In His Own Words: Scarborough

This page contains quotes (listed by year) by Alan Ayckbourn with regard to his adopted home town of Scarborough. They are drawn from a variety of sources and it should always be borne in mind these quotes may not necessarily reflect Alan Ayckbourn's current thoughts on a subject.

"Scarborough is such a great place to work. You can have your cake and eat it. Most places you have to work in the theatre are also the densest areas off population… and besides I'm also a pinball addict." (1971)

"I couldn't get this kind of freedom anywhere else. The audiences here come straight up from the beach and if you write boring plays they'd simply go to sleep or go away. If they laugh here, they'll laugh in London." (1974)

"I'll always to continue to write for Scarborough. Scarborough gives me the right to fail - and that's very important." (1977)

"I'm not really an urban creature but theatre people as a rule have to live near large population centres. Scarborough being smaller than a city but larger than a village is a happy compromise. Professionally, I have a theatre there to write for and a company I can run in relative calm and with plenty of sea air. Privately I feel an identity with the place." (1977)

"If people leave their homes to see one of my plays, I feel reassured. Scarborough in January is a pretty formidable place to be." (1978)

"Reputations don't count for much here. A lot of the time in the summer we are getting people who are visiting the theatre for the first time. They aren't interested in what you have done. They come to see if you can do it again." (1979)

"Scarborough discovered me. I just happened to be around then. A town of that size suits me far better. I must be provincial by nature but I like the size of a place like that because I can see the other side of it - almost. I love the winter up there. You have to like very wild, quite cold seas coming up about a hundred feet.... It's really our town then, very quiet." (1980)

"In Yorkshire, they take their humour seriously, if you see what I mean…. They have a saying up here: 'It's too daft to laugh at', and when I hear that, I know I've overstepped the mark."(1980)


"I live in a rambling, converted vicarage near the castle ruins, and I really feel quite proprietorial about Scarborough when the summer visitors have departed. When I'm stuck over a particular scene and it doesn't come right, I put on my gumboots and walk along the beach and scream abuse at the seagulls. I can talk to myself without anyone noticing and wondering if I ought to be at large." (1980)

"I love the Yorkshire coast when the waves are high and the sea comes crashing in and the voices of the Brontës fly on the wind." (1980)

"Thank God P.G. Wodehouse never decided to become a great serious novelist. For me there is little I want to say that can't be said comically. The world needs its P.G. Wodehouses." (1981)

"I have been part of the furniture here [Scarborough] for some time now. It suits me." (1982)

"Here [in Scarborough] I am always reminded of the fact that it takes ten years to build up an audience, but only three minutes to lose it if you do the wrong thing." (1983)

"If you're a people-watcher in a village, you run out of people. In a city it becomes very anonymous and you can't find the core to it. Everything that happens in Birmingham happens in Scarborough but on a small scale. You can see the rise and fall of the bright boys, you can watch the couples coming together, separating, re-shifting. And then you're struck by the nice people here. They really are lovely." (1984)

"Scarborough is probably the toughest town for theatre. It's unenthusiastic, unimpressable. Scarborough says to itself: If you're that good, what are you doing here? I came back [after his sabbatical to the National Theatre] because nobody expected me to. But I need Scarborough at least as much as it needs me." (1988)

"A Londoner by birth, I came to Scarborough as an aspiring actor and assistant stage manager when I was 17, and have never wanted to leave. At first, it was the work which drew me. Stephen Joseph, who founded the Theatre-in-the-Round (common nowadays but virtually unheard of then), was running a very unconventional operation by the standards of 1957. Scarborough was very exciting, with Stephen encouraging young actors and writers to tackle new work. In my case, he concentrated on getting me to write and direct.

"And the Scarborough audiences: they like value for money up here. They sit there almost saying out loud: 'I've paid good money for this; now make me laugh'. Northern people have an honesty, bluntness, even rudeness - call it what you like, but I find it very good. They don't say what they don't feel. If they seem to be enjoying the evening, they really are." (1990)

"Everything about Scarborough is contrast. It's built on two bays. The north side is very quiet for people who just like to look at the sea, whereas South Bay has got the harbour and the candy floss and bingo. That's the side I like." (1990)

"They say a person is tired of life if he is tired of London. I love it for short spurts but, after I've been there for three or four weeks, I begin to miss the sea, my cat and my home." (1996)

"Scarborough is too big for a village and too small for a city and every summer it totally changes its nature as the holiday-makers flood in - it's the most stimulating, lovely place." (1997)

"Scarborough is where my heart is. It's where I start and finish." (1998)

"I'm a very committed regionalist. I could have left here a long time ago and settled in a nice Chelsea flat, but I've always loved this town and the people and I have a terrific loyalty to the Stephen Joseph Theatre." (2005)

All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd. All quotes are copyright of Alan Ayckbourn and credit should be given to 'Alan Ayckbourn's Official Website www.alanayckbourn.net' if reproduced.