So one of the longest productions in the Westminster Playhouse is finally closing after more than a year.
Yes Carry On Conservative Candidate is finally coming to a triumphal conclusion having played to largely indifferent houses over the last fifteen months. The cast has featured several household names but none lasted more than a few days until the arrival of Boris in the lead role just as the curtain was about to fall.
The production has outlasted its author, Francis Maude. He wrote the confused script having ignored all advise from those who knew their London audience and saw a serious piece of political drama turn into complete farce.
Sadly no Carry On production has succeeded without Sid James but Steve Norris this time has resolutely kept in the wings having signed a more lucrative engagement at the Jarvis travelling railway theatre.
Other leading men resisted all blandishments to appear in the production. Michael Portillo (Kenneth Williams), has made clear his days of serious political theatre are over. He now contents himself instead with a regular outing on a Thursday night when his hilarious catchphrase 'Ohhhh Diane' echoes around the BBC studio at Millbank. How we titter.
Lord John Stevens (Former star of “Carry on up the Yard”) who was approached no less than four times made it plain that he was not interested and anyway had earned £8 million from his guest appearances in such productions as “Death of a Princess” and the long running “Footballers bungs”. A suggestion that Greg 'Roland Rat' Dyke should appear in a blue and yellow costume was dropped after coach parties from the suburbs made it clear they would cancel their block bookings.
There was a supporting cast most of whom were recruited from the Borough Repertory Companies. Lurline Champagnie was plucked from the chorus line of Harrow Rep where she has worked away for twenty years for one last attempt at stardom.
Warwick Lightfoot, an intellectual economist found that his rather dry style barely set Kensington Music Hall alight and making him utterly unsuitable for a West End transfer.
Victoria Borwick another Kensington veteran and previous auditioner, and always the winner of the best make up and costumes award, found herself condemned to the never ending Conservative Coffee morning Circuit.
Andrew Boff found his comedic style was as out of date as a routine from Stan Boardman and anyway probably more suited to the touring production of Carry on Camping.
Several cast members from South East London have struggled to get repeat bookings over the years at Bromley Butlins never mind the Town Hall and a late cast addition said to be a very Senior Alderman of the City of London Corporation is rumoured to have misunderstood and thought he was putting his name forward to be Lord Mayor of London: sorry the jewellery budget for this production does not run to a diamond badge!
So as the script is written for the sequel provisionally entitled “Clash of the Titans”, the London political scene now has a production to grasp the popular imagination.
Johnson and Livingstone must be the only two UK Politicians whose surnames are superfluous. I suspect Box Office records will be broken on this one and that next May there may well be a new name in lights on London South bank as the younger performer replaces the old veteran whose act is now seen by many as rather passé. Never mind Ken you can join Messrs Blair and Prescott, those bill toppers of yesteryear, on the much more lucrative the after dinner circuit.