Tickets sold out for Ayckbourn’s “Bedroom Farce”

November 2023: Tickets for BAD Company’s production of Alan Ayckbourn’s hilarious comedy “Bedroom Farce” sold out before the show opened on November 1st.

The play, directed by Jo Knight, was dedicated to the memory of actress Janet Dale who lived in Blockley for many years, was an active supporter of BAD Company, and had played Jan in the 1975 production of “Bedroom Farce” at Ayckbourn’s home theatre in Scarborough (see below).

The comedy tells how Trevor and Susannah, whose marriage is on the rocks, inflict their miseries on their nearest and dearest – three couples whose own relationships are tenuous at best. Taking place sequentially in the three beleaguered couples’ bedrooms during one endless Saturday night of co-dependence and dysfunction, beds, tempers, and domestic order are ruffled, leading all the players to a hilariously touching epiphany.

Tracy Humphreys, Nikki Holt, Chris Priest and David Artingstall in rehearsal

In the BAD Company cast were Graham New as Ernest, Jane Grafton as Delia, Charles Redman as Nick, Sandra Gee as Jan, David Artingstall as Malcolm, Tracey Humphries as Kate, Chris Priest as Trevor and Nikki Holt as Susannah. The set was designed and built By Simon Knowles-Bolton.

Local actress Janet Dale to be honoured in next Blockley stage production

September 2023: The forthcoming Blockley production* of Alan Ayckbourn’s highly successful comedy Bedroom Farce was dedicated to the memory of actress Janet Dale who lived in Blockley for many years and was an active supporter of Blockley Amateur Dramatic Company (BAD Company).

Known as Lucy to her friends, Janet died from a brain tumour in July this year.  A highly versatile actress, she had played Jan in the 1975 production of Bedroom Farce at Ayckbourn’s home theatre in Scarborough.

Later she appeared in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s award-winning production of Nicholas Nickleby and played Queen Charlotte in Alan Bennett’s much acclaimed play The Madness of George III.

Among the many popular TV series in which she appeared were Coronation Street, Casualty, Holby City, Heartbeat, The Bill and, more recently, the Blockley located BBC production of Father Brown.

In Blockley she was always available to offer advice to BAD Company cast members, being particularly helpful in coaching them in voice projection. 

An enthusiastic animal lover, she became a volunteer with the Cats Protection League.  She also established the popular plastic Duck Race on Blockley Brook to raise money for local charities.

A vicar dies and an hilarious comedy follows

BAD Company’s production rated “absolutely brilliant”

January 2023: The Reverend Bardolph Thomas has sadly died and his widow Grace has been bearing her grief with dignity.  Until now.  

The unexpected arrival of her eccentric missionary sister Ruth, the curiosity of her psychotherapist daughter Jo and the need to cope with questions from the next incumbent all combine to prompt a transformation of Grace’s character – from a dutiful vicar’s wife into an independently minded lady who says and does what she wants.

As the plot of Richard Everett’s play “Entertaining Angels” unfolds, an hilarious sequence of revelations challenges Grace’s perception of her marriage.  

The BAD Company production was directed by Jo Knight and staged on February 23, 24 and 25 2023. 

Among the cast were a number of popular figures from previous productions, including these familiar faces from the recent uproarious performance of ‘Allo ‘Allo: Jane Grafton (playing Grace), Sandra Gee, Charles Redman and Caroline Gee.

Audiences were lavish in their praise:

“Excellent choice of play and cast, excellent set, excellent direction, excellent acting, excellent production team, excellent stage mangement and crewing.  Congratulations to all.”

“What a super performance! Many congratulations to all the cast of a top production.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.  Great director and even the programme was good! Well done.”

“OMG,  absolutely brilliant.  Congratulations to everyone.  Well done director Jo.  Set was fab.  Lighting and sound spot on.  What can I say? Bravo!”

“I just want to thank you and congratulate you on the performance yesterday.  We laughed, we cried and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.  An amazing play with an amazing cast – well over and above the usual village hall standard!”

The original play starred Penelope Keith and began life at The Chichester Festival Theatre where it played to a record-breaking 26,000 people in just over 3 weeks, followed by a sell-out UK national tour playing to over 100,000 people. “This is a funny, touching and genuinely thought-provoking comedy and one that surely deserves a West End transfer”, commented The Daily Telegraph at the time.

Casting chaos!

