Footlights

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For the theatrical equipment, see Footlight.
The ADC Theatre is the home of the Footlights.

Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club, commonly referred to simply as the Footlights, is an amateur theatrical club in Cambridge, England, founded in 1883[1] and run by the students of Cambridge University.

History[edit]

Footlights' inaugural performance took place in June 1883. For some months before the name "Footlights" was chosen, the group had performed to local audiences in the Cambridge area (once, with a cricket match included, at the "pauper lunatic asylum"). They wished to go wider than the University Amateur Dramatic Club (ADC), founded in 1855, with its membership drawn largely from Trinity College, and its theatre seating only 100. They were to perform every May Week at the Theatre Royal, the shows soon open to the public. A local paper commended the Club's appeal to the "general public, the many different classes of which life in Cambridge is made up".[1]

The club grew in prominence in the 1960s as a hotbed of comedy and satire. Having established a tradition of performing at the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the club entered the mainstream when its members formed half of Beyond the Fringe, the hugely popular stage revue which toured Britain and America in 1960. The 1963 revue then followed in the footsteps of Beyond the Fringe, appearing in Edinburgh and London's West End, before travelling to New Zealand and the United States, where it made appearances on Broadway and The Ed Sullivan Show and received a full-page review in Time. Over the next decade, Footlights members came to dominate British comedy, creating and starring in shows such as I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again, At Last the 1948 Show and That Was The Week That Was, forming comedy groups such as Monty Python and The Goodies, and generally fuelling the satire boom.[2][3][4]

During the 1980s, Footlights reinforced its position at the heart of British comedy. The 1981 revue won the inaugural Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and spawned Fry and Laurie, the first in a long line of popular and successful double acts formed at the club.[5][6][7] Many of its former members have gone on to win Oscars, BAFTAs and other awards and enjoy success in the entertainment and media industry.[citation needed]

Today, Footlights is recognised as a finishing school for many of Britain's most well-known comic entertainers.

Activities[edit]

During term, Footlights produce the regular and very popular Smokers – an informal mixture of sketches and stand-up – at the ADC Theatre. The club also performs plays, pantomimes and sketch shows and least one revue, usually in the spring. Outside of term, Footlights often go on tour, performing their best new material in the West End and abroad. For information about individual Footlights revues, see Cambridge Footlights Revue.

Notable former members[edit]

The careers of many prominent figures in the world of entertainment began in Footlights – while prominent figures in other industries also took part in Footlights. They include:

