Christmas V Mastermind: Frequently Asked Questions

Alan Ayckbourn's Archivist Simon Murgatroyd's answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Alan Ayckbourn's Christmas V Mastermind. If you have a question about this or any other of Alan Ayckbourn's plays, you can contact the website via the Contact Us page.

Why isn't Christmas V Mastermind available to be performed? / Why hasn't Christmas V Mastermind been published?
Alan Ayckbourn considers his earliest plays to be his first steps as a playwright when he was learning his craft. As a result, he doesn't feel they particularly reflect the quality or standard of writing he would later achieve and do not stand up particularly well due to his inexperience as a writer. As a result, he has never allowed them to be performed again and has not published the plays.

Where can I read the play for research purposes?
An original manuscript for Christmas V Mastermind is held in the Lord Chamberlain's Collection at the British Library and a photocopy of an original manuscript is also held in the Ayckbourn Archive in the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York.

Christmas V Mastermind is referred to by other names / versions of the title in books about the playwright, what is the correct title?
Christmas V Mastermind is the correct title. It is used on the original manuscript and on the programme for the original production; anything else is wrong. The most common mistakes are Xmas V Mastermind and Christmas Versus (or Vs) Mastermind, but as far as the playwright is concerned the play has never been anything but Christmas V Mastermind.

One of the characters is referred to as the Crimson Gollywog, is this a mis-spelling?
The character is referred to throughout both the script and the programme for the original production as the Crimson Gollywog, rather than the accepted spelling of Golliwog. It is worth noting that, of course, since writing the play, the term now presents obvious difficulties. Purely within the context of the play and the period it was written, the name was derived from the commonly found children's toy and is also a play on words; golliwogs are black dolls, for them to be crimson would not make them golliwogs. It should also be emphasised that, other than the name, there is nothing else to relate the character to a golliwog: the actor neither blacked up nor wore the traditional outfit of the toys, instead spending most of the play either in disguise or a velvet smoking gown.

Why is Christmas V Mastermind not classed as one of Alan Ayckbourn's 'family' plays?
The 'family' plays are a series of full-length plays written by Alan Ayckbourn between 1988 and 2004, starting with Mr A's Amazing Maze Plays. These plays were deliberately written to reflect not just a children's audience but a family audience in that Alan hoped the plays would appeal to all members of a family from children to adult; whereas Christmas V Mastermind was written specifically as a children's play for Christmas. Also, as Christmas V Mastermind has not been published or made available to produce, there is little point in grouping it with a collection of plays which were written within a concentrated period of time with the intention of being 'family' plays and which are all available to produce.

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd.