17 JUNE 1972, Page 23

Will Waspe's Whispers

Ever wondered why so few theatres do poster advertising on London Underground stations? Someone was remarking to me that whereas nearly all the cinemas have posters, only about six out of forty theatres have them.

It's a long story — or, at least, a story that goes a long way back. It seems that over twenty years ago this cutting off noses' business started when the theatres took umbrage at a rise in London Transport poster rates. The Society of West End Theatre Managers debated the question and sternly recommended to its members that they refrain from such advertising in future.

The ' recommendation ' was indistinguishable from a total ban, and when Bernard Miles of the Mermaid applied for membership he was told he would have to withdraw his Underground posters. He withdrew his application instead, which led to a reconsideration of the ban. It was actually called off in 1968 (and Miles then joined the Society), but you'd hardly know it. Only a handful of managers — mostly new ones like Eddie Kulukundis and Robert Stigwood, and subsidised houses like the National Theatre — took advantage of the newly-granted freedom. Among the others, the old animosity still lingers. A long time to bear a grudge.


My colleague Evan Anthony's move in opening an art gallery of his own — the Covent Garden Gallery, which opened last week in Floral Hall with a Joe McGill exhibition — raises a tricky question for Stan Booth, who runs the already thriving Ansdell Gallery.

Some time ago, Booth asked Anthony to make the selection for a "Critic's choice" exhibition to be held at the Ansdell and has since been in negotiation for the pictures and artists Anthony chose. Question: does Booth want to be promoting pictures selected for him by a rival entrepreneur?

Anthony was quoted by the London Evening Standard the other day as saying "it will be fun to find out whether the pictures a critic likes are also pictures the public will like." Maybe Stan Booth should see how that question is answered before committing himself on the other one.


A programme I think I'll miss is BBC1's The Box Office Christ this Sunday. I could just about take David Essex (Jesus in Godspell) and Tim Rice (lyricist of Jesus Christ Superstar) on the topic, but Bishop Trevor Huddleston and American evangelist Arthur Blessitt getting into the act to rationalise the commercial success of the Jesus revolution would surely be too much to bear.