In 1958 Bernard Delfont and his partner Charles Forte ripped out the interior of the London Hippodrome theatre next to Leicester Square on the Charing Cross Road. Originally built in 1900 and designed by Frank Matcham, they converted the theatre into a large restaurant/nightclub they called “The Talk of the Town”. The theatre producer and director Robert Nesbitt and the architect George Pine hoped to create a sort of restaurant intimacy combined with a theatre experience and the gallery was closed off with a false ceiling and the dress circle became a dining area with two staircases leading down to a dance floor and the main part of the restaurant. There were 800 covers and the price in 1958 for a three course dinner and two shows was just two guineas.
The first show at the Talk of the Town began at 9.00pm and was a dance spectacular in the style of the Folies Bergère and then at 11.00pm came the star of the show. On the opening night Eartha Kitt opened the nightspot appearing to the audience by rising up from beneath the stage in a vintage Rolls Royce.
The Talk of the Town closed in 1982 because, according to Bernard Delfont, the lease was up for renewal and the Cranbourn Estate wanted to increase the rent from £15,000 a year to around £200,000. What was once a two guinea ticket in 1958 had now become £24 for just one show. The rent increases would mean they’d have to charge £50 for tickets which at the time was prohibitive. The Talk of the Town, after twenty-four years, was forced to close.
Would you like to support Flashbak?
Please consider making a donation to our site. We don't want to rely on ads to bring you the best of visual culture. You can also support us by signing up to our Mailing List. And you can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For great art and culture delivered to your door, visit our shop.