Alan Ayckbourn Encyclopaedia: B

Backnumbers: One of the Grey Plays (produced but unpublished), Backnumbers was premiered in 1983 as a lunchtime entertainment at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in The Round, Scarborough. The two revues (Backnumbers 1-10 & 11-20) comprise songs drawn from the prior musical collaborations between Alan Ayckbourn and composer Paul Todd.

Barker, Ronnie: Famed British television comedian. Ronnie Barker (1929 - 2005) played Lord Slingsby-Craddock in the West End premiere of Mr Whatnot before commissioning Alan Ayckbourn - writing under the pseudonym Peter Caulfield - to write sketches for his television show Hark At Barker; the sketches involving a character called Lord Rustless, loosely based on the Mr Whatnot character.

Barnstairs Syndrome: An unused title and concept for the play which eventually became Life Of Riley.

Bartholomew, Tony: A professional photographer closely associated with Alan Ayckbourn's work in Scarborough. Tony Bartholomew's portraits of Alan Ayckbourn are used extensively in print media and he has been responsible for production shots of many of Alan Ayckbourn's plays at the Stephen Joseph Theatre between 1999 and the present day.

'Bath' Play: An unused concept for a play set in a bathroom mentioned by Alan Ayckbourn in interviews and partly inspired by the 1970 film Lovers And Other Strangers.

BBC: Between 1965 and 1970, Alan Ayckbourn also worked as a radio drama producer for BBC Radio Leeds. The British Broadcasting Corporation has adapted a number of Alan Ayckbourn's plays for television and radio.

Bedroom Farce: Alan Ayckbourn's 19th play premiered at The Library Theatre, Scarborough, on 16 June 1975 and opened at the National Theatre, London, on 16 March 1977. It was Alan Ayckbourn's first production at the National and the first time he directed the London premiere of one of his own plays. The play features three bedrooms on a composite set with one highly strung couple wreaking havoc in the bedrooms of three other couples. It is also worth emphasising Bedroom Farce is not actually a farce, Alan Ayckbourn just liked the title.

Bedroom Farce (concept): Early notes for Bedroom Farce show the play was conceived for four couples and four bedrooms rather than the four couples and three bedrooms of the final play.

Bedroom Farce (radio): The play was adapted for radio by Jarvis & Ayres Productions for BBC Radio 4 and broadcast in two parts on BBC Radio 4 over the New Year's weekend 2022 / 2023, directed by Martin Jarvis.

Bedroom Farce (television): The play was adapted for television by Granada Television and first broadcast on 28 September 1980 on ITV. It was directed by Christopher Morahan based on the National Theatre production and featured many of the original company.

Bedside Manners: An unproduced and unpublished one act play featuring a couple in bed, verbalising their internal thoughts. It bears certain similarities to Ayckbourn's Countdown. The play is likely to have been written post Countdown as the script is attributed to Alan Ayckbourn rather than Roland Allen (Alan used the Allen pseudonym until 1961). It is held in the Ayckbourn Archive at the University Of York and is not available for production.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay's musical which is featured predominantly in Alan Ayckbourn's A Chorus Of Disapproval. The latter mirrors and counter-points the action of the former, which is being produced by Pendon Light Amateur Operatic Society.

Better Off Dead: Alan Ayckbourn's 82nd play, written in 2017, premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on 11 September 2018. The play centres on a writer who reads his own obituary and whose wife is losing memory of who he is, while he appears to be losing literal control of the characters in his latest book.

Between The Lines: One of the Grey Plays (produced but unpublished), Between The Lines is a revue by composer Paul Todd featuring songs created by him and Alan Ayckbourn, tied into a loose love-triangle narrative. Other than his songs being included in the show, Alan Ayckbourn played no part in producing or writing this show with the book being written by Todd.

Between Mouthfuls (Confusions): One of the five one-act plays which comprise Confusions. A waiter moves between tables with conversations fading in and out of hearing. The play was developed from a similar idea Alan wrote for television, Service Not Included.

Billington, Michael: Noted British theatre critic and author. A long-time supporter of Alan Ayckbourn's work, he also wrote the book Modern Dramatists: Alan Ayckbourn.

Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present: Alan Ayckbourn's 83rd play, written in 2018, premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, on 10 September 2019. It is a play told in reverse starting with Micky's 80th birthday party and ending at his daughter's 18th birthday party. It centres on Micky's son, Adrian, and his unlikely reputation as a sexual Lothario. As the plot goes back through several 'legendary' encounters, the truth is not quite what it appears.

