Workers' Playtime


Named after an old BBC Radio programme that was intended as a morale booster for industrial labourers in the mid 20th century. “Workers’ Playtime” was broadcast at lunchtime, three times a week, live from a factory canteen somewhere in Britain. These photographs explore the history and significance of performance and entertainment in industrial communities across the UK. This tradition of working class revelry has its origins in the Music Halls of Victorian Britain and flourished in the Working Men’s Clubs of the 20th century as workers’ leisure time increased. The work is inspired by my Dad, who is an Elvis Presley impersonator on the Working Men’s Club circuit. I was always fascinated that him and his fellow club acts were often miners, steelworkers or factory employees who were using a talent for performance and theatricality to make an extra income in the evenings and at weekends. There was something wonderful about the transformation of these men and women out of their dull, grubby workwear and into their neatly pressed costumes for the stage.