The Ambridge Christmas Concert was introduced in 1962, and later morphed into the Ambridge Christmas Revue, which was (according to the Echo on at least one occasion) a glittering success. Latterly there has more often been The Pantomime.
Everyman (a morality play)
Produced by Marjorie Antrobus
Produced and directed by Lynda Snell.
A wartime revue
Produced by Marjorie Antrobus
First mentioned on 2nd October.
with Larry Lovell directing and Lynda being a pest throughout, then arriving late for the performance so that there were two Fairy Godmothers on stage because Baron Hardup (Larry) doubled to cover her absence. Debbie was Principal Boy and Nelson Gabriel was one of the Ugly Sisters, in four-inch-heeled bright red shoes which gave Julia quite the wrong idea about him when she came across them in his house. Hayley played Cinders. It was a great success.
First mentioned on 2nd October.
At Peggy's suggestion they held a Victorian Christmas Fayre instead of having a panto.
(Lynda Snell had also produced A Midsummer Night's Dream during the same year.)
First mentioned on 9th October.
Jack and the Beanstalk,
directed by Larry Lovell and complete with casting difficulties, a disaster (a burst water-pipe and the Fire Brigade being called out), and a last-minute stand-in for Higgs, who was drunk from a cold-cure; never mind, the whole village enjoyed the panto, as even the uncast Lynda had to admit.
First mentioned on 8th September.
Babes in the Wood, after being in dispute for a while.
Larry Lovell tried to advertise auditions with a poster in The Bull; someone took it down. He was asked to resign and Lynda asked to take over, on 10th October; on 11th November she had not cast all the Merry Men; on December 1st she had not cast Alan a'Dale; inevitably, it was a great success, though Larry Lovell's review was mixed.
First mentioned on 17th July.
The poster went up in the Bull on 25th August, but naturally Lynda had trouble finding a cast; in September she offered Tom Archer £10 a night to take part. Then she blackmailed him, because he was using a part in the Mikado to cover two-timing Kirsty. In November Siobhán, in charge of scenery, told Lynda where to get off. At the beginning of December one of the two-timed women (Lauren, playing Yum-Yum to Tom's Nanky-Poo) found out and walked out; Hayley persuaded her back on 8th December. The wrong costumes were delivered on 13th, the dress rehearsal was a disaster on 17th, and they lost their Katisha to injury that day and had to re-cast the part. Naturally the first night on 20th was a great success, and the production made a profit on its three-night run.
First mentioned on 12th October;
Lynda put on a Victorian Christmas for everyone at Ambridge Hall with an Authentic Victorian Goose instead of a turkey. The Felpersham Players put on a panto in the Village Hall. Lynda gave it a scathing review.
First mentioned on 3rd October;
the village hall was fully booked so they would not be able to have a panto: the Felpersham Players had got in first. Phil organised Carols By Candlelight. Lynda then had a huge Hogmanay party.
First mentioned on 21st September.
Mystery Plays organised by Alan and Lynda.
On 19th October they had no Mary nor Joseph, and they were still casting at the beginning of December, but in the end on 24th December it was a great success.
First mentioned on 16th September.
A Christmas Carol.
Rehearsals were in full swing on 3rd November. Owen was a no-show on Opening Night (27th December) but it was a rousing success with Alan taking over the part of Fizziwig; Lynda stood in for Kathy who also didn't show up. (Yes, it was That year.) Alan also appeared as Dickens on the final night, and it was agreed by all to be a great success.
First mentioned on 7th November:
Julia had planned to do a Christmas show, but died on that day. Lynda took it on in Julia's memory. Various people took part, including Derek Fletcher playing the spoons, and it was a great success on 23rd December in spite of Betty having died before she could do her dance routine for it.
First mentioned on 10th October.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,
with Jill as the Wicked Queen, Alice as Snow White and David as Dopey. Casting went on until mid-November, but the first night on 28th December went well, and it was all a great success in the end and got a rave review in the Echo.
First mentioned on 30th October
as not happening because of the village flood. Turned out to be a Christmas Concert, with Lynda booking a Gospel choir and a Cathedral School choir as well as local talent (Fallon). It was a great success.
First mentioned 20th October.
Jack and the Beanstalk.
The Dame had not been cast by 4th November; Lynda got flu and Robert was left in charge, but as soon as she was well enough on 18th she wanted to alter his casting before the first rehearsal on 19th (which she did). They lost their Jack (Sabrina Thwaite) on 30th November, but on the following day Fallon (who had been Jill) took on Jack to Brenda's Jill. During December about half the cast went down with flu, and on 19th Lynda was in floods of tears and convinced it would have to be called off; on 28th, the first night, Ambridge had never seen anything like Jack and the Amazing Collapsing Beanstalk. Graham Ryder threatened on the second night to close the show because the beanstalk was a hazard to the audience, but Alistair fooled him with some fake pulleys for it on the following day and the panto went on and was a great success.
First mentioned 22nd October;
Lynda said she wouldn't be doing a panto because her step-daughter was expecting a baby. As far as I know, there wasn't one; the Lower Loxley Christmas Extravaganza "Deck the Hall" was all we got.
