About The Theatre

The atmosphere in this place, you can't beat! Stay kind to it and treasure it all you can ... "Bruce Forsyth


Although bands had performed during the summer on the site where Babbacombe Theatre now stands, it wasn't until 1920 that a small bandstand was built. This was followed in 1935 by a larger structure with a canvas awning and although an improvement on the alfresco concerts the inevitable wind and rain did its worst, so in 1938 the BABBACOMBE DOWNS CONCERT HALL was built and it remained virtually unchanged for almost 50 years, until the present management took over in 1986 when improvements started to be made to enable more lavish productions to be staged.

The Concert Hall was officially opened in brilliant sunshine by the Mayor (Councillor C.G. Price), attended by members of the Torquay Corporation Entertainments Committee & St. Marychurch & Babbacombe representatives of the Town council. The ratepayers of Torquay, at a cost of £8,000, funded the building project.

The very first concert here was on the afternoon of 27th May 1939 with the Earnest Gross Municipal Orchestra and BBC Baritone John Steabben, followed that evening by the opening night of the first summer show, Cabaret Revels with tickets at 3/-, 2/- and 6d. The first Sunday concert on 4th June was broadcast live on the radio with Redvers Llewellyn.

With the advent of World War II it was not long before entertainment had to give way to more important uses and the auditorium became a lecture hall for the air crew trainees of the RAF, although during this period there were various shows including those by ENSA and the RAF Flying Training Command Band. This wartime use was commemorated with a plaque presented by the local RAF Association, now on display in the theatre foyer.

Since the war the theatre had seen many years of successful summer shows and it has the reputation of hosting household names on the threshold of their careers, including in 1955/56 Bruce Forsyth, who headlined in the Hedley Claxton's 'Gaytime'. Other well known names include David Nixon, Ted Rogers, Ray Allen, Norman Vaughan and Roy Hudd.

From its heyday in the 1970's, successive failures in the early 1980's led to the council deciding to close the theatre, however Colin Matthews, who had been operating the theatre since 1986 took on a new lease in 1990.  Since then he has turned the venue into one of the most successful theatres of its size in the country

...And Now

Refurbished in 2006 the BABBACOMBE THEATRE, has been a valuable asset to the town for eighty years. Renowned for wowing audiences with their highly acclaimed shows, most especially since 1986 when Matpro Limited took over the venue, you can feel confident that a night at the Babbacombe Theatre will deliver on the ENTERTAINMENT factor!

The ENTERTAINMENT factor is paramount to the successes of the productions at Babbacombe Theatre, as is the artistic and creative flair of the show’s producer and director, Colin Matthews. Colin has produced all the shows at the venue since 1986.

But with the closures of all entertainment venues in 2020, only 5 weeks into the season, suddenly the future of the theatre was in jeopardy! Personal loans and donations were all that saved the venue from closure, having had applications for funding rejected for not meeting criteria. It was with the support of everyone that donated towards the venues Emergency Fund  and via the #SaveOurTheatres national campaign in conjunction with the Theatres Trust and Crowdfunder, that we are able re-open as restrictions are eased in 2021

Unbelievably in 2021 after 14 months of closure 2021 represents not only the 7th consecutive year the venue continues to be ranked on TripAdvisor’s Theatres and Performances listing as the Number 1 theatre in Torquay and Number 1 on Things To Do in Torquay, it is also Colin’s 35th anniversary at the theatre!

Colin reflects and remembers that since he saved the theatre from closure there have been many highs and lows over the years, he states, “the irony is that this last year is a repeat of my first year in 1986, in so much as that was also a financial disaster. Hopefully, we can bounce back again with the help of the local community, businesses and the hotels who have always supported us in the past”.

During 2021 as well as SuperStars 2021 & I Love Music, appearances from iconic performers are bound to make an impression. See Jim Davidson, David Baddiel, , Tim Vine, Merrill Osmond & G4 to name just a few! There really is something to ENTERTAIN YOU at the Babbacombe Theatre throughout this new season.

SuperStars is a word that conjures up an image of celebrities, who are usually regarded in high esteem and as being inspirational. Therefore, a show of that name, you’d expect to see something that was extraordinary and utterly FAB-U-LOUS!

‘Fabulous’ is the word most used in reviews on TripAdvisor, Google and on our social media pages for our annual seasonal shows. Just as is the comment, “Steve Laister – he should be on the TV”.

Well, he may not be on the television, yet, but Steve will once again be doing what he does best… ENTERTAIN YOU, as he headlines for another season.

It takes a star to make a legend and this new show will feature some of the most iconic stars of music, stage and screen, performed by a multi-talented cast, that will embrace the comedic talents of Del Boy, Stavros Flatley and Benny Hill whilst they also perform melodic songs from stunning movie soundtracks and/or stage shows with numbers from, 9-5, Top Gun, Hairspray, Jersey Boys, The Greatest Showman, Grease and Burlesque.

Music is the universal language, and what feelings sound like! It inspires us and as quoted by Victor Hugo, “expresses that which cannot be said”. Albeit the all-new show, I Love Music has a lot to say! You can expect to enjoy a fun-filled show which will take you on an inspirational musical journey, encapsulating all genres on the musical spectrum every Thursday from June to October.

The venue with its extended season running from February to October, as well as the visiting shows providing early and late dates and the now regular Christmas Show the Babbacombe Theatre has productions running virtually throughout the year. New shows are constantly added to the programme as a season progresses, to keep abreast of all the shows appearing at this celebrated venue, refer to the WHAT'S ON tab (www.babbacombe-theatre.com)

The Box Office hours vary during the season, however when closed calls divert to the administration office.

Box Office: 01803 328385
Email: [email protected]

The theatre provides:

  • Access for the disabled with a disabled toilet
  • Wheelchair spaces
  • Loop system
  • Sundries, confectionery, and soft drinks

Enjoy a pre-show meal or drink in the interval or after the show at the Babbacombe Inn, literally across the road and only a 30 second walk. It is advisable to book prior to your visit to the theatre and if you redeem your voucher on your ticket holder against your pre-show meal for two, you can get 2 sizzling steaks for only £15 (subject to terms and conditions) to contact the Babbacombe Inn call on 01803 316200.

Additionally, if you use your theatre ticket when booking at Hamilton’s, set directly across the road too, you can redeem their offer as printed on the reverse of the ticket. They have a specially pre-theatre menu, where you can enjoy the best of local cuisine, select from their 2 course set menu for £15.95 or 3 course set menu at £19.95. Something to make your theatre experience more memorable!