Darlington Civic Theatre

Darlington Civic Theatre or as it was known then, the New Hippodrome opened its doors in 1907 so was already over 30 years old at the start of the second World War.

The programme changed during the war years – to reflect the times – entwined around stage dramas were ‘risqué’ wartime revue shows and also regular fundraisers for the forces.. Some were described as wicked and witty and a feast for the eyes. The title of the war-time shows now reflected the times: Lights Out; Don’t Be Shy; Shoulder Arms and Legs; Capers and Sauce; See You in the Shelter; Naughty Naughty; Laughter and Lovelies (with Hylda Baker); High Diddle Diddle (with Jane of the Daily Mirror); Bare Facts of 1942; Don’t Blush Madam; and Bare Skins and Blushes. Popular entertainment for the nearby garrisons!

Interspersed with these attractions were to be found such names as the Laughterettes, Marda – the British Venus, Nellie Wallace, Tommy Cooper, Percy Edwards; Frankie Vaughan, Hetty King, Cavan O’Connor and Cardew Robinson. Among the straight plays offered were No Trees On The Street, by Ted Willis – Naked! Raw! Gripping! The Harry Hanson Players in I am a Camera, by John Van Druten – a daring and brilliant play – not suitable for children, plus Blackmail by Charles Bennett – not suitable for children, plus Blackmail by Charles Bennett – not for the nervous. Even Paul Raymond found his way to Darlington with the most famous strip tease artiste of them all, Phyllis Dixey in her show Peek-A-Boo.

Performances were on a rolling programme enabling servicemen and women to be entertained whenever they had a few hours leave. All HM forces were offered admission at half price for all performances.

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