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Set Design - Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe

  • Object:

    Set Design

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (designed)

  • Date:

    1957 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Delany, Edward (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gouache and watercolour on paper.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Roger Fox

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Design for a Backcloth, for the 'Finale', created for Robinson Crusoe, London Palladium, 1957.

In 1947, Val Parnell took over the management of the London Palladium, one of the largest theatres in Britain. Under Parnell, the Palladium presented large-scale spectacular pantomimes until 1987 and became known as the Home of Pantomime due to its lavish productions featuring the biggest celebrity names of the time.

Robinson Crusoe was the West End’s only pantomime in 1957 and ran until 5th April 1958 starring comics Arthur Askey as Big Hearted Martha and Tommy Cooper as Abu.

The show’s scenary, designed by Edward Delany, achieved great praise, with the Daily Telegraph describing it as “lavish and glittering” and the Observer commenting that “magnificent and ever-changing splendours hold the eye.”
The production cost £40,000 to stage and is reported by the [Manchester] Guardian as having drawn “noises of pleasure” from the audience as scenes such as the Port of Panama, Davy Jones’ Locker, The Belly of a Whale and the Island of Juan Fernandez were revealed.

Physical description

Gouache and watercolour on card design for a Backcloth, created for the finale of Robinson Crusoe, London Palladium, 1957. The foreground of the Backcloth features a sandy island covered with palm trees, and with a ship, the sails unfurled, visible of the ocean scene which dominates the background. A four pointed compass has been added to the top left hand corner of the design.
A line drawn sketch for the original design, executed in black ink, is visible on the rear of the design.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (designed)


1957 (designed)


Delany, Edward (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Gouache and watercolour on paper.

Marks and inscriptions

Handwritten annotation in black pencil crayon on the rear of the design.


Height: 31.5 cm, Width: 63.8 cm approximate

Descriptive line

Design for a Backcloth, for the 'Finale', created for Robinson Crusoe, London Palladium, 1957


Paint; Card


Drawing; Painting


Designs; Entertainment & Leisure; Theatre


Theatre and Performance Collection

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