Campaign to save Oldham’s Coliseum Theatre backed by actors including Sir Ian McKellen and Maxine Peake

The Oldham Coliseum Theatre (Photo: Google Maps)
The Oldham Coliseum Theatre (Photo: Google Maps)

A campaign group to save Oldham’s Coliseum theatre has received the backing of huge names from the world of acting. Amongst the large list of names to lend their support are Sir Ian McKellen, Christopher Eccleston and Maxine Peake.

The big names have signed a letter calling for the theatre to be saved. The venue has been closed since March 31 following the loss of all of its Arts Council England funding.

A survey carried out by independent contractors PLANN goes against Oldham Council’s findings that the theatre isn’t fit for purpose. This new report says that the building is in fact in good working order.

The theatre dates back to the Victorian era and had become a key feature of the community. Over the years it has hosted big names such as Charlie Chaplin, Ralph Fiennes and Sian Phillips.

In recent years it has become a key hosting venue in the town, providing a space for community groups. These include the Young People's and Elders' Groups as well as Roma Connections, Chai Women, and Khushi, which is an annual festival celebrating the creativity of Oldham's South Asian communities.

Plans for a new theatre in the town have been put forward, but these have been met with concerns from the campaign group. These concerns include sustainability and practicality as the proposed theatre would have a smaller stage, significantly fewer seats, no fly tower, and limited wing space.

In August, when plans for the new theatre were submitted, Leader of Oldham Council Arooj Shah, said: “This is such an exciting next step for Oldham Coliseum, theatregoers in Oldham and beyond, and everyone involved who has helped bring this new theatre to life.

“As council leader, I’ve made it one of my top priorities to push plans for our new theatre forward as I know how important it is to the people who live here and visit the town.

“We are absolutely committed to working with cultural organisations across Oldham, including the new Coliseum board, for the good of producing theatre in the borough. Oldham has such a fantastic heritage of theatre and production spanning back decades, so it’s important we continue this for future generations.

Dozens of big names from the acting industry have signed the letter. Some of the names to sign the letter are below:

  • Julie Hesmondhalgh

  • Ian Kershaw

  • Dame Sian Philips

  • Dame Vanessa Redgrave

  • Dame Emma Thompson

  • Greg Wise

  • Sir Derek Jacobi

  • Richard Clifford

  • Jim Broadbent

  • Imelda Staunton CBE

  • Jim Carter OBE

  • Dame Maureen Lipman

  • Christopher Eccleston

  • Maxine Peake

  • Brigit Forsyth

  • Sophie Thompson

  • Paul Hilton

  • Anastasia Hille

  • Sir Ian McKellen

  • Suranne Jones

  • Indira Varma

  • Siobhan Finneran

  • Lesley Sharp

  • Nicholas Gleaves

  • Jim Cartwright

  • Jonathan Harvey

  • Sue Johnston

  • Barbara Knox MBE

  • Rufus Norris

  • Sarah Frankcom

  • Dominic Cooke CBE

  • Matthew Warchus

  • Marianne Elliot OBE

  • Nick Sidi

  • Jason Watkins

  • Edward Fox

  • Emilia Fox

  • Freddie Fox

  • Joanna David

  • Matthew Dunster

  • Toby Jones

  • Barrie Rutter

  • Shobna Gulati DL

  • Amanda Holden

  • Sue Nicholls

  • Helen Worth MBE

  • Jimmi Harkishan

  • Sally Dynevor

  • Antony Cotton MBE

  • Mina Anwar

  • David Neilson

  • Tony Gardner

  • Sally Ann Matthews

  • Sue Devaney

  • Con O’Neill

  • Les Dennis

  • Carla Henry

  • Sally Carman

  • Joe Duttine

  • Nicola Stephenson

  • Noreen Kershaw

  • Lynda Rooke

  • Christine Bottomley

  • John Henshaw

  • Colin Snell

  • Andy Hay

  • Jane Hazlegrove

  • Isobel Middleton

  • Kevin McMonagle

  • Raz Shaw

  • Lawrence Till

  • Lindsay Williams

  • Kenneth Alan Taylor

  • Judith Barker

  • Esh Alladi

  • David Fleeshman

  • Sue Jenkins

  • Susan Twist

  • Joyce Branagh

  • Grant Archer

  • Rebekkah Harrison

  • Joe Alessi

  • Sushil Chudasama

  • Mark Chatterton

  • Naomi Radcliffe

  • Annie Wallace

  • Caroline Clegg

  • Clara Darcy

  • Carla Mendoca

  • Eric Potts

  • Rupert Hill

  • Jenny Platt