A new documentary on the life of Hattie Jacques will air on Saturday 17th September 2022, Channel 5 at 9pm (GMT).
This programme will look back at how The Players' Theatre was the launch pad for Hattie's career; it is where she made her first stage debut, developed her persona, formed many acting partnerships, met her lover Major Charles Kearney and her future husband John Le Mesurier.
During the Second World War nearly all London theatre closed but not The Players! The Players moved from its Covent Garden location to the basement premises at No. 30 Albermarle Street. It is here where Hattie's brother, Robin, was working as a life operator and cloakroom attendant. he introduced Hattie to The Players while she was working as a Voluntary Aid Detachment Nurse. Hattie fell in love with The Players and would regularly attend the 'Late Joys' as well as help out backstage.
It was in the summer of 1944, at the age of 22, that Hattie had her first audition with Leonard Sachs. She sang 'Call round any old time' (a song originally sung by Music Hall performer Victoria Monks) and 'A little of what you fancy does you good' (a song popularised by Marie Lloyd). She sang in the style of Marie Lloyd which impressed Sachs as he was on the lookout for just the right person to perform in the style of Marie Lloyd. He hired her on the spot. That was a Thursday afternoon. The following Monday night Hattie was on the bill at The Players' Theatre!
She soon became known as 'The Queen of The Players' or 'Queen of The Joys'.
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