The Ministry of Entertainment was formed by two actors, Kate McNab and Joe Hobbs, to produce theatre based on oral histories from the era of the Second World War. They had met in 1997 during Bristol Old Vic’s premier run of Up the Feeder, Down the Mouth which was directed by Andy Hay and written by A.C.H. Smith about Bristol Docks from the stories of the dockers themselves. During the run Joe and Kate persuaded fellow performer Kit Morgan to be musical director for their new venture.
Radio Bristol ran a series of programmes following the progress of the planned first production Keep Smiling Through and many phoned in volunteering their stories and family anecdotes. Joe and Kate set about interviewing housewives, wardens, factory workers, G.I.s and those who were children at the time. ‘The Ministry’ wanted to reach as many who remembered the days of the Home Front as possible and so touring over three years was widespread over the West of England in a variety of venues, from theatres to village halls and back again to Bristol Old Vic where it sold out in 2002.
By this time Joe Hobbs had been replaced by Ross Harvey who had played Kate’s husband in Up The Feeder and it was time to collect more stories for the second planned production Doodlebugs and Bogeymen which was eventually written by Joe Hobbs and which Kate and Ross started touring in September 2002 with Kit Morgan remaining part of the team.
As one theatregoer put it “If it’s The Ministry of Entertainment you know it will be excellent theatre, great humour and lovely music”.
Once again we book into Mrs. G.’s Guesthouse, this time for an ‘out of season’ film noir-style thriller where Alfred Hitchcock meets Carry on Constable. Set to the music of the period and incorporating true stories of brushes with the law, the MoE will have you gripping the edge of your seat in suspense, hiding behind your settee in terror and rolling in the aisles with laughter.