First mention on 18th October.
First rehearsal on 31st October, and Sabrina Thwaite as the Cat was much admired. Most of the parts still had to be filled at this point. Nigel was the Dame, cast on 28th November. The rehearsals were chaotic, but it was a great success on the nights of 28th, 29th and 30th December.
First mentioned on 25th September,
when Lynda said she would organise a concert instead of a panto this year. They did "Christmas Round the World" as a cabaret, after much tribulation, and it was a great success.
First mentioned on 26th September.
Lynda wanted to do Much Ado About Nothing, but in the end after Jim put forward the idea of an adaptation of Hard Times they did a Shakespeare compilation in an Elizabethan style, with Robert producing a set to look like The Globe. It was dreary in spite of being called Revels until it was rescued by Kenton as the Lord of Misrule, and was a great success. Lynda was horrified and outraged, then took the credit when Kenton very generously made a speech in which he gave it to her.
First mentioned on 3rd October.
Robin Hood and His Merry Men
although Lynda had wanted a Jane Austen-themed event. Casting started on 20th October at an audition to which two people came; Robert suggested doing it along the lines of the Sean Connery film, though that idea later fell by the wayside; Jess volunteered Rob to play Robin Hood opposite Kirsty's Maid Marion, which really didn't work; Rob resigned and Lynda roped Tom into the part instead on 8th December. The show was a sell-out and a great success.
First mentioned on 5th November.
This was a vanity project and broadcast on Radio 4 with Sean O'Connor as director. In The Archers it was a disaster from the start. Alice butted in and without actually consulting Lynda, the director, offered the lead to Douglas Herrington when they still didn't have one on 5th December; and Caroline pulled out on 8th December, not to mention Helen leaving the cast on 12th December and then getting back into it again on 21st; it was a complete carve-up until it was performed, when suddenly it was a great success and Tristram Hawkshaw raved over it.
First mentioned on 5th October.
Another vanity project for the Archers' editor to have on Radio 4. As with Blithe Spirit, lots of false jeopardy and people not doing their parts, followed by a great success in spite of it being on the radio and also that play not being available on licence in 2015.
First mentioned on 12th October.
even though Alice decided to do Cinderella instead when Lynda left her in charge for a couple of weeks while Lynda was in London tending her injured daughter. Finally cast by 18th November. Chaotic rehearsals, costumes only designed by 12th December and not actually finished until the dress rehearsal after an ultimatum from Lynda on 21st December. Thanks to Kenton playing the giddy goat I mean sorry the Dame, it was a great success in spite of Toby, as the Goose, going missing for one of the performances and a completely unrehearsed blow-in doing the part that night.
First mentioned on 15th November.
Because people were refusing to join in a Lynda-organised panto, Alan Franks decided to take it on, and as a result neglected the Infant School Nativity, normally his business to organise. He also decided to use a script written by a friend of his, instead of one offered by Lynda. He was unable to get anyone else to play the part of the Wicked Fairy, so Lynda was persuaded to do it, and was a nightmare to direct; she also spent much of her time changing her own and other people's lines. The first night (on December 28th) was chaotic, with Lynda ad-libbing and the rest of the cast in near-revolt. The following day they all ad-libbed as well, much to Lynda's annoyance. However, the review of the first night written by Tristram Hawkshaw said that it was a great success, so who cared?
The Canterbury Tales
First mentioned on 23rd September
A sort of hybrid: Lynda's version, The Canterbury Tales retold in doggerel by Lynda Snell and with topical references to local events; Radio 4 version, dramatised by Nick Warburton with "Archers" interpolations and broadcast on 29th December 2018 and 5th January 2019. Rehearsed in the freezing Brookfield barn which Lynda required David to bring up to her standards of cleanliness and hygiene, and which in spite of it having been rebuilt after it was burned down by Keith Horrobin in 2012 Lynda seemed to think was appropriately Mediaeval. Performed in the same place on the weekend of 29th December 2018. The Borchester Echo said it was a triumph, which is at least different from the "great success" verdict of previous years.
First mentioned on 29th September – as not being done by Lynda.
In the end all we got was Jim doing some horror readings in the attic at Lower Loxley.
First mentioned on 30th September when Lynda talked Freddie into doing a Christmas Show at Lower Loxley Hall.
The Ambridge Mystery Plays.
First mentioned on 3rd February, when Lynda thought a dramatic production at Corpus Christi would cheer the village up after the revelations about Philip Moss and the slaving; she found a translation, then discovered that Darrington planned to do the same one and went to try to frighten them off. Unfortunately the Darrington producer, Evangeline Loweminster, had written the translation and forbade Lynda to use it, so she had to write her own, starting in April. Next mentioned on 3rd November, and after the usual tribulations, alarums and excursions performed on Boxing Day (the Nativity) and 2nd January (the Passion). They were also performed by members of The Archers' cast on Radio 4 on the afternoons of those days. The Bishop watched them and wrote a fulsome letter about them to be published in the local paper, so clearly they were a great success.