Name Birth Death Career
Douglas Adams
1952
2001
Comedy writer, known for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Clive Anderson
1952
Comedian, television presenter, barrister
David Armand
1977
Comedian, actor, member of The Hollow Men
Alexander Armstrong
1970
Comedian, television presenter, half of Armstrong and Miller
Pete Atkin
1945
Singer-songwriter, radio producer, known for This Sceptred Isle
Richard Ayoade
1977
Comedian, actor, director, co-creator of Garth Marenghi
James Bachman
1972
Comedian, actor, writer
David Baddiel
1964
Comedian, novelist, television presenter, half of Newman and Baddiel
Morwenna Banks
1964
Comedian, actor
Humphrey Barclay
1941
Comedy executive, producer of I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again
Brian Barder
1934
Diplomat, popular blogger
Tom Basden
1981
Comedy writer and performer, singer-songwriter, member of Cowards
Robert Bathurst
1957
Actor
Cecil Beaton
1904
1980
Photographer, interior designer, stage and costume designer
Peter Bennett-Jones
1956
Television producer and agent, co-founder of Tiger Aspect and Comic Relief
Martin Bergman
1957
Producer, writer, director
John Bird
1936
Comedian, actor, satirist, member of Bremner, Bird and Fortune
Simon Bird
1984
Comedian, actor, known for The Inbetweeners
Timothy Birdsall
1936
1963
Cartoonist
Christopher Booker
1937
Journalist, author, founding editor of Private Eye
Leslie Bricusse
1931
Lyricist, composer, playwright, known for Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Eleanor Bron
1938
Actress, writer
Tim Brooke-Taylor
1940
Comedy writer and performer, member of The Goodies
Gus Brown
1974
Comedian, actor, half of Laurence and Gus
Spencer Brown
1978
Comedian
Robert Buckman
1948
2011
Comedian, writer, television presenter, columnist, physician
Tony Buffery
Psychologist, actor, comedian, writer, known for Twice a Fortnight
John Cameron
1944
Composer, arranger, conductor, musician
Jon Canter
1953
Comedy scriptwriter, principal writer for Lenny Henry
Graham Chapman
1941
1989
Comedian, actor, writer, member of Monty Python
John Cleese
1939
Comedian, actor, writer, member of Monty Python
Olivia Colman
1974
Comedian, actor
Peter Cook
1937
1995
Comedy writer and performer, proprietor of Private Eye, member of Beyond the Fringe
Joe Craig
1980
Novelist, musician, known for the Jimmy Coates series
Thurston Dart
1921
1971
Keyboard player, conductor, musicologist
Russell Davies
1946
Journalist, broadcaster, presenter of Brain of Britain
Hugh Dennis
1962
Comedian, actor, writer, satirist, voice-over artist, half of Punt and Dennis
Penny Dwyer
1953
2003
Comedian, actor, writer, metallurgist
Jimmy Edwards
1920
1988
Comedy actor, writer, star of Take It From Here and Whack-O!
Mark Evans
Comedian, actor, writer
Julian Fellowes
1949
Screenwriter, director, actor, novelist, known for Gosford Park and Downton Abbey
Peter Fincham
1956
Television producer and executive, Director of Television at ITV
John Finnemore
1977
Comedy writer and performer
John Fortune
1939
2013
Comedian, actor, satirist, member of Bremner, Bird and Fortune
Michael Frayn
1933
Playwright, novelist, known for Noises Off and Copenhagen
Robin French
1978
Playwright, scriptwriter, songwriter
David Frost
1939
2013
Television presenter, interviewer, satirist, star of The Frost Report
Stephen Fry
1957
Comedian, writer, actor, novelist, half of Fry and Laurie, known for Jeeves and Wooster and as the presenter of QI
Graeme Garden
1943
Comedy writer and performer, illustrator, member of The Goodies
Bamber Gascoigne
1935
Television presenter, author, known for hosting University Challenge
Mel Giedroyc
1968
Actor, writer, television presenter, half of Mel and Sue
Stefan Golaszewski
1982
Comedian, writer, director, member of Cowards
Matt Green
1979
Comedian, writer, actor
Germaine Greer
1939
Writer, broadcaster, academic
John Grillo
1942
Actor, playwright
Lawrence Grossmith
1877
1944
Actor
Nick Hancock
1962
Comedian, actor, television presenter, known for Room 101
Norman Hartnell
1901
1979
Fashion designer
David Hatch
1939
2007
Broadcasting manager, producer of Just a Minute and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue
Natalie Haynes
1974
Comedian, writer
Tony Hendra
1941
Satirist, writer, creator of Spitting Image
Kit Hesketh-Harvey
1957
Comedy writer and performer, half of Kit and The Widow
Tom Hollander
1967
Actor, co-creator and star of Rev.
Matthew Holness
1975
Comedian, co-creator of Garth Marenghi
Alex Horne
1978
Comedian
Kenneth Horne
1907
1969
Comedian, businessman, star of Round the Horne
Claude Hulbert
1900
1964
Comic actor
Jack Hulbert
1892
1978
Actor
Tristram Hunt
1974
Politician, historian, broadcaster, newspaper columnist
Nicholas Hytner
1956
Film and theatre producer, Director of the National Theatre
Eric Idle
1943
Comedian, actor, writer, songwriter, member of Monty Python
Clive James
1939
Writer, poet, critic
Jonathan James-Moore
1946
