older performers still treading the boards to meet demand from their contemporaries
I saw an ad today for Scrooge the musical, which will be at the London Palladium this Autumn starring Tommy Steele, aged 75.
This tied in rather nicely with a piece I stumbled across on The Stage’s website earlier this week about the resilience of older performers, including Ann Emery (82), who plays Billy’s gran eight times a week in Billy Elliot in the West End and Des O’Connor (80), who is currently starring as the title character in The Wizard of Oz. Meanwhile, away from the world of musicals, Ken Dodd (84) and Paul Daniels (74) are both still touring while Bruce Forsyth (82) continues to remind us to “keep dancing”.
You certainly won’t find the average AdMan still working well into their 70s or even 80s. You could argue these older entertainers have got performing and the associated applause so tied up with their own identity that they can’t live without it. Or that their lifestyle requires them to keep working to pay the bills. But they couldn’t work if the demand wasn’t there – and thanks to better healthcare, lifestyle and pension provision there’s an enormous, relatively affluent 70+ audience out there who want to see the stars they’ve always enjoyed watching. An audience that has the flexibility to attend matinées, will happily go on organised group outings to the theatre and enjoys ‘proper’ Saturday night entertainment that they can watch even if the extended family are over.
This audience is one of the most affluent demographics in the UK – and probably one of the most ignored by marketeers. If I had a product or brand aimed at these kind of people, I’d be on the phone to Tommy Steele’s agent straight away.