BAD Company contributes to Jubilee celebrations

As its contribution to the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations BAD Company performed a new comedy sketch based on auditions held in 1953 for the musical The Boy Friend by Sandy Wilson. 

Originally staged in 1953

Written and directed by Jo Knight, the sketch was performed in the grounds adjoining St George’s Hall on Sunday 5 June to a very appreciative audience.

Set in Blockley where the director Tarquin was said to live, the performance exposed the chaos and in-fighting behind the scenes of production auditions. There were more dramatics off set than on.

In the sketch The Boy Friend‘s director is a ladies’ man and has promised the part to his latest conquest.  She is smugly confident she has the part.

Concluding consternation

The co-director has unwisely invited his debutant niece to the audition.  She has little talent and no experience.

The third candidate – a dancer and singer – is the prize pupil of the choreographer and on those grounds she too is expecting to get the part.

The choreographer has travelled to Blockley from London.  She is impatient and with good reason.  The director is late onto set, the leading lady never arrives and a niece with two left feet is auditioning.

When the director arrives late he refuses to engage with the arguments.  He passes everything over to his ineffectual co-director and, when that fails, turns to the efficient but overworked gofer called Lulu.  Lulu is in charge of, and takes the blame for, everything.

Left to right: Sue Downing, Evie Bowyer, Nikki Holt, Anne O’Neil, Graham New (seated), Stephen Downing

Members’ newsletter – March 2022

As we awake from the dark winter months and begin to look forward to the Spring, BAD Company is planning for the forthcoming season. Events to note in your diary are:

28th March:  Entertainment Evening by Zoom including extracts from the works of Victoria Wood and other light-hearted poetry and other offerings….contact Evie Bowyer on if you wish to participate or listen. Jo Knight will be hosting the evening and will organise future Zoom events.

Queen’s Jubilee Weekend: If the timetable for the celebrations permits, Jo Knight is intending to direct a BAD Company contribution based on auditions for The Boyfriend which was running in London in 1953. Please contact Jo if interested in taking part.

11th June: Open air production by Rain or Shine on Churchill Close of The Recruiting Officer including the opportunity for an open-air supper or picnic. Families welcome. Tickets will be available for purchase on-line or at Blockley Shop in due course.

28th to 30th July: possible summer production directed by Bill Wilkinson…. Further details and audition dates to be announced.

27th to 29th October: Allo ‘Allo directed by Sue Downing….this is a large cast production and Sue would welcome expressions of interest by 21st March… auditions in May. Rehearsals commence in September…contact Sue on 07850 832547 or

BAD Company members wowed Blockley Discussion Group on Valentine’s Day

February 2022: A collection of readings from the vast literature of love proved very popular with the Blockley Discussion Group on Monday 14 February, as the chairman’s letter shows.

Letter from Paul Adams, chairman of Blockley Discussion Group

The evening’s programme comprised romantic scenes, lyrics, letters, poems, proposals, memorials, memories, drama and dreams. 

They were presented by Stephen Downing, Sue Downing, Sandra Gee and Graham New.

A subsequent performance was given to the residents of Orchard Bank (the performers pictured here left to right).

An evening with Noel Coward banished the COVID gloom!

October 2021: Blockley welcomed the village’s talented thespians back to the stage this month when BAD Company* presented the life story of the theatrical giant Noel Coward in words and music. 

Entitled Cowardy Custard, the production was first presented at London’s Mermaid Theatre in 1972 and ran for 405 performances, featuring scenes and unforgettable songs created by Coward between the nineteen twenties and the nineteen sixties.

Highlights included extracts from Coward’s plays “Private Lives”, “Brief Encounter” and “Hay Fever”. There was also an excerpt from the séance scene in “Blithe Spirit” that was memorably performed by BAD Company in 2018.  Coward’s songs included “Mad Dogs and Englishmen”, “Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage Mrs Worthington”, “Bad Times Are Just Around The Corner” and “Someday I’ll Find You”.

This fast moving and hilarious production featured a large cast of actors, singers and dancers – amply demonstrating the talents hidden during the last eighteen months of lockdown.

In addition to composing songs and writing plays, Noel Coward produced, directed, danced and sang his way into the hearts of twentieth century theatre-goers. He was knighted in 1970 and died in Jamaica in 1973.

“Given the times we’ve been through over the last 18 or so months, I felt we needed something to lift our spirits”, explained the show’s director Sue Downing.  “Capturing the very essence of bygone glamour and romance, Cowardy Custard seemed a hugely appropriate piece for BAD Company to produce as live theatre returns to Blockley.”