2005
Comedy producer, theatre manager
Peter Jeffrey
1929
1999
Actor
Rufus Jones
1976
Comedy writer and performer, member of Dutch Elm Conservatoire
Simon Jones
1950
Actor
Jo Kendall
Actor
Tim Key
1976
Comedian, actor, poet, member of Cowards
Paul King
1978
Comedy director, known for The Mighty Boosh
Matt Kirshen
1980
Comedian
Ian Lang
1940
Politician, business executive
Hugh Latimer
1913
2006
Actor, toymaker
Hugh Laurie
1959
Comedian, actor, writer, musician, half of Fry and Laurie, known for Jeeves and Wooster and the TV series House
John Lloyd
1951
Comedy producer and writer, creator of Have I Got News for You and QI
Nicholas Luard
1937
2004
Satirist, travel writer, owner of Private Eye, co-founder of The Establishment
Jonathan Lynn
1943
Comedy writer, actor, director, creator of Yes, Minister
Miriam Margolyes
1941
Actor
Dan Mazer
1971
Comedian, producer, screenwriter, known for work with Sacha Baron Cohen
Simon McBurney
1957
Actor, writer, director, founder of Complicite
Kevin McCloud
1958
Writer, designer, television presenter
Geoffrey McGivern
1952
Comedy actor
Rory McGrath
1956
Comedian, co-founder of Hat Trick Productions
Ben Miller
1966
Comedian, director, actor, half of Armstrong and Miller
Jonathan Miller
1934
Theatre and opera director, humorist, sculptor, member of Beyond the Fringe
David Mitchell
1974
Comedian, actor, writer, half of Mitchell and Webb
Nick Mohammed
1980
Comedian, actor, writer
Lucy Montgomery
1975
Comedian, actor, writer
Neil Mullarkey
1961
Comedian, actor, writer, founding member of The Comedy Store Players
Jimmy Mulville
1955
Comedian, writer, television presenter, co-founder of Hat Trick Productions
Simon Munnery
1972
Comedian
Richard Murdoch
1907
1990
Comic actor
Jon Naismith
1965
Comedy producer, creator of The Unbelievable Truth, producer of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue
Henry Naylor
1968
Comedy writer and performer, half of Parsons and Naylor
David Nobbs
1935
Comedy writer, creator of the Reggie Perrin series
Trevor Nunn
1940
Theatre and film producer, Director of the National Theatre
Des O'Connor
1972
Television presenter, burlesque performer, musician, lyricist
Michael O'Donnell
1928
Journalist, author, broadcaster, physician
Bill Oddie
1941
Comedian, actor, musician, naturalist, television presenter, member of The Goodies
John Oliver
1977
Comedian, writer, television personality of The Daily Show fame
Richard Osman
1970
Producer, Creative Director of Endemol UK, co-presenter of Pointless
Andy Parsons
1967
Comedian, comedy writer, half of Parsons and Naylor
Sue Perkins
1969
Comedian, actor, writer, television presenter, half of Mel and Sue
Steve Punt
1962
Comedian, actor, writer, half of Punt and Dennis
Jan Ravens
1958
Actor, impressionist
Griff Rhys Jones
1953
Comedian, actor, writer, co-founder of Talkback, half of Alas Smith and Jones
Blake Ritson
1980
Actor, director, writer
John-Luke Roberts
1985
Comedy writer and performer, known for Spats
Salman Rushdie[8]
1947
Booker Prize-winning novelist
Tanya Seghatchian
1968
Film producer, former Head of the Development Fund at the UK Film Council and British Film Institute
Peter Shaffer
1926
Playwright, known for Equus and Amadeus
Charles Shaughnessy
1955
Actor
Paul Shearer
1960
Comedy writer and performer, known for The Fast Show
John Shrapnel
1942
Actor
Richard Sisson
1957
Pianist, composer, half of Kit and The Widow
Julian Slade
1930
2006
Musical theatre composer, known for Salad Days
Tony Slattery
1959
Comedian, actor
Ali Smith
1962
Novelist, short story writer, journalist, known for Hotel World
Michael Marshall Smith
1965
Novelist, screenwriter, short story writer
Gregory Snegoff
1955
Voice-over artist, writer, director
Sarah Solemani
1986
Writer, actress
Dan Stevens
1982
Actor
Richard Stilgoe
1943
Songwriter, lyricist, musician
William Sutcliffe
1971
Novelist
Jonny Sweet
1985
Comedian, writer
Edward Taylor
1931
Comedy writer, radio producer, creator of The Men from the Ministry
Joe Thomas
1983
Comedian, actor, writer, known for The Inbetweeners
Emma Thompson
1959
Comedian, actress, screenwriter
Sandi Toksvig
1958
Comedian, writer, presenter of The News Quiz
David Tyler
1961
TV & radio producer (aka David Meek)
Richard Vranch
1959
Comedian, actor, musician, founding member of The Comedy Store Players
Nicola Walker
1970
Actress, known for Spooks
Ian Wallace
1919
2009
Opera singer, actor, broadcaster
Mark Watson
1980
Comedian, novelist, radio presenter
Robert Webb
1972
Comedian, actor, writer, half of Mitchell and Webb
Ed Weeks
1980
Comedian, actor, writer
Christopher Winchester
1972
Actor, writer, musical comedian
Mark Wing-Davey
1948
Actor, director
Sophie Winkleman
1980
Actress
David Wolstencroft
1969
Scriptwriter, creator of Spooks
Richard Wordsworth
1915
1993
Character actor
Maury Yeston
1945
Film composer, lyricist, musicologist
Martin Young
1947
Television reporter, interviewer, co-creator of Rough Justice

