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Backstairs Billy Duke of York’s Theatre Tickets

Tickets from £30.00

Backstairs Billy at the Duke of York’s Theatre from Friday 27th October 2023 to Saturday 27th January 2024.

Set in 1979, when strikes are bringing the country to its knees and Britain is about to seismically change under Margaret Thatcher, it is business as usual for the Queen Mother and her loyal servant Billy inside Clarence House. Receptions are in full swing and the champagne is flowing as the two worlds start to collide with dizzying consequences.

Michael Grandage Company presents Marcelo Dos Santos’ new comedy Backstairs Billy which looks at a pivotal moment in the 50 year relationship between the Queen Mother and her loyal servant William “Billy” Tallon.
Michael Grandage directs Penelope Wilton as the Queen Mother and Luke Evans as Billy, with further casting to be announced shortly.

Luke Evans - credit Tim Palen
Luke Evans – credit Tim Palen.

Set in 1979, when strikes are bringing the country to its knees and Britain is about to seismically change under Margaret Thatcher, it is business as usual for the Queen Mother and Billy inside Clarence House. Receptions are in full swing and the champagne is flowing as the two worlds start to collide with dizzying consequences.

MGC today announces the world première of Marcelo Dos Santos’ new play Backstairs Billy which looks at a pivotal moment in the 50 year relationship between the Queen Mother and her loyal servant William “Billy” Tallon. Michael Grandage directs Penelope Wilton as the Queen Mother and Luke Evans as Billy, with further casting to be announced shortly. The production opens at the Duke of York’s Theatre on 7 November, with previews from 27 October, and runs until 27 January. Public booking for the production opens today.

In the company’s continued commitment to providing access for all in the West End, there will be £10 tickets available at every performance across the run. For further information, and to register for the initiative: www.michaelgrandagecompany.com. Since MGC’s creation in 2011 the company has led the way in defining a cheaper seat policy across the West End, prioritising accessibility, and to enable as wide and diverse audience as possible to experience West End Theatre.

Michael Grandage said today “It is always a great moment to celebrate the birth of a new comedy in the West End and particularly from an important new voice such as Marcelo Dos Santos. I am thrilled to be working again with Penelope Wilton and Luke Evans alongside a cast of twelve other actors as we bring an exciting new play to the stage this autumn and over the Christmas period ahead.

The production reunites Grandage with Wilton – they previously collaborated on productions of The Chalk Garden, John Gabriel Borkman and Hamlet; and with Evans who performed at the Donmar twice under Grandage’s Artistic directorship, in Small Change and Piaf. Also, Marcelo Dos Santos was an MGCfutures Bursary recipient from 2019 – a charity established by Grandage to support theatre makers across all aspects of the industry. Following their introduction via the bursary programme, MGC commissioned Dos Santos to write Backstairs Billy.

Director: Michael Grandage; Set Designer: Christopher Oram; Costume Designers: Christopher Oram and Tom Rand; Lighting Designer: Ryan Day; Music and Sound designer: Adam Cork; Wigs, Hair & Makeup Designer: Carole Hancock; Casting Director: Jacob Sparrow; Associate Director: Sophie Drake; Costume Supervisor: Mary Charlton.

Book tickets for Backstairs Billy at the Duke of York’s Theatre from Friday 27th October 2023 to Saturday 27th January 2024.

PERFORMANCES:
Mon – Sat at 19:30
Wed – Sat at 14:30

Age guidance 14+

View All Shows at Duke of York’s Theatre
104 St Martin’s Ln, London WC2N 4BG

William Tallon began his career in the Royal Household as a junior assistant during Easter Court at Windsor in 1951, when he was just 15 years old. Determined to secure a position with the Household, he had been writing letters requesting employment for the previous five years. Later on, he found a position at Buckingham Palace. In 1953-1954, Tallon was slated to accompany Queen Elizabeth II on her Commonwealth tour, but he was instead required to fulfill his National Service obligations with the RAF. However, he seized the opportunity to ask Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother if he could join the staff at her residence, Clarence House. She graciously accepted his request, and Tallon remained in her service until her passing.

In 1978, Tallon succeeded Walter Taylor as Steward and Page of the Backstairs, earning the affectionate nickname “Backstairs Billy” from the tabloids. He faithfully attended to his duties from early morning until the Queen Mother retired for the night. He had the privilege of entering her private rooms without prior announcement, and he took charge of procuring the Christmas presents she generously bestowed upon others.

Reginald Wilcock, Tallon’s partner for more than three decades, began his career as a footman at Buckingham Palace in 1954. From 1957 to 1959, Wilcock served as a valet to the Duke of Windsor in Paris, before joining the staff at Clarence House in 1960 as a footman. He eventually held the positions of House Deputy Steward and the Queen Mother’s Page of the Presence, starting in 1978. On the morning of the Queen Mother’s 100th birthday, August 4, 2000, Wilcock had the honor of serving her tea in her room. However, tragedy struck that night when Tallon learned that Wilcock was gravely ill. Sadly, Wilcock passed away a week later on August 11, 2000, at the age of 66. Tallon arranged a dignified funeral for him at the Queen’s Chapel in Marlborough House.

Following Wilcock’s death, Tallon reportedly experienced bouts of depression. He felt somewhat marginalized as the Queen Mother began to rely on a younger team of staff for her nursing care. Nevertheless, when she passed away in 2002 at the remarkable age of 101, Tallon was utterly devastated. Subsequently, he left Clarence House, where he had resided in the Lodge house, and settled in a ground-floor flat with a garden in Kennington, located in southeast London. Tragically, on November 23, 2007, at the age of 72, Tallon succumbed to liver failure. His funeral service took place at the Queen’s Chapel in St James’s Palace and featured readings by Sir Derek Jacobi and Patricia Routledge.

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