Blackpool was once the entertainment capital of the north of England. During its summer seasons, up to twenty theaters were in continuous use, while all the big variety stars competed with one another for huge audiences, many of whom went back year after year to enjoy the town's attractions. BLACKPOOL: BIG NIGHT OUT celebrates the golden days of variety during the mid- to late twentieth century, when all the big names of television and theater spent their summers performing twice- nightly to huge audiences. This was a time when most people only had two weeks per annum, and spent much of their time staying in boarding houses in seaside resorts like Blackpool. They were a captive audience: the better the shows on offer, the more of them they were likely to see. While the program's narrative is girt with the roseate glow of nostalgia (all the interviewees look back on their variety days with pleasure, conveniently avoiding the seamier sides of their existence), it nonetheless shows how the television companies fed off Blackpool's popularity as a summer resort: many shows were either recorded or transmitted live from local theaters, attracting huge ratings in the process. The Beatles premiered their song "A Hard Day's Night" at the ABC Theatre in the mid-Sixties. While the theaters still survive today, their summer bill of fare has changed: most leading comics and/or artistes no longer play summer seasons. The only entertainment to survive is the Blackpool Tower Circus, which soldiers on regardless, attracting a core audience of locals and visitors.
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