Presidents[edit]

The elected leader of Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club is known as the president, who is assisted by a vice-president, treasurer, archivist and several other posts to form the committee.

Past notable presidents have included the following:

List of presidents
  • 1886 – F. W. Mortimer
  • 1887 – J. J. Withers
  • 1890 – Oscar Browning
  • 1891 – C. M. Rae
  • 1892 – Oscar Browning
  • 1894 – Oscar Browning
  • 1895 – Oscar Browning
  • 1896 – H. C. Pollitt
  • 1897 – H. C. Pollitt
  • 1898 – M. V. Leveaux
  • 1899 – S. W. Burgess
  • 1900 – O. J. Goedecker
  • 1901 – R. J. White
  • 1902 – E. K. Fordham
  • 1904 – G. S. Heathcote
  • 1905 – G.S. Heathcote
  • 1906 – H. Rottenburg
  • 1907 – H. Rottenburg
  • 1908 – J. S. Murray
  • 1909 – L. B. Tillard
  • 1910 – A. R. Inglis
  • 1911 – A. R. Inglis
  • 1912 – P. D. Ravenscroft
  • 1913 – C. A. A. Douglas Hamilton
  • 1914 – M. Cutherston
  • 1919 – B. D. Nicholson
  • 1920 – B. D. Nicholson
  • 1921 – M. D. Lyon
  • 1922 – M. D. Lyon
  • 1923 – F. E. Powell
  • 1924 – J. A. C. Barradale
  • 1925 – H. J. Warrender
  • 1926 – J. D. Houison Craufurd
  • 1927 – H. C. Martineau
  • 1928 – H. E. R. Mitchell
  • 1929 – J. Fell Clark
  • 1930 – J. C. Byrom
  • 1931 – R. S. Hill
  • 1932 – P. E. Lyon
  • 1933 – J. A. Coates
  • 1934 – Lord Killanin
  • 1935 – Harry Lee
  • 1936 – Peter Crane
  • 1937 – Albert E. P. Robison
  • 1938 – P. B. Meyer
  • 1939 – Sir Robert Ricketts
  • 1947 – D. C. Orders
  • 1948 – D. C. Orders
  • 1949 – Simon Phipps
  • 1950 – Adrian Vale
  • 1951 – Ian Kellie
  • 1952 – Andrew Davidson
  • 1953 – Peter Firth
  • 1954 – Leslie Bricusse
  • 1955 – Brian Marber
  • 1956 – Tim Berington
  • 1957 – Allan Mitchell
  • 1958 – Peter Stroud
  • 1959 – Adrian Slade

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

Information about the Footlights Revues during the first one hundred years of the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club (1883–1983) and the people who appeared in them, with a foreword by Eric Idle.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Footlights history". Footlights.org. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  2. ^ Footlights!—'A Hundred Years of Cambridge Comedy'—Robert Hewison, Methuen London Ltd, 1983.
  3. ^ From Fringe to Flying Circus – 'Celebrating a Unique Generation of Comedy 1960–1980' – Roger Wilmut, Eyre Methuen Ltd, 1980.
  4. ^ The Broadway League. "Cambridge Circus". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "Why Footlights is a breeding ground for double acts". BBC News. 6 December 2010. 
  6. ^ "The South Bank Show: The Cambridge Footlights". cam.ac.uk. 30 January 2009. 
  7. ^ "The Cambridge Footlights: First steps into comedy". independent.co.uk. 28 January 2009. 
  8. ^ "Desert Island Discs – Castaway : Salman Rushdie". BBC. 18 September 1988. Retrieved 26 August 2013. 
  9. ^ Hewison, Robert (1983). Footlights! – a hundred years of Cambridge comedy. Methuen London Ltd. ISBN 978-0-413-51150-8. 

External links[edit]