Britain Had Talent: A History of Variety Theatre

Britain Had Talent: A History of Variety Theatre

by Oliver Double


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In the first major academic work to examine British variety theatre, Double provides a detailed history of this art form and analyses its performance dynamics and techniques. Encompassing singers, comedians, dancers, magicians, ventriloquists and diverse speciality acts, this vibrant book draws on a series of new interviews with variety veterans.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780230284609
Publisher: Macmillan Education UK
Publication date: 10/30/2012
Edition description: 2012
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

OLIVER DOUBLE is a senior lecturer in Drama at the University of Kent, UK. Once a stand-up comedian himself, his teaching in this area is highly acclaimed and has received national media attention. He is the author of Getting the Joke: The Inner Workings of Stand-Up Comedy (Methuen, 2005) and Stand Up! On Being a Comedian (Methuen, 1997).

Find out more about the author here: and view a celebration of variety theatre on youtube:

Table of Contents

Preface.- Introduction.- PART I: HISTORY OF VARIETY PERFORMANCE.- Britain's Got Talent.- The Variety Bill.- Music Hall becomes Variety.- The Golden Age of Variety.- Variety Falls Apart.- PART II: PERFORMANCE DYNAMICS.- Personality.- Participation.- Skill.- Novelty.- PART III: VARIETY PERFORMANCE TODAY.- Variety Now.- Bibliography.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Throughout this excellent book Double looks at variety from the detached perspective of the historian, and also with the excited eyes of the enthusiast...Britain Had Talent is admirably unpretentious throughout, and is a valuable addition to the too little we know about this extraordinary form of popular culture.' - Studies in Theatre and Performance

'This is a lucid and well-researched book that is brimming with charming anecdotes (such as des O'Connor's faux faint), curious detail (such as the barring clauses), and engaging passages of analysis (such as the choreography of glances between Morecambe and Wise)...It is bursting with the seams with fascinating research, and this wealth of variety content is executed with assured delivery.' - New Theatre Quarterly

'An interesting, well written and colourful history of the variety form, which will appeal to students, researchers and general readers. It is chockfull of material which is well organised and referenced - the content is terrific.' - Jason Price, Lecturer in Drama and Performance Studies, University of Sussex, UK

'An entertaining whirl through the stars of the day, big and small, giving a flavour of their personality onstage and off...Double provides a perfect introduction to this colourful community of nomadic performers.' - Chortle

'This new book by Oliver Double on the history of Variety Theatre will be of interest to anyone who remembers it, or would like to know more about it...a wealth of well indexed information here from someone who really knows variety inside out, highly recommended.' -

'This is a clear, astute and well-evidenced digest of the saga of variety...For sound testimony, decisive judgement and enjoyable reading, it topped the bill for me.' - The Call Boy, the official journal of the British Music Hall Society

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