For decades, the cult of the personality has been a guiding force for many theatre producers, particularly those trying to fill large venues.

When a new production is announced, the first question for many punters is who the stars are going to be. Indeed, to sell the vast majority of stage shows in the West End or on Broadway, it is necessary to have one or two big-name TV or film stars.

The alternative route relies on a different kind of popularity, where a favourite film, pop group or star’s back catalogue or novel is adapted for the stage. Even then, a star name is often added to the mix to increase the chance of commercial success.

Last weekend’s Olivier Awards hints that star casting is also now the recipe for taking home the big prizes. It may be entirely coincidental, but the two big winners on the night are TV stars with cult status. That is not to suggest that Paul Mescal for A Streetcar Name Desire and Jodie Comer for Prima Facie do not fully deserve their Best Actor and Best Actress awards. However, some may wonder whether the hype that reached fever pitch before either had even made it on to a stage in any way influenced the judging panels.

In the past, awards were much more commonly handed to seasoned and experienced professionals after years or decades of hard work. Reading Oliver Ford Davies’s recent autobiography, it was touching to discover that, after over quarter of a century of working almost invisibly, he finally took the top prize for Racing Demon at the age of 50, still virtually unknown to the man in the street and greatly to his own surprise.

Both of this year’s winning performers were in their 20s and, while Mescal attended drama school and served a brief but solid apprenticeship on stage, his female counterpart was completely fresh to the discipline.

Many will have been cheered by the statement in Jodie Comer’s speech of thanks during which she said, “one thing I would like to say to any kids who haven’t been to drama school, who can’t afford to go to drama school, who have been rejected from drama school, don’t let anyone tell you that it isn’t possible.

“It might take the stars to align and you to be met with generous, kind, patient people, but it is possible.”

The actress has enjoyed a revelatory rise to stage stardom, given that this was her West End debut and (almost?) all of her previous acting experience had been on screen. She is now heading off to Broadway, presumably as a hot tip for a Tony.

You can’t imagine that those in charge at RADA or Central would be too chuffed to hear all of their efforts effectively being denigrated by someone who has just been recognised as the best actress in the country. Similarly, anyone who has taken on life-long debt and driven themselves into the ground to learn the rudimentary skills necessary to work on stage might now be wondering why they bothered.

In the past, you would also have expected at least a handful of nominations and frequently top prizes to go to those taking major roles in Shakespeare. Looking through the list of awards, there was only a single nomination for any Shakespearean production and that went to Rose Ayling-Ellis for her supporting role in As You like It. She just happens to be best known as a soap opera and reality TV practitioner, which won’t have done any harm.

West End theatre managers will almost certainly be delighted by awards to high-profile stars, since this inevitably increases the amount of publicity not only for their shows but for the medium more widely.

How those who spend most of their working lives in the theatre, occasionally getting cast in minor TV roles, which indisputably helps to make ends meet, will feel about a new normal in which some might conclude that personality is more important than solid technique could be a matter for serious debate, while they hang around waiting for auditions or sit in the wings or green room.

It will be fascinating to see whether these trends continue and, to all intents and purposes, highly trained actors can give up hope of winning big prizes as soon as they reach their 30s.