Hobson’s Choice

A Lancashire comedy by English playwright Harold Brighouse, written in 1914. Originally produced in the USA. First produced in the UK at the Apollo Theatre, London, June 1916.Famous though the play is, the saying ‘Hobson’s choice’ predates it by three centuries, deriving from the practices of Thomas Hobson, a Cambridge liveryman who gave his customers no choice of horse but the next one available — hence not really a choice at all. Brighouse borrowed the title from his friend and fellow playwright Stanley Houghton, who died suddenly before he could use it.

The play is one of the finest works from the Manchester School of Dramatists, which was formed from 1909. The School was part of the so-called ‘repertory movement’, which took serious and professional theatre to the major cities outside London at the beginning of the 20th century. The School’s authors, of which Brighouse was a leading member, depicted in their plays a world foreign to the upper classes of polite London society: a mainly working-class world where people spoke in Lancashire dialects.

Brighouse began writing the play shortly after the outbreak of World War I. There is much in the play that is at least partly autobiographical. For example, he set it in 1880, the year his parents had decided to marry. The stage setting was to an exact reproduction of the actual cobbler’s shop in Eccles his mother had taken him to as a child to buy boots. The character of Maggie was heavily based on his sister Hilda.

Performed by BATS at St. Teilo’s Church Hall, Bishopston on 19th, 20th, 25th, 26th & 27th November, 2004. Tickets £4, senior citizens £3.


The scene is the heavy-industrial city of Salford, Lancashire, 1880. “Henry Hobson, widower and boot-shop proprietor, twits his daughter Maggie on her being past the marrying age. Maggie retaliates by marrying Hobson’s best boot-hand, Will Mossup, and turning this retiring youth into a sturdy fellow whose new confidence makes him a real business rival to Hobson. Bowing to the circumstances, Hobson has no choice but to accept Will as partner in the new firm of ‘Mossup and Hobson’.” (Samuel French, publishers)


  • Alan Bailey

Cast (in order of appearance)

  • ‘Alice Hobson’ ~ Sian Cole
  • ‘Maggie Hobson’ ~ Helen Gallagher
  • ‘Vickey Hobson’ ~ Carol Rood
  • ‘Albert Prosser’ ~ Jaimes Cooper
  • ‘(Henry Horatio) Hobson’ ~ David Spear
  • ‘Mrs Hepworth’ ~ Alison Shepherd
  • ‘(Timothy) Tubby Wadlow’ ~ Keith Gwynn
  • ‘Willie Mossop’ ~ Ian Evans
  • ‘Jim Heeler’ ~ Barry Cooper
  • ‘Ada Figgins’ ~ Denise Currell
  • ‘Freddy Beenstock’ ~ Tony Currell
  • ‘Dr MacFarlane’ ~ Stewart Hiorns


  • Stage Manager ~ Alan Bailey
  • Assistants ~ Simon Ellett, Tony Currell, Denise Currell, Dorothy Morris, Barry Cooper, Heather Cooper
  • Prompts ~ Alison Shepherd, Stewart Hiorns
  • Props ~ Julie Greenwood, Janet Thissen
  • Costumes ~ Laura Sims
  • Make-up ~ Julie Greenwood & the cast
  • Front-of-house, Refreshments ~ Barbara Spear, Maureen Bailey, Dorothy Morris, Geoff Davies, Doreen Davies, Val Hiorns, Linda Culverwell, Lynne Turner, Heather Cooper

Director’s Note

Welcome to our November production of “Hobson’s Choice” in the newly renovated Church Hall. This is the first time I have directed a play and have only ever appeared in one production (to say only two words!). But I have been looking after the technical side of our productions for longer than I care to remember. I am lucky to have such a talented team of actors to call upon, plus, of course, the hard working team backstage.

While you’re reading these notes, please spare a thought for the cast when they’re backstage. I’ve watched them over the years and it never ceases to amaze me that they keep coming back for more! Before the curtain goes up, some of them will be walking up and down, clutching their script like a comfort blanket. Others will be sitting quietly in a corner looking pale. But everything changes when the curtain goes up and they hear the first laugh. The nervous shaking stops and they grow in stature as they take you into the world they have created on stage. When it’s all over and they’ve had their curtain call, everyone’s congratulating each other and eagerly anticipating the next production!

If you want to join us please come along. Personally I would like to see more people to help with the technical side (lighting, set construction, effects) even if you have no experience – I didn’t when I joined BATS! Now, sit back and enjoy Harold Brighouse’s “Hobson’s Choice”, which, though written in 1916 and set in 1880, presents themes that are still relevant today.


Half the cast Standing, left to right: David Spear ("Hobson"), Carol Rood ("Vickey"), Sian Cole ("Alice"), Ian Evans ("William"). Front, left to right: Alison Shepherd ("Mrs Hepworth"), Helen Gallagher ("Maggie").

Half the cast
Standing, left to right: David Spear (“Hobson”), Carol Rood (“Vickey”), Sian Cole (“Alice”), Ian Evans (“William”).
Front, left to right: Alison Shepherd (“Mrs Hepworth”), Helen Gallagher (“Maggie”).

The other half of the cast Left to right: Keith Gwynn ("Tubby"), Denise Currell ("Ada"), Tony Currell ("Freddy"), Stewart Hiorns ("Dr MacFarlane"), Jaimes Cooper ("Albert"), Barry Cooper ("Jim").

The other half of the cast
Left to right: Keith Gwynn (“Tubby”), Denise Currell (“Ada”), Tony Currell (“Freddy”), Stewart Hiorns (“Dr MacFarlane”), Jaimes Cooper (“Albert”), Barry Cooper (“Jim”).