WONERSH
© Wonersh History Society - www.wonershhistory.co.uk (WHS)
HISTORY SOCIETY
WONERSH AMATEUR DRAMATICS SOCIETY
Apart from 1978, Peter Osborne wrote the scripts and composed the music, all of which was original. The Surrey Advertiser appreciation printed a decade ago reads: “The professional scriptwriter Peter Osborne, who made the best village pantomimes in the world, has died aged 60”. Among his television successes he scripted The Two Ronnies, but in Surrey he was renowned for his Wonersh Amateur Dramatic Society productions, which were written specifically for the individual villagers who made up the cast. A hugely talented man, Mr Osborne not only wrote the scripts but composed and played the music, painted the scenery, designed the costumes and selected materials, masterminded the special effects and organised the props. He started the Wonersh productions with entertainments at the summer church fetes, graduating to revues and then the first proper pantomime in 1959. There followed a golden age lasting two decades before the demands of his television work brought down the curtain on his Wonersh creations. Born in 1935, Mr Osborne joined Wonersh Church choir and later became its organist. His first profession was accountancy with comedy- writing developing at first as a part-time activity with fellow accountant David Newman. His first pantomime Aladdin in 1959 used DIY stage lighting made from biscuit tins. The cast changed in the Church Room opposite or a marquee with a straw floor to keep it dry and had to run around the back of the hall to enter the stage from the other side - a chilly experience for the scantily-clad actors. The first pantomime at the newly built Civic Hall in Guildford was the WADS production of Babes in the Wood in January 1964. It was a sell- out. Mr Osborne died last month and his ashes were interred in Wonersh churchyard in the shadow of the tower of the church at which he was a chorister and organist.’ Wonersh History Society was honoured in being able to arrange a gathering of old friends and principally cast members to relive many happy memories of Peter.” Wonersh History Society Bulletin No 28 - Autumn 2005 * The actual footage gives a date of 1961