The Ayckbourn Archive: Relatively Speaking

These Archival items and images related to Alan Ayckbourn's first West End success, Relatively Speaking, are predominantly drawn from the Ayckbourn Archive at the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York and The Bob Watson Archive at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.
In-depth details about the play can be found at the
Relatively Speaking section here.

Visit the in-depth Relatively Speaking section at Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website.

Relatively Speaking (1965)

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Title: Contract (1965)
Copyright: Haydonning Ltd
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: Relatively Speaking was first produced at the Library Theatre, Scarborough, during 1965 under the title Meet My Father. This is part of Alan Ayckbourn's original contract for this production.

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Title: Programme (1965)
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: A programme for the world premiere of Relatively Speaking (or Meet My Father as originally produced) at the Library Theatre, Scarborough. Alan's mentor Stephen Joseph directed the play, one of his final productions before his death in 1967.

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Title: Postcard (1965)
Photographer: Ken Boden (© Haydonning Ltd)
Archive: Borthwick Institute for Archives

Description: A publicity postcard from the Library Theatre, Scarborough, with a scene from the world premiere of Relatively Speaking (Meet My Father) during 1965.

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Title: Review (1965)
Copyright: The Scarborough News
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: The first ever review for Relatively Speaking (Meet My Father) was carried by the Scarborough Evening News on 9 July 1965. Factually it is incorrect in stating Alan had written three plays for the Library Theatre, this was actually his fifth.

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Title: Royalties (1965)
Copyright: Haydonning Ltd
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: Details of royalties due to Alan Ayckbourn from the world premiere production of Relatively Speaking at the Library Theatre. Note how just one month after its premiere, the title has already changed from Meet My Father to Taken For Granted.

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Title: Father's Day (1965)
Copyright: Haydonning Ltd
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: The cover from a revised manuscript for Relatively Speaking circa September 1965. As can be seen from the cover, the title Meet My Father has been altered to Taken For Granted - both crossed out - with another title, Father's Day, in place.

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Title: Yorkshire Post (1967)
Copyright: Yorkshire Post
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: An interesting early article about Alan Ayckbourn going into the West End with the now renamed Relatively Speaking. Despite apparently being familiar with the playwright for several years, the author - Desmond Pratt - still manes to misspell Alan's name as Allan!

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Title: Flyer (1967)
Copyright: To be confirmed
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: A flyer for the West End premiere of Relatively Speaking, which would be Alan's break-out production. The cast was highly notable for its quality and Richard Briers would go on to become an accomplished and frequent Ayckbourn performer in an acclaimed acting career.

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Title: Noël Coward (1967)
Copyright: Haydonning Ltd
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: A rather famous item from the archive. The playwright Noël Coward saw Relatively Speaking in the West End and sent a telegram to Alan (with apparently not enough postage). He, believing it was a joke, threw the telegram away until Richard Briers verified Coward had seen the show, leading Alan to hastily recover this significant piece of theatrical history.

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Title: West End (1967)
Copyright: To be confirmed
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: A rare photograph of the set of The Willows for the West End premiere of Relatively Speaking, designed by Hutchinson Scott. This is probably one of the most detailed and ambitious sets seen for the play and a far cry from the minimalist design of its in-the-round origins at Scarborough.

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Title: Celia Johnson (1969)
Copyright: BBC
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: In 1969, the BBC adapted Relatively Speaking for television with Celia Johnson reprising her West End role opposite Donald Sinden. This was the first screen adaptation of a full-length Ayckbourn play. It was broadcast on 2 March 1969, but - sadly - all that remains are believed to be publicity images as no extant copy of the film is believed to have survived.

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Title: Directorial Debut (1970)
Copyright: Haydonning Ltd
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: Strange as it may be, but the first time Alan Ayckbourn actually directed Relatively Speaking was for an amateur company - Leeds Art Theatre - in 1970 while he was working in Leeds as a Radio Drama Producer for the BBC. He was patron of the company and agreed to direct the show as a favour to the company. He would not professionally direct it until 1977; 12 years after writing the play. This was the cover of the programme.

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Title: Touring (1974)
Copyright: To be confirmed
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: Relatively Speaking was a huge success for Alan Ayckbourn and following its West End production was picked up extensively for performance throughout the UK and Europe. There have been many notable productions, but perhaps this flyer for a 1974 touring production is one of the strangest with the star Dora Bryan apparently given over to breaking into song medleys, following the curtain call, for her devoted fans!

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Title: Relatively Speaking (1977)
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: Alan Ayckbourn would not professionally direct Relatively Speaking until 1977; 22 years after its world premiere. He directed a revival at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in the Round - the second home to the company founded by Stephen Joseph in 1955 and of which Alan became Artistic Director in 1972. This was the poster for the production.

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Title: New York Premiere (1984)
Copyright: To be confirmed
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: The professional New York premiere of Relatively Speaking did not take place until 1984 at the Intar Theatre on Theater Row (West 42nd Street). It was presented by Artistic New Directions with previous attempts to stage the play in NYC going all the way back to 1967! This is a detail from the programme.

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Title: BBC Adaptation (1989)
Copyright: BBC
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: Relatively Speaking has been broadcast for television three times by the BBC with the latest adaptation being in 1989. The production starred Nigel Hawthorne and Imogen Stubbs and was directed by Michael Simpson. This is a rare promotional 'Christmas card' sent out by the BBC to promote the play.

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Title: SJT (2007)
Copyright: Scarborough Theatre Trust
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: To mark the 40th anniversary of Relatively Speaking opening in the West End, Alan Ayckbourn revived the play at his home theatre, the Stephen Joseph Theatre, in 2007. This was the poster for the production.

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Title: Act 1 Set (2007)
Copyright: Michael Holt
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: For Alan Ayckbourn's 2007 revival of Relatively Speaking, his recruited his regular designer Michael Holt. This is Michael's model box of Act 1, scene 1 and his solution to allowing the complete change of scene to take place as quickly as possible.

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Title: Act 1 Set (2007)
Copyright: Michael Holt
Archive: The Bob Watson Archive

Description: Designer Michael Holt's model box for Act 1, scene 2 of Alan Ayckbourn's 2007 revival as the play moves to the garden of The Willows. Alongside the previous image, this illustrates how Michael handled the extensive but quick scene change from scene 1 to scene 2.

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Title: West End Revival (2013)
Copyright: To be confirmed
Archive: Borthwick Institute For Archives

Description: In 2013, almost five decades after its original West End run, Relatively Speaking returned to the West End for a three month run starring Felicity Kendal and Kara Tointon. This is the poster for the production directed by Lindsay Posner.

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