Veteran comedian and actor Vic Oliver launched a stinging attack on television from the stage of the Palace Theatre on Monday night. he blamed it for the general decline and gradual disappearance of many of the country’s theatres.

And he pleaded for support of the last surviving live theatre in Hertfordshire – the Watford Palace.

As the applause died on the third curtain call of “Distinguished Gathering”, in which he is the star and guest artist this week, Mr Oliver stepped forward. His theme – Where have all the theatres gone? – took the audience by surprise.

Answering his own question, Mr Oliver continued: “Most of them have been pulled down to make way for supermarkets ... and it is the public’s fault. There is one theatre in Hertfordshire and they still worship that god called television.

“They listen to the greatest rubbish, say next morning how awful it was, then go back and switch it on again.”

And he begged them: “Please put a day aside each week to come to the theatre.”

In his dressing room after the show, Mr Oliver told me [writes John Stanley]: “If Watford loses its theatre it will sink to anonymity. It is a matter of civic and local pride. And it is up to local councils to see their theatres don’t go down the drain. Watford has all the airs of becoming a very important centre. It should not allow its theatre to die.”

[From the Watford Observer of March 20, 1964]

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