The Better 'Ole - Australia and New Zealand Tours
The first actor to play Old Bill in Australia was Arnold Bell, who had already played the role over 1,000 times in one of Charles B Cochran's touring companies back in England. Bell was chosen to lead the New English Comedy Company put together by Hugh D McIntosh, governing director of Harry Rickards Tivoli Theatres Limited to bring the play to Australia.
Arnold Bell and the other members of the cast arrived in Australia in January 1919. They had been due to open at the Tivoli Theatre in Melbourne on 1 February 1919, but after two dress rehearsals were forced to postpone their opening as Theatres were closed due to the influenza epidemic.
The Better 'Ole finally opened at Melbourne's Tivoli Theatre on 8 March 1919.
Tivoli Theatre, Melbourne 8 March - 24 April 1919
Tivoli Theatre, Adelaide 3 - 12 May 1919
His Majesty's Theatre, Ballarat 15 May 1919
Geelong Theatre, Geelong 17 May 1919
Tivoli Theatre, Sydney 24 May - 3 July 1919
Victoria Theatre, Newcastle 5 - 9 July 1919
Old Bill --- Arnold Bell
Bert --- Percy Cahill
Alf --- David Hallam
Sergt-Major --- J Wilton Richards
Colonel --- T McCausland Stewart
Victoire --- Clarice Hardwicke
Suzette - Audrey Worth
Shortly after Arnold Bell's company gave their last performance of The Better 'Ole, New Zealand born actor and stage manager Lionel Walsh announced he had organised a new touring company and, by arrangement with Hugh D McIntosh would take The Better 'Ole on an overland tour throughout Australia. This, though, would be a tour with a difference. The entire company would travel by motor car. Three Chevrolet cars would transport the company of 15, and another car equipped as a lorry would carry all of the scenery and wardrobe.
Old Bill --- Lionel Walsh
Bert --- George Edwards
Alf --- Hubert Lee
Victoire --- June Addell
Suzette --- Dorothy Hawtree