The Stage

The Stage is a British weekly newspaper and website covering the entertainment industry, and particularly theatre. It was founded in 1880. It contains news, reviews, opinion, features, and recruitment advertising, mainly directed at those who work in theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage
TypeOnline, apps and weekly newspaper
FormatWeb, Tabloid, Media Company, tablet
Owner(s)The Stage Media Company Limited
PublisherThe Stage Media Company Limited
EditorAlistair Smith
Founded1 February 1880 (1880-02-01) (as The Stage Directory – a London and Provincial Theatrical Advertiser)
HeadquartersStage House, 47 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XT
Circulation400,000 per month (online); 30,000 per week (print readership)

The first edition of The Stage was published (under the title The Stage Directory – a London and Provincial Theatrical Advertiser) on 1 February 1880 at a cost of 3 old pence for twelve pages. Publication was monthly until 25 March 1881, when the first weekly edition was produced. At the same time, the name was shortened to The Stage and the publication numbering restarted at number 1.

The publication was a joint venture between founding editor Charles Lionel Carson (then aged 33) and business manager Maurice Comerford (26), and operated from offices opposite the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

The Stage entered a crowded market, with many other theatre titles (including The Era) in circulation. Undercutting their rivals, Carson and Comerford dropped the price of the paper to one penny and was soon the only remaining title in its field.

The newspaper has remained in family ownership. Upon the death in 1937 of Charles Carson's son Lionel, who had assumed the joint role of managing director and editor, control passed to the Comerford family. The current managing director, Hugh Comerford, is founder Maurice's great-grandson.

The Stage and Television Today

In 1959 The Stage was relaunched as The Stage and Television Today, incorporating a pull-out supplement dedicated to broadcasting news and features. Derek Hoddinott, the main paper's TV editor, became editor of the new supplement.

The name and supplement remained until 1995, when broadcasting coverage was re-incorporated into the main paper. The name on the masthead reverted to The Stage, but in 2006, the paper introduced a blog concentrating on television, named TV Today.

Recent history

From 1995, the newspaper has awarded The Stage Awards for Acting Excellence at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

In 2004, 96-year-old contributor Simon Blumenfeld was recognised by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest weekly newspaper columnist.[1] The column continued until shortly before his death in 2005.[2]

The Stage Awards were launched in 2010. They are given annually and recognise outstanding organisations working in theatre and beyond in the following categories: London theatre, regional theatre, producer, school, fringe theatre, theatre building, unsung hero and international.

In August 2013 The Stage launched The Stage Castings,[3] an online casting service with a video audition function.

In May 2019, The Stage partnered with the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and UK Theatre to launch Get Into Theatre[4], a website dedicated to theatre careers.

Careers started via The Stage

In 1956, writer John Osborne submitted his script for Look Back in Anger in response to an advertisement by the soon-to-be-launched Royal Court Theatre.[5]

Dusty Springfield responded to an advertisement for female singers in 1958.[5]

Idris Elba got his first acting role in a play after applying to a job ad in the paper.

Harold Pinter gained his first job after responding to an advert in The Stage[6]

Kenneth Branagh landed the lead role in The Billy Trilogy, in the BBC Play for Today series, after it was advertised in the paper.

Ricky Tomlinson responded to an ad for United Kingdom, another Play for Today, in 1981.[5]

Writer and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig landed her first television job playing the part of Ethel in No. 73 after answering an ad in The Stage. She played the part for five years.

Television presenter Maggie Philbin won her first major role, as a co-presenter of Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, after answering an advertisement in The Stage.[7]

A number of pop groups have recruited all or some of their members through advertisements placed in the newspaper, most notably the Spice Girls in 1994,[8] Scooch in 1998 and 5ive in 1997.

Lee Mead (the actor who won BBC One talent show Any Dream Will Do to gain the lead role in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) got his first professional job, working on a cruise ship, through a recruitment ad in the paper.[9]

Television presenter Ben Shephard auditioned for GMTV children's show Diggit following an advert in The Stage. While he did not get the part, he met Andi Peters, who subsequently hired him for the Channel 4 youth strand T4.[10]

Before joining Take That, Gary Barlow applied for roles advertised in The Stage newspaper.

Charles Dance landed his first role in a Welsh theatre after seeing an advert in The Stage.[11]

Alexandra Burke stated in an interview her family purchased the paper to find auditions when she was starting out: "My mum used to buy The Stage all the time for auditions for me. That’s how I got to go on [BBC TV talent show] Star for a Night with Jane McDonald."[12]

Olivier Award-winning actor Sharon D Clarke found her first role at Battersea Arts Centre through an audition advert in the paper.[13]

Lisa Scott-Lee revealed pop band Steps were formed through an advert in The Stage[14].

Sir Michael Caine stated in an interview with Steve Wright on BBC Radio 2 that at the beginning of his career he applied for acting roles he found in The Stage newspaper[15]


  • 1880–1901 Charles Carson
  • 1901–1904 Maurice Comerford
  • 1904–1937 Lionel Carson
  • 1937–1943 Bernard Weller
  • 1943–1952 S.R. Littlewood
  • 1952–1972 Eric Johns
  • 1972–1992 Peter Hepple
  • 1992–1994 Jeremy Jehu
  • 1994–2014 Brian Attwood
  • 2014–2017 Alistair Smith (print) and Paddy Smith (online)
  • 2017-present Alistair Smith

Digital archive

The paper's full content from 1880-2007 is available digitally via subscription.[16]


  • "The moment you have arrived in the profession is when you realise you don't have to read The Stage" – Noël Coward (attributed)
  • "The stage would not be the stage without The Stage" – Laurence Olivier (The Stage, 25 October 1976)
  • "There's no yellow brick road that's going to lead you straight to Oz, but there are a few things you can do and one of them is look in the back of The Stage." – Ben Shephard[10]


  1. "The Stage celebrates Blumenfeld's Guinness World Record". The Stage. 21 May 2004. Retrieved 12 October 2006.
  2. Brian Attwood (18 April 2005). "Simon Blumenfeld: Farewell to an old friend". The Stage. Retrieved 12 October 2006.
  4. "Get Into Theatre". Retrieved 2019-10-14.
  5. Katie Phillips (August 2006). "Good job – what to do once your Edinburgh run is over". The Essential Guide to the Fringe. The Stage. Retrieved 2006-10-12.
  6. " - The Tour of Ireland". Retrieved 2018-10-11.
  7. "Classic TV – Swap Shop". BBC. Retrieved 2006-05-25.
  8. The Spice Girls; Cripps, Rebecca; & Peachey, Mal (1997). Real Life: Real Spice The Official Story. London: Zone Publishers. ISBN 0-233-99299-5
  9. Lee Mead interview, Midweek, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, July 11, 2007.
  10. Mary Comerford, "Stepping up", The Stage, July 12, 2007.
  11. "WHO SAID YOU KNOW NOTHING? - Indy Online". Indy Online. 2018-01-31. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  12. "Alexandra Burke | Chess London Coliseum | interview". The Stage. 2018-05-02. Retrieved 2018-06-01.
  13. Marlowe, Sam (2018-11-08). "Doctor Who star Sharon D Clarke on racism in the industry". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2018-11-12.
  14. "The Stage - Theatre news on Instagram: "The Stage is 139 years old today! This is our first cover from 1880. We are the only national newspaper dedicated to the performing arts.…"". Instagram. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  15. "Steve Wright's Big Guests - Sir Michael Caine - BBC Sounds". Retrieved 2019-06-03.
  16. "Discover Theatre History in The Stage Archive". Retrieved 25 January 2018.
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