Ralph Reader in Cambridge

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Ralph Reader, founder of Gang Shows in 1932, was an actor, producer and songwriter.

He is recorded as attending three Gang Shows in Cambridge, in 1978 and on the last nights of 1980 and 1982.  This last was in January 1982 and Ralph died on 13th May 1982 at the age of 79.  It was the last Gang Show he attended. 

Geoff Oliver of the 28th recalls shaking his hand backstage. Di Chapman, Alex ‘Nibs’ Molineaux and Sean Masters have been identified as being in the picture.

In more recent years, with the National changes in age set up, the Venture Scouts and Rangers have regularly produced annual “Gang Shows” with considerable success; reaching the standard entitling them to wear the special scarf last year, and this year they even had a visit from Ralph Reader himself.’    Ken North  70 years in Scouting  (dated 1978).

See FS 120163  Scout Show recognition scheme

Ÿ Gang Shows The most traditional form of Scout Shows is the Gang Show. This is a fast moving revue show that was initiated by Ralph Reader CBE in 1932, and remains popular today. Traditionally Gang Shows have celebrated National Recognition through the wearing of red scarves with the Gang Show emblem embroidered on the back. This was the scarf that the cast of the original London Gang Show used to wear.

Tony Claydon (Gang Show member) recalled in 2021 There is an interesting side story to Ralph coming to the show (1978). He came by train (on a Saturday)A s we were all involved in the show. My wife along with Robs (Farringdon) Wife collected him from the station. Also in the car was a young Craig. They took Ralph to the Arundel hotel as we had arranged for him to stay the night . The pianist there at the time used to help Ralph with some of his arrangements. Ralph signed a show ticket with the words “to Craig from Ralph”.

Commemoration Dinner

Tony and Rob Farringdon (Gang Show member) recalled in 2021 a celebration dinner at the Piccadilly Hotel in London for Ralph in March 1982 which they attended.

I cannot remember to much about the dinner. Tony Claydon recalled in 2021 ‘I think Carderew Robinson may have given a speech. The one thing that stands out in my memory is that the next day on one of the evening T.V. chat shows . Jim Davidson was being interviewed his open comment was that you are lucky to get me as I was going to a dinner to celebrate Ralph Reader when I got the last minute call to come here . He pulled out of his pocket his red scarf. I can remember seeing him in the London Gang show years before that evening.’


Tony Claydon recalled in 2021 ‘With regard to the funeral . There was a small group of us went to the funeral . We were all in uniform having got there relatively early .Sitting in the main body of the church we were asked to go and sit in the choir stalls as we were in uniform (with Red scarf). The church was packed with many from stage and screen. The few that I can remember are, Roy Castle, Bernard Breslaw, Spike Milligan. As Ralph coffin was brought in all members of the Water Rats formed a Guard of Honour.

JWR Archivist June 2019