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 over 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, donations and eventually some Arts Council Funding were all that saved the venue from closure.

It was because of the monies raised we were able to re-open in May 2021 after 14 months of closure. With this year being Colin’s 35th anniversary at the theatre, it seemed bittersweet when we could actually open again but with many restrictions in place!

Colin reflects and remembers that since he saved the theatre from closure back in 1986, there have been many highs and lows over the years, he states, “the irony is that 2020 and early 2021 is a repeat of my first year in 1986, in so much as, that was also a financial disaster. Hopefully though, with the support of the local community, businesses and coaching hotels who have always supported us in the past, will enable us to thrive as we keep on doing what we all enjoy doing best, ENTERTAINING you”.

During 2024 as well as FANTAZY, we enjoyed appearances from iconic performers, including, Jim Davidson, Chris McCausland, G4, Roy Chubby Brown, Roy Hemmings, Spencer James, Henning Wehn, Dean Friedman & several casts’ members from the Britain’s favourite talent shows, The Voice, Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor!

In previous years many of the audience members have reviewed shows and have said, “Steve Laister – he should be on the TV”. Well, he may not be on the television, but what the show’s Producer/Director, Colin Matthews can promise is that Steve will once again, be doing what he does best… in Fantazy, as he continues to introduce new never seen before, unique comedic characters, albeit he is as equally poised as a singer as he is a comedian.

Pitching towards the heavens and reaching beyond the cosmos with their astounding vocal ability will be star of ‘The Voice’ Holly Cosgrove, award winning vocalist Gaz Hocking and national acclaimed singing sensation Lorna Amy Sullivan.

Magic plays a massive part in these out of world experiences and ‘Fantazy’ has a comedy magician that promises BIG illusions that never fail to deliver.  Matt Grindley plans to amaze you, whilst making you laugh too; however, it will undoubtedly be his technical skills that confound you.

Striding with the wind whilst gracefully adorning the stage are the vivacious ‘Danze Fantazy’ albeit they can be quite ‘naughty’ too along with Kidz & Co., doing everything they can to be ‘Revolting Children.’ Resident Choreographer, Lucy O’Neill along with Musical Director Pete Leonard bring life to Fantazy through their mastery of choreography and musical arrangements, making a production that could be ordinary quite extraordinary!

The venue with its extended season running from February to October, as well as the visiting shows providing early and late dates and the regular Christmas Show the venue 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 SHOWS 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, you can get a wonderful meal with exemplary service at both The Babbacombe Inn and The Waddling Duck at Hamilton’s, set directly across the road too. a visit to either one of these fine establishments will surely make your theatre experience more memorable!


The Babbacombe Royal Hotel & Carvery, The Downs Hotel, Babbacombe Bay Café, Hanbury's Fish Restaurant renowned for their award-Winning fish & Chips, The Babbacombe Hotel, The Cary Arms, Angels, The Buccaneer, the Cliff Railway Café, Three Degrees West Bar & Bistro on Oddicombe Beach and finally, but by no means least the Divers Arms.