Our History

Saturday 9 July 2022 | Eventim Apollo Theatre, London

Our History

It is often said that a Gang Show is playing somewhere in the world every night of the year. But how did this worldwide annual tradition come about ninety years ago?

The Gang’s All Here

The London Gang Show made its debut in 1932, the brainchild of Ralph Reader, already well known in the professional theatre as a leading director and performer with shows on both Broadway and in the West End.

Ralph Reader CBE

That 1932 production called ‘The Gang’s All Here’ ran for three nights at London's Scala Theatre and was an immediate success. In each succeeding year, even when the Show moved to larger theatres, seats were invariably sold out as it went from success to success.

Ralph Reader was the driving force behind these initial shows. He not only produced the shows, he also wrote over three hundred sketches and around four hundred songs. The most celebrated, 'Crest of a Wave' becoming the signature tune for Gang Shows around the world.

By Royal Command

The London Gang Show itself achieved the honour of being the first amateur company to appear in a Royal Command Performance in 1937. There were subsequent appearances in 1957 and 1964 and then in 1972, the Queen and Prince Philip attended the 40th Anniversary Gang Show.

The Red Scarf

To identify members of the ”Gang” a Red Scarf with the lettering GS was designed to be worn by members who had taken part in a Gang Show. These days the Red Scarf is worn by Gang Shows across the UK and beyond.

What’s more there is whole ‘Gang’ of stars from stage and screen who got their first taste of the spotlight while earning their Red Scarves. Peter Sellers, Dick Emery, Tony Hancock, Brian Johnson of AC/DC fame, Roger Rees from Cheers and The West Wing, Richard Hammond, Paul Cattermole from S Club 7 and West End and X Factor star Lucie Jones all began their road to success as Scouts on stage.  What’s more there are even more who are now working professionally in the arts, both as performers and technicians due to those first steps in a local Gang Show.

From strength to strength

London Gang Show was by no means the only Gang Show. Scouts in all major towns and cities in the UK produced their own versions with local talent. Gang Show’s spread across the UK from Plymouth to Norwich and Basingstoke to Aberdeen and many towns and cities in between and are thriving today.

Nor did it end there. Gang Shows spread across the world. Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Mauritius, New Zealand and the United States are performing Gang Shows.

And now ninety years on, the movement is still going strong. While the content has changed to keep up with tastes and trends, the format remains – high quality entertainment, in song, dance and comedy and the ethos remains the same – to showcase the amazing talents of Scouts from across the country.