Brucie comments ‘not far off mark’

Bruce Forsyth has been criticised for an allegedly derogatory remark about the Royal Hippodrome made during a television programme.

Mr Forsyth was taken to task for saying of time spent at the venue in the summer of 1958: ‘I was working in this terrible theatre at Eastbourne.’

Evidence in Mark Jones and John Pick’s absorbing history of the Royal Hippodrome suggests that in the late 1950s Brucie was not far off the mark.

Jones and Pick describe the reactions of Cyril Fletcher and Betty Astell when they arrived at the Royal Hippodrome in 1961 to present the first of three successive seasons of their summer show, Masquerade.

The authors of ‘Mr Phipps’ Theatre’ quote directly from Cyril Fletcher’s autobiography published in 1978 in which he records his impressions.

“It was backstage we were interested in. We inadvertently walked in through the front of the house.

“It was an unbelievable dump; and a very inartistic dump at that, in a very bad state of repair.”

It gets progressively worse, including as it does reports of heated exchanges with entertainments director of the time, George Hill.

In light of Fletcher’s disdain, Bruce Forsyth’s observation of the Royal Hippodrome over half a century ago seems relatively mild.

Edward Thomas

Collington Close