Written by on 28/01/2022

Since the beginning of the global pandemic, the hospitality industry took an almighty blow, leaving an uncertain future for the industry. Torbay known as ‘The English Riviera’ to holidaymakers has had to place plans on hold over the last 2 years, with new government legislation coming in and changing all the time. This has affected many businesses, from luxurious hotels to B & B’s, cinemas, music venues such as concert halls, stadiums, independently owned Theatres as well as National Provincial Theatres and a whole host of other businesses. 

On Thursday 27th January, the Babbacombe Theatre finally got to host the “Money For Nothing – Dire Straits Tribute ‘20th Anniversary Tour’”. The one night only tour was rescheduled from Friday 8th May/Friday 11 December 2020, Friday 14 May & Saturday 6th November 2021. On Thursday 27th January 2022 the tour finally made its appearance at the much-loved Theatre. The night was a complete success with the group getting a standing ovation.
The doors opened at 7pm with the show commencing at 7:30pm. Featuring all the hits from their first ever single ‘Sultans of Swing’ to ‘Brothers in Arms‘, ‘Walk of Life’ and their last single released in 1992 ‘The Bug’ – also the legendary ‘Money For Nothing’ (ft Sting) which was the first ever video played on MTV. The band also include versions from ‘On the Night’ and ‘Live @ The BBC‘.
The lead singer Mr Andy Wills excelled himself after only his 3rd performance with the group. Mr Wills has been a professional musician within various bands for in excess of 30 years. The tribute band came to his local theatre and Andy got speaking with the band. He was made aware that the current lead singer was going to be shortly leaving, and after expressing his passion for Dire Straits and the iconic voice of Mark Knopfler to Derek (one of the founder members of the band), they exchanged contact details and he was invited to audition for the band in Cardiff. Andy is originally from Chesterfield, however now lives in Blackpool. The group gigs all over the country as well as within Europe, and is even going to be performing in Bahrain this coming May.

Situated on the English Riviera’s beautiful Babbacombe Downs in Torquay, South Devon. Arguably, Babbacombe Theatre is one of the most popular Theatres in the South West. Refurbished in 2009, the venue has been part of the Bay’s tourism industry since the 1930s, and is known for staging variety shows, particularly since Colin Matthews took over the venue.
Considered a valuable part of the Babbacombe and St Marychurch community, the venue works with other local attractions, retail and licensed establishments to promote the area. The theatre’s season runs from mid-February to 1st January, with midweek shows throughout the year, and weekend shows during the holiday season. Acts appearing have included Frank Carson, Jethro, Colin Fry, The Bellydance Superstars, Jimmy Tarbuck, Kiki Dee, The Rubettes featuring Bill Hurd, Raymond Froggatt, Steven K Amos, Tim Vine, Des O’Connor, Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, Elkie Brooks, Lenny Henry, Chuckle Brothers, Pam Ayres, Showaddywaddy, Jimmy Cricket and Brotherhood of Man. The theatre has been owned and operated by Colin Matthews since 1986. He is the person responsible for devising and directing all of the shows.

The theatre encourages and develops up and coming talent, and hosted for five seasons the “Torbay’s Got Talent” live event from 2006 to 2011. Its 2011 show Heatwave featured two of the event’s winners, Holly Cosgrove who won in 2009 and Stephanie Blackler, who won in 2010. In 2007, the venue’s site became a part of the English Riviera Geopark. 2009 was the Babbacombe Theatre’s 70th anniversary, and prior to the season opening in February, the venue’s 600 seats were fully refurbished, including restoration of the original metalwork, and the original parquet floor which was stripped back and polished. The proscenium arch was rebuilt after the original asbestos was removed. 2011 marked Colin Matthews’ 25th anniversary at the Babbacombe Theatre, with Heatwave, his 50th production.To present day, Babbacombe theatre is still producing a wide range of shows for holidaymakers as well as locals to enjoy and still maintains exceptionally high standards and continues to be a highly regarded, valued attraction within Torbay.

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