'Blizzard' play: Inspired by Alain Resnais's film adaptation of Private Fears In Public Places, Alan Ayckbourn noted in 2006 he had thought about having a blizzard on stage for his next play. The idea was abandoned and never used.

Board Game: An unpublished one act play featuring characters drawn from several popular board games including Monopoly and Cluedo. Its providence is unknown although it is likely it was written during the early 1960s. The only public performance was in June 2012 at the University Of York, directed by Tom Wright. It is held in the Ayckbourn Archive at the University Of York and is not available for production.

The Bob Watson Archive: The Stephen Joseph Theatre's archive which holds material on Alan Ayckbourn, predominantly concentrated on the world premieres and Scarborough revivals of his plays. The archive was maintained by Bob Watson (1996 to 2004) and Simon Murgatroyd (2004 to 2022).

Boden, Ken: The general manager of the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round for many years. Ken Boden (1920 - 1991) was a keen local amateur theatrical who became involved with the Library Theatre, Scarborough, when Stephen Joseph founded the company in 1955. Over time he became more involved and was largely responsible for keeping the theatre alive when Stephen Joseph planned to close it in 1965. He took responsibility for over-seeing the theatre until Alan Ayckbourn became Artistic Director in 1972.

Body Language (1990): Alan Ayckbourn's 39th play premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, on 21 May 1990. Set in a private clinic it tackles issues and perceptions of the body when a glamour model and obese journalist are involved in a helicopter accident and find their heads re-attached to the wrong bodies.

Body Language (1999): Alan Ayckbourn had noted he felt the original production was too long and, as a result, revised and shortened the play which was premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on 24 August 1999. The plot was unaltered.

Books: There are surprisingly few books written about Alan Ayckbourn with the notable ones being the playwrights own The Crafty Art Of Playmaking and Paul Allen's biography Grinning At The Edge and the same author's A Pocket Guide To Alan Ayckbourn's Plays. Other noteworthy books include Michael Holt's Writers And Their Work: Alan Ayckbourn, Michael Billington's Modern Dramatists: Alan Ayckbourn; Ian Watson's Conversations With Ayckbourn; Malcolm Page's File On Ayckbourn, Albert E Kalson's Laughter In The Dark, Albert Reiner Glaap's A Guided Tour Through Ayckbourn Country and Simon Murgatroyd's Unseen Ayckbourn.

Borthwick Institute for Archives: The Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York holds the Ayckbourn Archive, which it acquired in 2011 for the nation. See also Ayckbourn Archive.

Boy Meets Girl (Revue): A musical revue by Alan Ayckbourn and Paul Todd premiered in the Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round, Scarborough, on 25 May 1985. The revue is part of a duology with Girl Meets Boy and is set in a restaurant offering a wry look at relationships through song.

The Boy Who Fell Into A Book: Alan Ayckbourn's 53rd play premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on 4 December 1998. It coincided with the National Year Of Reading and sees young Kevin trapped in the pages of his favourite books, pursued by the villainous Green Shark with only his wits and his literary hero Rockfist Slim to help him escape.

The Boy Who Fell Into A Book (musical): Alan Ayckbourn's 53rd play was adapted into a musical with book and lyrics by Paul James and music by Cathy Shostak and Eric Angus; Alan Ayckbourn was not involved in the adaptation but did direct the world premiere production at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, during July 2014.

Bradley, Alfred: Senior and much respected producer at the BBC who employed and mentored Alan Ayckbourn when he joined the BBC in 1964; he was renowned for discovering and encouraged new writing talent. Alan Bradley (1925 - 1991) was also instrumental in helping to keep the Library Theatre, Scarborough, running following Stephen Joseph's death in 1967.

Bridge, Peter: Theatre impresario and producer. Peter Bridge (1925 - 1982) was Alan Ayckbourn's first London producer and was responsible for bringing Mr Whatnot (which flopped) and the stellar successes of Relatively Speaking and How The Other Half Loves to the West End.

A Brief History of Plays: To mark his 60th anniversary with the Stephen Joseph Theatre in 2017, Alan Ayckbourn hosted two Gala events on 10 & 17 September 2017 looking at the previous 60 years through reminiscences, anecdotes and extracts from many of his plays performed by members of his current and previous acting companies.

