Not currently on display at the V&A

Poster

mid 20th century (printed)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

Typographical posters such as this were typical of the advertisements for variety theatres in Great Britain in the first half of the 20th century. Variety developed out of music hall and, like its predecessor, provided a number of entertainers on one programme. As small music halls gave way to the large variety theatres built by profitable concerns such as Moss Empires, the type of entertainment on offer became more ambitious. Variety shows typically took place twice-nightly, and the star performer whose spot was the culmination of the show, had their name at the top of the poster, literally 'topping the bill'.

Before the days of television and radio, Variety was tremendously popular. Every town in Britain would have boasted a variety theatre and its stars could command fabulous salaries. As cinema and television became the mass means of entertainment, a host of variety theatres were converted to cinemas or were closed. Seaside Variety shows fared better than most and kept their patrons in the 1950s and 1960s by engaging stars who made their name on the radio, in the burgeoning rock and pop industry, or in television.


Object details

Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Printed card
Brief description
Hanging card for the Queens Theatre, High Street, Poplar, advertising the 'hot' show Take a Look at Bedtime, running for the week commencing on Monday 10 October, n.y.
Physical description
Typographic and pictorial hanging card for the Queens Theatre, High Street, Poplar, printed in red and black, double pierced at the top with red string for suspension, with photographic image of a girl printed bottom right in black and white, advertising the ‘hot’ show Take a Look at Bedtime, running for the week commencing on Monday 10 October, n.y.
Dimensions
  • Height: 37.6cm
  • Width: 24.9cm
Marks and inscriptions
  • Stamp with the words 'The British Music Hall Society [...]'. (Printed verso in black ink, top left.)
  • Stamp with the words 'The British Music Hall Society [...]'. (Printed verso in black ink, top right.)
  • Transliteration
Credit line
Given by Gwendoline Playle
Summary
Typographical posters such as this were typical of the advertisements for variety theatres in Great Britain in the first half of the 20th century. Variety developed out of music hall and, like its predecessor, provided a number of entertainers on one programme. As small music halls gave way to the large variety theatres built by profitable concerns such as Moss Empires, the type of entertainment on offer became more ambitious. Variety shows typically took place twice-nightly, and the star performer whose spot was the culmination of the show, had their name at the top of the poster, literally 'topping the bill'.

Before the days of television and radio, Variety was tremendously popular. Every town in Britain would have boasted a variety theatre and its stars could command fabulous salaries. As cinema and television became the mass means of entertainment, a host of variety theatres were converted to cinemas or were closed. Seaside Variety shows fared better than most and kept their patrons in the 1950s and 1960s by engaging stars who made their name on the radio, in the burgeoning rock and pop industry, or in television.
Collection
Accession number
S.269-2008

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Record createdNovember 13, 2008
Record URL
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