THE TUP’NEY RUSH
By Eric Fowler
In 1962 I left the Isle of Wight and the cinema business to become an arts and entertainment manager in Local Government, first for tithe Borough of Watford, then Camberley, next Aldershot and finally to Slough in 1974. The work was mainly theatrical covering plays, pantomime, concerts, shows, wrestling and various types of leisure functions, booking and and meeting many international stars and royalty, and helping local drama and music societies.
It was as general manager of the huge entertainment complex in Slough, a part of which was the Planet Theatre, that I was able to introduce occasional films into the theatre programme.
Cinemas in Slough had contracted to just one by 1977, so although barred from first run films my theatre found a small market for blockbuster re-runs and specialist titles. John Huntley’s railway and wildlife films proved popular.
Henry V was shown to 6th form students, it being their curriculum subject. Amazingly not even a teacher commented when a reel was inadvertently shown in the wrong order causing Laurence Olivier to deliver his victory speech BEFORE the battle had taken place!
An Indian society hired the theatre on Sunday’s to watch Indian language films. The shows, always packed with a sea of dark faces only distinguishable in the gloom when white teeth gleamed in laughter. Films with the same plot and actors frequently ran for six hours, and next morning the cleaners almost revolted over the large amount of refuse to be dealt with. The volatile mix of Indian, Pakistani and West Indians sometimes came to blows. They never damaged the theatre, just one another.
Regrettably illness struck me in 1980 and I was advised to find a less stressful occupation. I resigned from Local Government. The wonderful entertainment centre became a multiplex cinema and popcorn palace a few years later.