The History of Gang Show

In 1931, Reader, a Rover Scout trying to make his mark in theatre in the USA and London, was asked to write a Scout-based variety show to raise money for a swimming pool at Downe Scout Camp (now a Scout Association National Activity Centre). Rehearsals began under Reader's direction on 25 May 1932, his 29th birthday.

Initially the show did not have a title, but during a rehearsal break, Reader recalled, he asked a cast member if everyone was ready, to which the response was "Aye, aye Skip, the gang's all here". The first production, The Gang's All Here, ran between 30 October and 1 November 1932 at the Scala Theatre in central London.

The show was not a sell-out but enough was raised to fund the swimming pool and the show was well received. Baden-Powell, the founder of scouting, persuaded Reader to produce another show in 1933. This was The Gang Comes Back and ran for a week.

Reader continued to write and produce the London Gang Show. In 1934 the show became The Gang Show and Crest of a Wave was performed for the first time, becoming over the years the anthem.

In 1937 the London show became the first amateur production to have a Royal Command Performance (an honour repeated in 1957 and 1964). A feature film called The Gang Show, starring Ralph Reader and The Gang, premièred at the Lyceum Theatre, London in April the same year, and in New York in December 1938.