’t remember now whether it was once or twice I worked with them at Hampstead – certainly once was as a filler when the theatre would otherwise have been dark, shortly after their first successes on the Edinburgh Fringe. This is memories of working with them when they did a season at the Shaftesbury Theatre, which was filmed and released on video (VHS, of course).

Unusually for me in those days, I was mainly on the venue management side of things, negotiating release payments for the backstage crew and other staff such as Stage Doorkeeper to receive additional payments for video recording, and keeping careful checks on overall safety. Venue technical and operational management were to be the main features of my future job at the Rothes Halls in Fife, so it was good practice to do it under the stringent regulations governing the West End.

The show featured a large bucket of mini-sized confectionary – “Celebrations”, I think they were – which were thrown into the audience during the show. Not a few of these found their way into the pockets and mouths of the backstage crew, of course. Slightly less welcome were the glitter confetti canons towards the end of the show – it took three months for the last of this to work its way out of the main House Tabs and iron (respectively, the big velour curtain that closes the front of the stage, and the “safety curtain”).

Anyway, here’s the opening of the video, with the outside of the Shaftesbury, and the first few seconds of the show. From an original VHS, so quality isn’t what it might be! A full-size clip is available in a new tab here.