MAPLINS is coming to Welwyn Garden City with the Barn Theatre putting on the stage adaptation of the classic holiday camp comedy.
“HI-DE-HI!” the walk-on comedian shouted at the audience and the hundred or so roared back with the correct response “Ho-de-Ho”.
This was at a U3A meeting held recently in Hatfield and it is some 30 years after the last episode of the BBC comedy had stopped amusing its huge number of watchers.
What was Hi-de-Hi’s appeal? Like any good comedy, it had a mixture of laughs and moments of pathos.
The exploits of Gladys Pugh, who was played by former Welwyn Hatfield resident Ruth Madoc, Peggy Ollerenshaw, Jeffrey Fairbrother, Ted Bovis, Spike Dixon and the rest of the Maplins holiday camp crew attracted 13 million from the youngest to the oldest, truly a family show.
Writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft, who also penned Dad’s Army, based it on their own experiences.
Perry was a Redcoat at Butlins after being de-mobbed from the army.
Croft produced shows for holiday camps, so they knew their subject very well, giving it an authentic feel.
Their formative years were in the 40s and 50s and their work characteristically has an aura of nostalgia for the time when England was at its greatest.
Their Dad’s Army and It Ain’t Half Hot Mum humour is rooted in an era when people were working together for the common good – not the selfish, me-first individualism of the present.
With such a background, it isn’t surprising that there’s a stage adaptation of the sitcom.
Written by Paul Carpenter and Ian Gower, this play is being produced by the Barn Theatre, in WGC, later this month.
Based on the popular TV series, you can watch the hilarious holiday camp antics at Maplins, in the fictional seaside town of Crimpton-on-Sea, at the Handside Lane theatre from Friday, June 22 to Saturday, June 30.
Set in the 1950s, the play begins at the start of a new season. The founder, Joe Maplin, announces that he is setting up a camp in the Bahamas and needs one of his women Yellowcoats – not the Redcoats of Butlins – to go to work there.
The annual Miss Yellowcoat competition will decide who is to go.
From then on the plot evolves with twists and turns, realistic rivalry between the two front-runners, Sylvia and Gladys, and camp cleaner Peggy aiming for the vacancy of the winner of the contest.
Comic Ted, meanwhile, is forced to employ numerous money-making schemes when his ex-wife turns up at the camp with a bailiff in tow.
Meanwhile, dance couple Yvonne and Barry Stuart-Hargreaves send the rumour mill into overdrive when they overhear Gladys escorting Jeffrey into his chalet late one night.
Director Darren Barsby said: “What better way to spend an evening than laughing out loud at live theatre?
“Hi-de-Hi! may not tick the box for high-brow intellectual humour, but you should come and see the show, it’s different to all the others.”
Tickets cost £10 (£7 for members on the first Friday) and are available from the Barn Theatre box office on 01707 324300 or online at www.barntheatre.co.uk – click on the link above right.
Performances are nightly at 8pm and there is also a matinee at 2.30pm on the second Saturday.