Amateur theatre group steal the show in BBC One documentary

L-R: Lovelaces Daniel Knight, Tom Morley, Becky Morris, Pat Richards, Jen White, James McBride and Linda Mayes.
L-R: Lovelaces Daniel Knight, Tom Morley, Becky Morris, Pat Richards, Jen White, James McBride and Linda Mayes.

A Hucknall theatre group will gain small screen stardom tonight in a BBC One show which is searching the country to find the best Bottoms.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is enjoying a momentous year as it marks the 400th anniversary of the revered playwright’s death.

Ashfield amateur actor Becky Morris was one of only two women to take the famous role of Nick Bottom in the RSC production.

Ashfield amateur actor Becky Morris was one of only two women to take the famous role of Nick Bottom in the RSC production.

But now the Lovelace Theatre Company, which is based at the John Godber Centre on Ogle Street, has stolen some of the limelight.

As part of its celebrations, the RSC is performing a special tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where each stop around the country sees the professional cast joined on stage by local amateur players.

Earlier this month it was Lovelace actors who took to the stage at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal. If you missed the opportunity to see it live, you can relive the story from start to finish in BBC One show The Best Bottoms in the Land.

The behind-the-scenes documentary follows the pressures and pitfalls of the project, from auditions to the opening night of each region’s performance.

BBC East Midlands features editor Sally Bowman said: “The Lovelace Theatre Group usually put on three productions a year in a converted church hall.

“They’ve had to work incredibly hard over the last few months but it’s all been worth it. To watch them step out onto the stage at the Theatre Royal you’d never guess this was an amateur group, and most of the audience seemed to agree.”

The show’s title is a reference to Nick Bottom, a comedic character in the play who is cursed with a donkey’s head.

Becky Morris, from Ashfield, was one of only two women to take the role on tour. She said: “It’s a gift of a part because the lines are so funny and there’s a lot of physical theatre.

Becky joined the group nine years ago, when she was running a sandwich shop and got talking to a customer, Lovelace actor Linda Mayes.

Becky said: “Had it not been for the sandwich shop I wouldn’t have met Linda, and perhaps wouldn’t be here now.

“I’ve been in plays where the audience has been no more than 19—the Theatre Royal is about 1,200. Stepping on stage was a mixture of massive excitement and terror.”

The programme is on BBC One at 7.30pm, Friday, May 20, and on iPlayer afterwards.