Michael Grade's eye, as a former theatrical agent, for a good entertaining turn, is much in evidence in this continuous succession of relevant, informative and entertaining interviews and performances, all linked by a common deep affection and respect for Music Hall. From theatrical curio seller to entertaining academic to keeper of the George Leybourne flame, Chris Beeching; each and everyone a real enthusiast - and excellent communicator, each allowed to freely strut their stuff by the low key and rather self-effacing Grade. There is no top billing, it is from each according to their means. Thesps Barry Cryer and Michael Kilgarriff gather round the piano to sing Music Hall songs just for the fun of it. But that's what Music Hall was about: enjoyment.
This is though all the while a solid documentary about the history of The Halls. Unlike many others Michael Grade deals in a mature and sensible way with with Mrs Ormiston Chant - morality campaigner. Music halls were very lewd places, indeed it is revealed that even what went on on stage was greatly eclipsed by what took place simultaneously in the darker recesses of the Glasgow Empire. This Grade explains, led to their demise and the rise of the respectable and family-friendly Moss and Stoll empires. .
Victorian life was very harsh for many, work was hard but those who would or could not seek solace in the Church sought it through enjoyment in the Music Halls. As the late Benny Green pointed out, some of the most eminent British (male) writers of the day were devotees of The Halls and paid tribute to the serious artistry of the performers. The legacy of Music Hall lives on in benign pallid memory in a string of familiar songs. Mercifully few know the real meaning of the songs they sing
Top billing must go to Michael Grade for being such an able chairman for this production.
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