Sue Downing: directing “Cowardy Custard”

Sue is a relative newcomer to the village and has already appeared in BAD company’s productions of “Blithe Spirit” and “Bazaar & Rummage”. Previously she lived in Kidderminster where, with her husband Stephen, she was an active member of the Rose Theatre.   Sue also worked as a volunteer for the charity “Mentor Link” which provides mentoring support to vulnerable and distressed young people.

“Cowardy Custard” was presented in St George’s Hall, Blockley, nightly from Thursday October 28th,with a matinee on Saturday October 30th and culminating in a grand Gala performance that evening when the audience was encouraged to dress suitably for a “black tie” occasion. 

  • Blockley Amateur Dramatic Company.

Listen here to Sue Downing being interviewed by Nicky Price on BBC Radio Gloucestershire .

Chairman’s Annual Report 2021

September 2021: Turning to the past year, it is not surprising that there is a lot less to say bearing in mind that for obvious reasons we have not been able to stage any live shows. However this does not mean that we have been totally moribund and lacking in virtual entertainment. Indeed when I look back on what we have done this past year it is a little surprising to see what has been achieved.

BAD Playmates by Zoom

We are indebted to the energy and enterprise of Evie Bowyer for suggesting and energetically realising the innovative idea of reading plays through Zoom technology despite the initial doubts of your chairman. After a small group of us initially tried this approach we realised that it could work and publicized it to the whole of our company. Accordingly we subsequently “staged” on a monthly basis the following plays which included (not in any particular order):

When we were Married, A Murder is Announced, Bedroom Farce, Season’s Greetings, Under Milk Wood, The Real Inspector Hound, The Importance of Being Earnest, Les Liaisons Dangereuse, Allo Allo

This was a formidable season and something of which we as an amateur company should be proud. It enabled us to continue to enjoy the theatre (admittedly in limited form) and to share each other’s company socially in a relaxed atmosphere with a glass of wine. There were surprisingly few mishaps technically due (in no small part to Evie’s strict control of proceedings.

In addition, inspired by Leo, we had some evenings of poetry and song including a Christmas Party and two further evenings which attracted varied and enjoyable contributions from members.

It is hoped to begin our Zoom meetings again in November with Jo leading us in the first play reading.

Future programme

We are now recommencing live productions in October with Cowardy Custard directed by Sue Downing which is already well into rehearsal and for which tickets are on sale. I do not intend to say any more about this so that Sue can tell you herself in a few moments.

We are also planning further shows in February and October next year in St George’s Hall with a possible studio production in Jubilee Hall in June.

In addition we have been requested by the Blockley Discussion Group to contribute readings and entertainment to an evening in February.

Other matters

We were saddened this past year by the death of our long time supporter and very active member Irene Jowett. Irene with her husband Don was a founder member of BAD Co who not only appeared in, but also co-wrote, the scripts of our early shows. Indeed it was Don and Irene who wrote the Mystery Plays staged in the Church and on Churchill Close which really began the modern incarnation of an amateur theatrical group in the village. Not only was Irene a playwright but she was also a prolific writer of amusing and witty poetry. We will miss her and send our condolences to Don.

Nikki Holt has had a serious operation recently from which she is at home and recovering. Jenny organised a collection to enable her to purchase items for her garden which we hope she will enjoy next summer. We all wish her well.

Our long-standing member and past chairman Dick Robinson left the village last year. Dick was a consummate and able actor who appeared in many shows and who will be a sad loss to our troupe.

St George’s Hall

We have two members of our Committee on the SGH committee namely Jenny Bruce and Stephen Downing. The management of the Hall is now under the control of Tom and Laura Bradley who have shown themselves to be supporters of BAD Co and are now initiating steps to thoroughly clean and redecorate it.

We are indebted to Simon Bolton who has taken over the backstage lighting and sets and fitted out our shed with shelving so that we now have ample storage with easy access to the Hall.

Rain or Shine

We had a visit from Rain or Shine in early July and for once after a threatening afternoon we enjoyed dry conditions for the performance of She Stoops To Conquer. Once again we were able to eat and drink outside whilst enjoying their usual hilarious and innovative approach. Thanks again to The Bowling Club who provided electricity. We made a donation to the Club of £50 in recognition of their help and made approximately £400.

Bad Taste

Clearly the last year has prevented our usual social functions but we hope that we can enjoy our periodic get togethers again soon. Jenny is working on it!

Graham New