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VICTORIA Theatre Salford

Group dedicated to the acquisition and restoration of the Victoria Theatre, Great Clewes Street, Salford
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Sharing Fond Memories of Rep and Panto at The Victoria (October 1964 - January 1965)


We recently rallied to ask for your memories of the theatre, whether it be family or yourself working there, attending to see shows and films, walking past of living by it. Our plan is to create an Voice Wall to treasure the memories and share them with the wider Salford and Theatre communities. We thought we would share this one with you.

We will be calling those of you who haven't yet managed to submit recordings to record clips that you'd like to share but Roger Foss kindly sent us this recording of him recalling some memories of his time working at The Victoria Theatre in the repertory company and then in the pantomime, Mother Goose, starring Ken Platt and Roy Rolland.

This was October 1964-end of January 1965. He reflects on the period with fondness, including the odd anecdote about backstage, very warm welcomes from the staff, the hands-on producers (including West End director Duncan Weldon who acted as the theatre's photographer) and the grandeur and sheer scale of the auditorium, as well as a post-show party in one of the dressing rooms, whilst staying locally in Pendleton with a family and his two-bus trips to the theatre.

He has proudly kept the original pantomime contract, programmes and other memorabilia and recalls Councellor Goldberg giving the wages, of 8 pounds, personally. Aubury Philips called him in and asked him to join the cast of the 'All-laughter' pantomime, as King of Gooseland, joining variety comedians Roy Rolland (who always made the outside of the theatre look presentable) and Ken Platt - with his various catchphrases - for 12 pounds a week for 2 shows a day and 3 on a Saturday. He was even prompted to visit an agent in Manchester's Albert Square and consequently gained work with Granada Television.

"It was an important time for me to be at the Victoria, in my career, and I went on from there to start working in television, well whilst I was there actually. I had walk-on parts in Coronation Street and then an acting part in a series called The Villains, before eventually in a Children's TV series for 4 years in the 70s, beforing giving up the theatre and TV. But my first steps into television came because I was working at the theatre, not a long time but nevertheless an important time for me.

Now 75, is a former actor turned theatre critic, broadcaster and author. As an actor his experience ranged from rep to the West End, while television included the long-running Sexton Blake children's series, all before obtaining an MA in Modern Drama at Essex University. He has written on theatre and entertainment subjects for numerous publications, including The Stage, and was chief theatre critic for What's On In London magazine and Whatsonintheatre.com, and editor of What's On Stage magazine. His latest book is Till the Boys Come Home: How British Theatre Fought the Great War (History Press). Previous books: Harden's Theatregoers' Handbook and May The Farce Be With You (Oberon Books).

Roger concludes: "Now living in Manchester, being able to walk down to see the building it is sad that it is in its current state but so good that it is still there and it's good to know tha there is a campaign going to get this building back as part of the community again and give it a new life. All I can say is I very much hope that it succeeds."

You can follow Roger on Twitter at @fossroger and his book is available at: www.thehistorypress.co.uk/publication/till-the-boys-come-home/9780750960663/