Mr Whatnot: Archive

The Archive highlights significant documents relating to Mr Whatnot which are held in Archive by either Alan Ayckbourn, the Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York or The Bob Watson Archive at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. All material is copyright protected and should not be reproduced.

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An intriguing note produced for the dress rehearsal of the London transfer of Alan Ayckbourn’s Mr Whatnot; his first play to be produced in the West End. The inclusion of 60 back-projections is one of the over-complications added to the production, which Alan felt spoilt the play. The final paragraph also suggests the producer, Peter Bridge, was nervous about the play; fears that would be realised as the play closed after just two weeks. (Held in the Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York)

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The famed comedian and actor Ronnie Barker’s first night note to Alan Ayckbourn for the London premiere of Alan Ayckbourn’s Mr Whatnot. (Held in the Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York)

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A flyer for the London premiere of Alan Ayckbourn’s Mr Whatnot focusing on the stars of the production. The imperative ‘you will enjoy’ seems to have largely been lost on the critics which mauled the play in the national media. Of particular note is the limited initial run of just three weeks (although even that was not managed as the show closed on 22 August), which presumably would have been extended had the production been successful. (Held in the Ayckbourn Archive at the University of York)

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(Pictured left): A flyer for the Leeds Art Theatre’s amateur production of Mr Whatnot from 1968. This is an interesting production as it marks one of only two occasions Alan Ayckbourn has directed an amateur production of his own plays (both productions being with Leeds Art Theatre whilst Alan was working as a Radio Drama Producer for the BBC in Leeds). Given the success of Relatively Speaking in the West End the previous year, this was a particular coup for the company and included an aspiring young actor named Bob Peck in the cast; he would, of course, go onto far greater things. (Copyright: Leeds Art Theatre)

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