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