The Better 'Ole - Oxford Theatre 1917-18

The first performance of The Better 'Ole took place at 8pm on Saturday, 4 August 1917 at the Oxford Theatre (previously known as the Oxford Music Hall) in London.  There was immense interest in the play, due to the unprecedented popularity of Bruce Bairnsfather's cartoons, and the cartoonist himself was in the audience that night, and along with his co-author Capt. the Hon. Arthur Eliot, was prevailed upon to make a speech after the final curtain had gone down. 

The play was an instant hit, and received magnificent reviews in the press in the days and weeks following the opening night. 

On this page you can find details of the original cast, and see a selection of newspaper reviews and articles about the play, along with copies of the programme and other publicity material from its long run at the Oxford.

The Better 'Ole was performed twice daily at the Oxford Theatre for over 15 months - a total of 812 performances - before finally closing on 23 November 1918, 12 days after the Armistice. 


Old Bill - Arthur Bourchier

Bert - Tom Woottwell

Alf - Sinclair Cotter

Sergeant Major - Herbert Young

Angele - Madge Burdett

Rachel - Peggy Foster

A Spy (Dubois)/French Officer/French Railway Porter - M Cromelynck

The Colonel - Frank Adair

Captain Milne/Vicar - Mark Stanley

Suzette - Goodie Reeve

1st Tommy/A Private - Harry Danby

2nd Tommy - George Vallis

3rd Tommy - David Clarkson

4th Tommy - Alfred Way

Victoire - Edmee Dormeuil

Officer of the Women Workers' Corps - Peggy Doran

The Sergeant - James Pursaill

Berthe - Germaine Arnaux

Maggie (Old Bill's wife) - Diana Durand

Kate - Glory Edgar