From left to right – My first poster, printed on bright yellow day-glow paper, for the Leeds City Varieties in 1982. I was thrilled to discover an original has been preserved in the Leeds City Archive.
The poster (second right) was designed by Annie Millar and first used in 1987. Again, bright yellow was more eye-catching. The two cartoon posters (right) were created by artist Russ Tudor and based on the sort of characters in VIZ magazine, which was very popular at the time and have all appeared outside theatres all over the world.
Please note – these images are copyright and must not be reproduced without my written permission.
Click on each poster to zoom in.
I try to make the posters a bit different for every tour while retaining some elements that are instantly recognisable.
As soon as people see the word ‘Hypnotist’ the picture makes immediate sense. Some of the posters might be over complicated with too many competing elements, but you have to try these things and then wait to see the response. I think my favourite is the one of the row of empty chairs because it gives a feeling of anticipation. On the night, those chairs will be occupied by people I have never met before – every show is different because people behave in different ways, and that’s all part of the fun, and to be honest, it’s one of the things that stops me getting bored!
The poster (far right) for the Liverpool Empire Theatre got a lot of attention – and some complaints – because some people felt it was exploitive, but as soon as they went up around the city, ticket sales went through the roof. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, I did more than 400 shows in Liverpool, selling out the Royal Court Theatre, and later the 2,300 seat Liverpool Empire Theatre. I was so well known that when I went back there after an absence of nearly ten years, the name alone was enough to sell the show.
I’m always messing about with the artwork. The poster below left says it all, but I quite like the one below right because it reflects the Victorian specialness of the world famous 500 seat Leeds City Varieties, the oldest working theatre in the UK. The photograph was taken from one of the boxes by a friend – the moment I saw it, I immediately thought, “Poster!!!”
Opened in 1865, the ‘Verts’ is one of the last remaining examples of the Victorian music hall. My association with the world famous Leeds City Varieties has lasted for nearly 40 years. I first performed there in 1981 and I’ve done more shows there – a record 331 performances in total – than any other performer in the theatre’s history, most of them sell-outs. I have a special fondness for the Varieties and its fascinating history. To find out more, please go to
The poster (below left) was mocked-up for the second South African Tour in 1999. South Africa was still very much a conservative country – they didn’t know what had hit them when I arrived – audiences sat there in shock during the induction, and then screamed with laughter right through to the end. I started in Cape Town at the 3,000 seat 3-Arts Theatre where I did two shows a night, seven nights a week, for three and then spent the next five months touring the country. After that tour, I thought I’d like to stay and live there permanently… So I did!
The last three posters are from various New Zealand tours – the one (far right) was too ‘busy’ so we didn’t use it again.