Event info

On 27 December 1853, Charles Dickens stepped onto the stage at Birmingham?s Town Hall, settled into a large armchair and began his first ever public reading – A Christmas Carol. Now, on Monday 7 December, Clive Francis will give a flavour of the historic occasion at Town Hall, performing his own adaptation of A Christmas Carol and filling the stage with an entire Dickensian landscape.

Dickens?s first reading took place on a freezing, snowy night in front of ?a small family circle of some seventeen hundred persons in the vast Town Hall?. Reporting the occasion, the Birmingham Journal added, ?But Mr Dickens did not only read the story; he acted it, too. He cast a thorough individuality about all the characters which brought them warm, living and speaking before everybody.?

Clive Francis?s unique one-man version of the classic novel was adapted by him following his acclaimed RSC performance as the misanthropic Ebenezer Scrooge. In it, he brings to life a whole galaxy of Dickensian characters, from the spectral Jacob Marley to the warm loving Bob Cratchit, from Mrs Cratchit to the sadness of Tiny Tim and, of course, the Ghosts of Past, Present and Future. An evocative score by Philip Sheppard completes the picture.

Charles Dickens was a regular visitor to Birmingham and it was as a fundraising event for the Birmingham and Midland Institute that he offered to give three readings during Christmas Week 1853: The Christmas Carol (twice) and The Cricket on the Hearth. A notice appeared in the Birmingham Journal advising that ?Mr Dickens having particularly desired that one of the Readings should be given to an Audience composed of the Working Classes .. the Friday Evening shall be devoted to that purpose?.

Clive Francis performs A Christmas Carol at Town Hall Birmingham on Monday 7 December, 7.30pm.

Tickets and information or 0121 780 3333.

Note to Editors

Monday 7 December, 7.30pm, Town Hall
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Performed by Clive Francis
Tickets £15 (discounts available)

Image available on request

In association with Marc Sinden Productions

Event info

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, performed by Clive Francis, is the last event in a series celebrating Town Hall?s 175th anniversary.
Town Hall 175th Anniversary

Charles Dickens at Town Hall Birmingham:
28 February 1844 A Conversazione, held at the Town Hall, in aid of the funds of the Birmingham Polytechnic Institution
December 1853 Charles Dickens gave Three Readings from his Christmas Books in the Town Hall during the Christmas Week The Christmas Carol (27 December), The Cricket on the Hearth (29 December), The Christmas Carol (30 December).
6 January 1870 As President of the Birmingham and Midland Institute, Charles Dickens distributed the prizes and certificates awarded to the most successful students in the first year at a prize-giving evening at Town Hall

Clive Francis

Clive Francis? first engagement was in 1966 in There?s a Girl in my Soup at the Globe Theatre. He has since appeared in over 20 West End productions including: The Servant of Two Masters, The Return of A.J.Raffles, The Rear Column, The School of Scandal, The Importance of Being Earnest, Benefactors, What the Butler Saw, Single Spies, An Absolute Turkey and most recently, Entertaining Mr Sloane at the Arts Theatre. Clive has appeared in a number of productions at Chichester including: An Ideal Husband, The Circle and Look After Lulu, the last two transferring to the Theatre Royal, Haymarket.

In 1987 Clive Francis joined the Royal National Theatre company, appearing in ?Tis Pity She?s a Whore and A Small Family Business (for which he won the Clarence Derwent award). Recent stage work includes two seasons for the RSC: Three Hours after Marriage, Troilus and Cressida and A Christmas Carol. Recently he toured as Aunt Augusta in Graham Greene?s Travels with My Aunt and at the Orange Tree Theatre in The Woman Hater and The Skin Game. He has just finished playing President Eisenhower in Howard Brenton?s new play Never So Good at the National Theatre and Sir, in Ronald Harwood?s The Dresser at the Palace Theatre Watford.

His numerous television appearances include: David Copperfield, Entertaining My Sloane, Poldark, The Critic, The Far Pavilions, Yes, Prime Minster, Oedipus at Colonus, The Rear Column, Quartermaine?s Terms, The Piglet Files, Lipstick on Your Collar, The 10%ers, Longitude, Pierrepoint, etc.

Clive Francis is also a caricaturist and book illustrator and has designed the covers for a number of theatrical autobiographies. His first book, Laugh Lines, was published in 1989, followed by his tribute to honour John Gielgud?s 90th birthday Sir John: The Many Faces of Gielgud. Two years ago saw the publication of There?s Nothing Like a Dane! (the lighter side of Hamlet) followed last year by There?s Nothing Like a Thane! His work is currently on show at the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis art gallery and the foyer of the Gielgud Theatre.

Clive Francis? began adapting for the stage in 2002 with his one-man show of A Christmas Carol. This was followed with The Lavender Hill Mob, which he also directed, Three Men in a Boat, The Hound of the Baskervilles (which is currently on tour) and later next year a new production of Our Man in Havana.

The Definitive Scrooge (Daily Mail)
Clive Francis? Scrooge is spellbinding (Sunday Times)

Town Hall and Symphony Hall are managed together by Performances Birmingham Limited, a registered charity. Between them, the two halls present an exciting and varied programme of over 600 concerts and events a year, designed to appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. Over 500,000 people visit Town Hall and Symphony Hall annually, and a thriving education/community department reaches a further 20,000 people of all ages.

Town Hall Birmingham re-opened in October 2007 following a £35m renovation funded by Birmingham City Council (£18.3m), Heritage Lottery Fund (£13.7m), European Regional Development Fund (£3m).


(£2 transaction charge applies to all bookings except those made in person at the box office)

Fiona Fraser
Press & PR Manager
T 0121 644 5008 (Direct)

Lyle Bignon
Assistant Press & PR Manager
T 0121 644 6028 (Direct)

Issued 27 November 2009