Their Finest Hour was first performed at The Studio Theatre, South Hill Park, Bracknell in June 2019 and February 2020.

Production Team

  • Director – Joe Malyan
  • Writer – Steve Darlow
  • Producer – Auriole Wells
  • Musical Director –  Tim Cumper
  • Costume Design – Anne ‘Bam’ Thomson
  • Lighting Design – Lyndon Baines
  • Stage Manager and Properties – Viv Baines
  • Production Manager and Choreographer – Auriole Wells

Cast (February 2020)

  • Tabitha Baines – Cousin, Jackie Sorour, Audrey Grealy, Louie McGaughey and Others
  • Matt Collins – Jamie Dunlop
  • Alex Daykin – Cousin, Guy Gibson, Tony Pickering and Others
  • Jack Fairey – Cousin, John Ellacombe, Calton Younger and Others
  • Sam Gillett – Cousin, Tony Iveson, Donald McCleod and Others
  • Ellie Notley – Cousin, ‘Tiny’ Cooling, Gordon Mellor and Others
  • Peter Pearson – John, Neville Chamberlain, Arthur Harris and Others
  • Amy Wilding – Bonnie, Joyce Collin-Smith, Doris New and Others

Cast (June 2019)

  • Tabitha Baines – Cousin, Audrey Grealy, Louie McGaughey and Others
  • Keir Buist – Cousin, Tony Iveson, Donald McLeod and Others
  • Alex Daykin – Cousin, Guy Gibson, Tony Pickering and Others
  • Jack Fairey – Cousin, John Ellacombe, Calton Younger and Others
  • Laura Hannawin – Bonnie, Jackie Sorour, Joyce Collin-Smith and Others
  • Ellie Notley – Cousin, ‘Tiny’ Cooling, Gordon Mellor and Others
  • Peter Pearson – John, Neville Chamberlain, Arthur Harris and Others
  • Morgan Turner – Jamie Dunlop
  • Auriole Wells – Jamie’s Mother

Writer, Steve Darlow

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Steve Darlow is an author and documentary consultant with twenty books to his name. He has often been called upon as a contributor, consultant, or researcher for television documentaries, most recently the Smithsonian Channel ‘s Air Warriors – Spitfire. A further feature documentary called Lancaster is currently in production. He is writing and developing three theatrical productions, which are set within the Second World War. In 2009 Steve founded Fighting High Publishing and he actively supports fundraising for military charities, most notably the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. Steve’s grandfather served as a Pathfinder pilot with Bomber Command during the Second World War, flying on 32 operations and becoming a prisoner-of-war. He has been writing, researching and publishing books on Second World War aviation for 20 years, making him one of the most knowledgeable and respected experts on the subject. Website www.stevedarlow.com. (Steve Darlow’s authored and published books are available via his publishing website www.fightinghigh.com)

Producer, Auriole Wells

Auriole, born and trained in Liverpool, has a long association with South Hill Park. Since 1990 she has appeared in and choreographed many productions, and was the centre’s Dance Co-ordinator for ten years setting up the successful annual Lift Off Dance Festival. Auriole also works professionally in theatre, TV and film as an actor, director, singer, teacher and producer. Her most recent work includes productions of Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Company and Dancing at Lughnasa for the Wilde Theatre, Studio Theatre and Livelywood Productions at South Hill Park, Handbagged and Jessica Swale’s Nell Gwynn for Wokingham Theatre, a largescale production of My Fair Lady for Reading Operatic, a commercial video for Danone UK, and the musical Lucky Stiff which enjoyed a 4-star run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and also performed at The Other Palace London and Studio Theatre, South Hill Park. In 2012, Auriole set up the production company For George Productions and so far, two of their short films, For George and Gnomeland have gained awards and official selection screenings at various film festivals in the UK, USA and Europe. She has an active interest in aviation and history. Her uncle Bill served with the RAF’s 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron during the Second World War on Wellingtons, Stirlings and Lancasters, flying some 67 operations, and her late husband was a civilian pilot. Auriole would like to dedicate this production to her late Father Alexander James McDonald, T/104038 Driver 508 Coy RASC who always told her that he survived Dunkirk by ‘digging a bigger hole in the sandhills than anyone else’.

Director, Joe Malyan

Joe graduated from Reading University with a degree in Film and Theatre (2008). Credits: Some Voices (Reading University, 2008), Pool no Water (Downside Up Theatre Company, 2009). For South Hill Park Arts Centre: Nought and Crosses (2011), The Borrowers (2015), Peter Pan (2016), The Magic Finger (UK Debut, 2016), Macbeth (2017), The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2017), The Railway Children (2017), Romeo and Juliet (2018), Private Peaceful (2018), Macbeth (Relaunch, 2019). Website: www.joemalyan.co.uk

Credits and Thanks

Production Photos: Courtesy of Savannah Photographic. http://www.savannahphotographic.com

Their Finest Hour would like to thank Luke Burton and The Studio Theatre Company for all his help and support. South Hill Park, Staff and Stewards. Front of House and Technical Department for all their help and support. Advantage Print Room Bracknell. Yrma Van Der Meer for the Dutch Translation ‘Maria Ten-Horn Poem’. Atrium Bar and Café South Hill Park. BBC Radio Berkshire. RAF Benevolent Fund.

Costume and Props

Adrienne Henry Military Costume Hire Reading. Wokingham Theatre. South Hill Park Props Store. Kevan Daykin for the use of his RAF Uniforms. Ken Fostekew and Staff at The Museum of Berkshire Aviation Trust. Simon O’Connel, Bear and Richard at Shoot Aviation.

Writing Acknowledgements

Steve Darlow would like to thank Janet Mooney for her script editing skills
and general guidance as the idea formed.

Thanks extend to: The History Press for permission to use excerpts from
Beryl Escott’s book ‘Our Wartime Days’ ; John Davies and Grub Street Publishing for permission to quote from Ken Rees’ book ‘Lie in the Dark and Listen’; Patricia Coward for allowing us to quote poems from her late husbands anthology ‘The Poems We Wrote’; David Dunlop and family for allowing us to quote from Jamie Dunlop’s letter; Penny Whitehead for permission to quote her father Geoffrey Whitehead’s poem.

Inclusion of Noel Coward’s poem ‘Lie in the Dark and Listen’ is granted with
the kind permission of Noel Coward Archive Trust.

Listed below are the names of featured characters whose accounts are sourced from books either written or published by Steve Darlow, or his personal archive. Anne Darlow (Darlow family archive), Arthur Darlow (Lancaster Down!), Calton Younger (No Flight From The Cage), Charles Owen (D-Day Bombers), Dennis Field (D-Day Bombers), Donald McLeod (Fighting High Volume 1), Geoffrey Whitehead (The Bomber Command Memorial), Gordon Brettell (Arthur Darlow’s POW logbook), Gordon Mellor (ETA), Hart Finley (Victory Fighters), Henry Wagner (Last of the Kriegies), Jack Love (March By Moonlight), Jackie Sorour (Flying the Icon: Spitfire), John Ellacombe (Five of the Few), John Magee (High Flight), McKee (Five of the Many), Reg Barker (Last of the Kriegies), Russ Jones (No Flight From The Cage), Stan Selfe (D-Day Bombers), Tiny Cooling (Five of the Many), Tony Farrell (The Bomber Command Memorial), Tony Iveson (Five of the Many), Tony Pickering (Five of the Few), Willie Tait (Special Op Bomber).
(All other accounts from featured characters are in the public domain.)

Pictures from the production are courtesy of Savannah Photographic. http://www.savannahphotographic.com