A Brief History Of Women: Alan Ayckbourn's 81st play premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on 5 September 2017. Told in four parts over 60 years, it follows the life of the unexceptional man, Anthony Spates, and the extraordinary women he meets throughout his life and the house - which goes through changes of its own - which witnesses it all.

British Library: The British Library, London, holds one of the most significant collections of archival material relating to Alan Ayckbourn. This includes original copies of all his early plays as well as The Ramsay Archive; the archive of the famed literary agent Margaret 'Peggy' Ramsay which contains correspondence between Alan and his agent.

Brits Off Broadway: An annual Off-Broadway festival celebrating British Theatre based at the 59E59 Theatres, New York. Alan Ayckbourn has taken the Stephen Joseph company there several times with his productions of Private Fears In Public Places (2005); Intimate Exchanges (2007); My Wonderful Day (2009); Neighbourhood Watch (2011); Arrivals & Departures (2014); Time Of My Life (2014); Farcicals (2014); Hero's Welcome (2016); Confusions (2016) and A Brief History of Women (2018).

Broadway: Although Alan Ayckbourn has not enjoyed the same level of success on Broadway as in London's West End, he has still had a number of successful productions staged in New York's theatrical heartland. These include: How The Other Half Loves, Absurd Person Singular, The Norman Conquests, Bedroom Farce, Taking Steps, A Small Family Business and By Jeeves. In 1976, the sign at Broadway and 45th Street was changed to Ayckbourn Alley for the day to mark his success.

Broadway, Jeeves?: A book b y the actor Martin Jarvis chronicling his experiences with the Broadway production of Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical By Jeeves. It was first published by Methuen during 2003 and also released as an audio book narrated by Martin Jarvis.

By Jeeves: Unhappy with his and Andrew Lloyd Webber's original collaboration on Jeeves - a notorious West End flop which By Jeeves should not be confused with - Alan Ayckbourn returned to the musical in 1995 to explore it as a possibility to open the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. The musical, adapted from the Jeeves novels by P.G.Wodehouse, was significantly revised into a simpler and leaner piece of musical theatre which achieved widespread acclaim and popularity and was nominated for an Olivier for Best Musical. It opened at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, on 1 May 1996 before transferring to the Duke Of York's Theatre, London, on 2 July 1996.

By Jeeves (original cast recording): The original recording of By Jeeves took place live over two nights at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in May 1996. It was mixed on-site at a mobile studio and a limited edition CD was rushed out for sale during the run of the musical. It is the rarest of the By Jeeves CDs and is the only CD to feature the song Deadlier Than The Male.

By Jeeves (original cast recording): When By Jeeves transferred to London, a second original cast recording was produced on CD in 1996. This features Love's Maze and several other alterations to the original recording. An import version of this album was also produced in America in 1997.

By Jeeves (original cast recording): The Broadway version of By Jeeves also had an original cast recording which was produced in 2001 featuring the Broadway cast and, again, several changes of music from the London original cast recording.

By Jeeves (television): The play was adapted for television by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation and released on DVD in 2001. The production was directed by Alan Ayckbourn and Nick Morris and featured most of the Broadway cast.

By Jeeves (radio): The play was adapted for television by the BBC and first broadcast on 14 December 1996 on BBC Radio 2. It was directed by Kate Young, adapted by Alan Ayckbourn with a bridging narrative and featured the original production cast.

By Jeeves (variations): By Jeeves was originally work-shopped in London on 16 September 1995. Between then and its Broadway premiere in 2001, the score underwent a number of changes in contents and song-titles. Originally the songs were: Banjo Boy, Code Of The Woosters, Travel Hopefully, That Could Have Been Us, Female Of The Species, The Hallo Song, By Jeeves, When Love Arrives, Scylla And Charybis And The Deep Blue Sea, Half A Moment, It's a Pig, Banjo Boy reprise, The Wizard Rainbow Finale. For the world premiere Scylla And Charybis was replaced by What Have You Got To Say, Jeeves! and That Could Have Been Us became That Was Nearly Us with Female Of The Species becoming Deadlier Than The Male. During the original run, Love's Maze replaced Deadlier Than The Male. At its London transfer A False Start replaced Banjo Boy and Code Of The Woosters was replaced by Wooster Will Entertain You, which was replaced by Never Fear when the play opened in New York.

Original research for the The Alan Ayckbourn Encyclopaedia section is by Simon Murgatroyd and copyright of the author.