The Old Days of the Music Hall

This event has already taken place.

Host: Intelligence Squared
Location: Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR
Speaker: John Major, Dominic West

Former prime minister John Major and actor and star of The Wire Dominic West form an unlikely pairing – but they share an enthusiasm for music hall, an art form that was one of the glories of Victorian England. Sentimental, vulgar, class-conscious, but always patriotic and on the side of the underdog, music hall held a mirror to the audiences’ hopes and fears, and sometimes the general absurdity of life.

Vast, smoke-filled auditoriums were packed night after night in nearly every town and city in Britain. The most popular performers, such as Marie Lloyd, Vesta Tilley and George Robey, were among the highest paid and most celebrated figures in the land.

This was the world that John Major’s father Tom entered at the age of 21 as a comedian and singer. Major and West will discuss the colourful story of the British music hall, from its origins in Elizabethan times through to its heyday in the 1800s and eventual decline with the rise of radio and cinema in the twentieth century.

More Information

Latest News & Events