Skip to main content

Monday 9 November 2015

Solent lecturer films BBC documentary

A Southampton Solent University lecturer and documentary-maker has directed one of a series of 11 regional programmes that will feature simultaneously on BBC One next week, in a bid to save local theatre.

Kate O’Driscoll directed the southern regional programme, which tells the story of how Sheila Hancock started her career on the stage, and why she supports local theatres like the Kings Theatre and New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth.


“During her career, Sheila has played every theatre in the country and she still classes the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth as the most beautiful,” says documentary-maker and lecturer Kate.

Both theatres have distinguished histories and have had hundreds of famous names tread their boards including Laurel and Hardy, Lillie Langtry and Peter Sellers – who appeared as a baby when his parents performed in Vaudeville.

The programme follows the two Portsmouth theatres over six months. As well as featuring the recent re-opening of the multimillion-pound refurbishment at New Theatre Royal, it will also chart the economic challenges being faced by Kings Theatre.


“As well as the actors that perform there, I wanted it to highlight the commitment and dedication of the local volunteers and supporters who help keep the theatres running,” says Kate, whose documentary credits include Who Do You Think You Are? and Family Century.

The programme champions the army of volunteers at The Kings, who help out with everything – from cleaning, and decorating to the general upkeep.

“The support for theatres like The Kings is on a very local level, and it’s great to people are still investing in the arts, in time and their money.” says Kate.

“I wanted to show how hard regional theatres work to survive and how important their role is in the local community and economy,” says Kate. “I’m really proud of the programme and hope that it inspires people to use their local theatres more.”

Viewers will be able to find out more about their region’s theatres by watching On Stageon BBC One at 7.30pm on Monday 9 November. The full series is also available to view on iPlayer.

For further information, contact the Press Office on 023 8201 3049 or

Kate O’Driscoll has been a documentary film-maker for 20 years, starting in London as a junior researcher at TwentyTwentyTV. She has worked on documentaries for all the major channels, including An Inspector Calls, Who Do You Think You Are? Combat Chefs, and produced the Family Century series for Channel 4. She also teaches TV production at Southampton Solent University.