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13 November 2014

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You are in: Nottingham > History > Local history > Nottingham's Mousetrap origins

Richard Attenborough

Nottingham's Mousetrap origins

The Mousetrap is the longest running production in London. But it actually began life in Nottingham.

Agatha Christie probably had no idea what a record breaker she was creating when she wrote The Mousetrap.

For more than 50 years it's been pulling theatre audiences into London's West End.

What you might not be aware of is that prior to starting its record-breaking run, The Mousetrap had its world premiere at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham.

The date was 6 October, 1952, with a cast that included Richard Attenborough and Sylvia Syms.

It was originally directed by Peter Cotes, elder brother of Roy and John Boulting, the film directors.

Richard Attenborough

Richard Attenborough in his Mousetrap days

Secret of its success

The fact that Sir Richard Attenborough was in that first show in Nottingham probably has a lot to do with The Mousetrap's longevity.

David Turner a long-time artistic director of The Mousetrap says:-

"It was very fortunate that Richard Attenborough was in it at the beginning and made a commitment for 18 months. It gave the play a firm foundation to build on."

Interestingly, once Attenborough's stint ended The Mousetrap went against West End tradition and made a point of not signing big names. It's reputation became based upon its plot and use of red herrings.

Tradition has it that anyone seeing the play must never reveal whodunit.

Sylvia Syms

Sylvia Syms back in the 1950s


When Queen Mary, wife of King George V, was approaching her 80th birthday she was apparently asked by the BBC how she would like to celebrate the event.

She responded by saying an Agatha Christie play. The writer responded by writing a thirty minute radio play for the BBC in 1947 called Three Blind Mice. It was this that would form the basis for The Mousetrap.

Fascinating facts

Since its debut there's been more than 23,000 performances of the mystery thriller.

In 1952 Deryck Guyler recorded the radio bulletin used in the original production. It's still used today making him the longest serving cast member (even though he died in 1999).

It's been performed in more than 44 countries but it all started here at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham.

last updated: 13/03/2009 at 10:38
created: 13/03/2009

You are in: Nottingham > History > Local history > Nottingham's Mousetrap origins

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