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Saturday July 21st 2018

The Entertainer| 1960

The Entertainer filming location: Morecambe Antiques & Collectables, Morecambe, Lancashire
The Entertainer location: the old Alhambra Theatre: Morecambe Antiques & Collectables, Morecambe, Lancashire | Photograph: Wikimedia / Stephen Armstrong

Laurence Olivier recreates his Royal Court stage success as failed seaside comedian Archie Rice in Tony Richardson's version of John Osborne's bilious state-of-the-nation play.

It was filmed in the blowsy and rather faded northern seaside resort of Morecambe, on the Lancashire coast, the holiday escape for workers of the industrial north.

The music hall was Morecambe's old Alhambra Theatre, on the resort's seafront. It's long since closed and the building now houses Morecambe Antiques & Collectables [sic]. The West End Pier, which stood opposite the theatre, suffered severe storm damage in 1977 and was demolished shortly after.

Location filming was still something of a novelty and, as with many Northern-set films of the period, scenes were shot down south. The railway station is the old Liverpool Street Station in London, dark and dirty as it still was 20 years later when it featured in David Lynch's The Elephant Man. The station has since had a bright makeover as you can see in Mission: Impossible.

The Entertainer filming location: The Salisbury, St Martin's Lane, London WC2
The Entertainer location: Archie Rice travels to London to set up a deal: The Salisbury, St Martin's Lane, London WC2

The London pub into which Archie pops on his trip south is The Salisbury, 90 St Martin’s Lane, WC2 , at the time one of London’s most famously theatrical gay bars. With its dazzling original etched glass, gleaming brass and hand-carved mahogany, the photogenic bar appeared (as a gay bar) in Basil Dearden’s groundbreaking Victim in 1960, with Dirk Bogarde, and as Maggie Smith's digs in George Cukor's 1972 film of Graham Greene's Travels With My Aunt. With the gay community having moved on to Old Compton Street in Soho and actors finding more exclusive haunts to avoid the paparazzi, it's nowadays likely to be full of theatregoers and tourists, but remains a splendid reminder of what a grand old English pub used to be.