Tea With the Old Queen

Graham Woolnough

Graham Woolnough Productions

C Aquila

From 02 August 2012 to 27 August 2012

Rating: *****

Review by Robin Strapp

With all the royal celebrations taking place this year, Ian Stark deliciously portrays ‘Back Stairs Billy’ in Tea with the Old Queen where, as Head of Household of her Majesty the Queen Mother, he dishes the dirt on his 40 years of service and it is a charming, captivating feast of gossip and intrigue delivered with sincerity and high camp from his diaries.

There is also a personal story of his love of his life, Reg, who was also in service and their relationship that had a tragic ending.

There are many splendid stories revealed including her Majesty’s flying exploits, the Christmas pantomimes where Billy plays the Dame.

We learn about the visit of the Chinese Ambassador, Mr Wu, and sending out for a Chinese takeaway and the hatred of the Blairs, in particular Cherie when a silver salt-shaker went missing after their visit.

Even Princess Margaret’s excessive smoking and drinking causes havoc in the non-smoking environment of the palaces.

With the addition of cardboard cutouts of the corgis and a gold-plated television screen that sets the scene for each story, director Graham Woolnough has created a touching and delightful production and Ian Stark should become a national treasure.

This is one invitation to tea you should certainly accept.