Christmas V Mastermind: Behind The Scenes

Behind The Scenes offers a glimpse at some rarely known facts regarding the writing of Alan Ayckbourn's plays with material drawn from the Ayckbourn Archive at the University Of York and the playwright's personal archive.
  • It is possible that Christmas V Mastermind began with a slightly different title. In an article in The Times, dated 3 December 1962, about the Victoria Theatre's recent opening, there is mention of Alan Ayckbourn's new play as being titled Father Christmas Versus The Mastermind. Whether this was correct at the time of going to press is unknown, but it seems likely. This is the earliest known reference to the play (preceding even advertising for the play, which was notoriously very late) and whilst other articles refer to it by its correct title, they were all published later than this article and verbally after the production had opened.
  • The actress Heather Stoney, later to also become Alan Ayckbourn's wife, played the role of the Fairy in the production and was reported in the local press on 27 December to have accidentally splashed cleaning fluid in her eye and, consequently, ended up playing the role for several performances with an eye-patch!
  • For some unknown reason, the play-title became abbreviated in some articles and books during the '80s / '90s to Xmas Vs Mastermind, which irritated the playwright. The play should never be referred with the abbreviation as it was written and performed as Christmas V Mastermind.
Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd