Dedicated to the memory of Nick Keeping. See this link.


I started teaching at Anglo-Continental School of English in Bournemouth in January 1971. The supervisor of "F Group", the beginners' section, was Colin Granger. Guy Wellman was the supervisor of "E Group" (Elementary). I soon found out that the big event of the week was Wednesday evening, when the school restaurant converted into a 400 seat theatre for "Acted Lectures". There was a marble stage with a complete stage lighting system tucked away in the roof. The history of these Wednesdays was said to originate in the late 50s when Peter Cook and Dudley Moore had worked as temporary teachers, shortly before their success with "Beyond The fringe." The shows consisted of rehearsed readings of extracts from plays, acted out in rather silly costumes. Once a month, a full play was performed. This might be 'The Importance of Being Earnest,' 'The Knack', 'Waiting for Godot' or 'A View From The Bridge' on a rotation system. Colin produced, explained what was going on and acted.

Karen & Colin 1971

When Colin found out I'd done Drama as my BA subsiduary subject, I was roped in immediately, despite protesting that my speciality was stage lighting. The basic cast consisted of Colin, Guy and me. We were always short of women actors. The school employed no female teachers at that time. One of the teachers, Nick Keeping, suggested we enrol Karen as our solitary female member. He had been in plays with her, and they'd been drama students together. Karen arrived for J.M. Synge's 'Playboy of the Western World' - the first and last time we performed it. She was an instant success and became a permanent team member.

Left   Karen & Colin, September 1971
Below   Karen & Peter, August 1971


In the summer, we had Peter da Silva, a drama lecturer friend of Colin's in the team as well. That summer we started to branch out, with original sketches slowly replacing the rehearsed readings. We improvised to a large degree. Once a month we still did a rehearsed reading of a play, but largely original material took the place of plays. And we dispensed with the books. Colin left that autumn, bequeathing me the role of producer, much to my surprise. From that point, Karen and I were writing new sketches; generally I produced; Karen directed. We brought Nick straight in to replace Colin.

Karen & Peter 1971



  Guy, Karen and Peter 1971
Guy, Karen and Peter 1971


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