Lord Attenborough’s acting debut was in Palmers Green

Lord Attenborough’s acting debut

Programme cover for Ah! Wilderness

Programme list for Ah! Wilderness

First published in Readers' letters

I was very sad to hear of the death of Lord Richard Attenborough on Sunday, August 24.

Readers may be interested to learn that Richard made his professional acting debut at the Intimate Theatre in Palmers Green in 1941. In September 1941, the theatre wanted an actor to play the part of a 15-year-old boy in the drama Ah! Wilderness by Eugene O’Neill, so they contacted RADA who sent one of their students to play the role. That student was Richard Attenborough.

The critic for the Palmers Green & Southgate Gazette reviewed the play in their October 3, 1941 edition and said: “Richard is played by Richard Attenborough, whom the audience took to their hearts at once... he contributed a crystal clear, sound performance.”

He returned to the theatre for two further plays in December 1941 and his future wife Sheila Sim was a regular member of the Intimate repertory company in 1942 and 1943.

I wrote a book about the Intimate Theatre called Intimate Memories, which was published in 2006 and, whilst researching the venue’s history, I had the pleasure of chatting to Lady Attenborough about her time at the Intimate.

Geoff Bowden

New River Crescent, Palmers Greem

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