Stage shows come and go, but the Oxfordshire Gang Show, it appears, goes on forever.

The annual extravaganza featuring Scouts, Guides, Cubs and Brownies continues to attract huge audiences after more than 70 years.

The six performances at Radley College Theatre, near Abingdon, recently were no exception, with great enthusiasm on stage as well as in the audience.

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Two hours of singing, dancing, music and comedy brought delight to everyone.

The history of the Oxford Gang Show dates back to the late 1940s when Ralph Symonds, a master at Magdalen College School, organised a light-hearted show called Maudlin Madness.

When he became leader of the 40th Oxford Sea Scouts, he suggested a show involving Scouts all over the district.

Oxford Mail: The Gang ShowMusical shows were staged at the Clarendon Press Institute in Walton Street in the early years, with the first Gang Show being staged there in 1952.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Scouting in 1957, the show moved to the Oxford Playhouse. Planned originally as a one-night show, every seat was filled for a whole week.

It remained at the Playhouse until 1966 when technical and financial problems led to a spell of smaller shows.

But in 1972, the full show resumed for two nights at Oxford Town Hall. Further performances took place at Oxford Polytechnic and St Edward’s School before a move to the New Theatre in 1979, where it remained until 2012.

It was the longest-running amateur show the theatre had hosted.

Increasing costs meant a further move to Radley College where, 72 years later, performances continue to enthral those on stage and in the audience.

Picture 1: Carnival time at the 1987 show

Picture 2: Twins in the 2001 show – from top, Tanya and Louise Crapper, 17, Sreya and Sravya Rao, 14, Lucy and Stephanie Walters, nine, and Charlotte and Sophie Blaine, 13

Picture 3: Three-legged in 2002 – left to right, Josh Dawson, 10, Stuart Beasley, 12, Jamie Tarlton, 11 and Hannah Page, 10

Picture 4: Finale in 1999

Picture 5: Rehearsal in 2000

Picture 6: In full voice in 1963.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

You can also read his weekly Traffic and Transport newsletter.