A play by one of Britain's greatest scriptwriting teams is being performed for the first time by an amateur theatre group.

The play Von Ribbentrop’s Watch is about to be staged by The Bartholomew Players from Eynsham watched by the authors.

It is written by Laurence Marks, who lives in Sherborne, and his partner Maurice Gran who wrote hit sitcoms Birds of a Feather and The New Statesman, starring the late Rik Mayall, as well as creating Goodnight Sweetheart with Nicholas Lyndhurst.

Laurence has met the cast and crew and will be attending one of the performances.

The play is about a moral dilemma Laurence faced when he was unhappily working as a house writer at Paramount Studios in Hollywood in 1985, and the American comedy writers were driving him “nuts”.

He sought solace in shopping and was initially thrilled to discover that a 200 dollar vintage Longines watch he bought was actually worth £50,000.

But Laurence is Jewish and a secret swastika inside proved it once belonged to Hitler’s right-hand man.

When a watch repairer pointed out the swastika and date 1930 right beneath the initials Laurence told the Daily Mail: “I won't say I wasn't shocked. Being Jewish, all the more so. I couldn't tell anyone I was wearing a Nazi watch. I would never be forgiven. I asked the watch repairer: 'Who was 'JVR'? And what was the swastika all about? He wasn't prepared to hazard a guess but suggested that if I was really interested I should take the watch to one of the famous London auction houses. They had experts there. They would be able to tell me.”.

Laurence began reading up on Von Ribbentrop and discovered he was the first Nazi war criminal hanged at the Nuremberg War Trials in place of Hermann Goering, who took poison in his cell, and Rudolf Hess, who convinced the judges he was mad and was given life imprisonment.

Von Ribbentrop was found guilty of crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Laurence said: "There was no question that the story contained all the dramatic elements of a fine play. Its central conundrum should be: 'What does a Jew do when he suddenly discovers that he is wearing a Nazi watch, particularly if he desperately needs the money?

"After endless discussions Maurice and I were convinced about what a good play this could make. So for three or more years we discussed the characters that would people our drama. I say 'drama' but it quickly became apparent to us both that what we had here was a black comedy," he told the Daily Mail.

The Bartholomew Players said they were “delighted and honoured to perform this lively and hugely enjoyable comedy”.

Director Gareth Hammond said: “I saw this play performed at Oxford Playhouse several years ago and have wanted to put it on ourselves ever since. When I approached the authors about this, I was thrilled to get their agreement. They have even said they will come to one of our performances. It is a very funny play, which everyone will enjoy. I can’t recommend it highly enough and look forward to welcoming our audiences back after the enforced break.”

The Players highly recommend that you purchase tickets online in order that they have your contact details should they need to inform you of any changes to the performance or Government guidance on Covid.

It will be performed at Eynsham Village Hall on Weds 24th, Thurs 25th, Fri 26th and Sat 27th Nov.

Tickets are available from www.ticketsource.co.uk/bartholomewplayers, in advance from Denise Santilli, 07721 744020, bart.players@gmail.com, from Evenlode DIY in Eynsham or on the door