About Ration Book Britain

Ration Book Britain looks at how cabaret, comedy, music and film were central in keeping up the spirits of a nation under the stress and strain of war

Anita Dobson

Ration Book Britain: Entertaining The Home Front, takes a closer look at how the nation kept itself entertained and uplifted during the darkest days of the war.

In pre-war Britain, televisions were a rarity and most people visited the cinema, theatre or music halls. But in September 1939, with constant threat from bombing raids, the government made the decision to close down cinemas and theatres across the land. It wasn’t long before they realised that these venues were crucial in keeping morale high and helping maintain a sense of normality. We’ll find out that they also acted as a perfect platform for propaganda – giving rise to some truly bizarre public information films.

Entertaining The Home Front will also delve behind the blackout curtains to discover the riotous display of dancing, cabaret, laughter and live music that was playing out in theatres, dance halls and picture houses across the nation.

From London Windmill Theatre – home to Mrs Henderson’s famous semi-naked chorus girls – to the likes of Vera Lynn, George Formby, Gracie Fields and Flanaghan and Allen, Ration Book Britain: Entertaining The Home Front shows that the British wartime entertainment industry played a vital role in keeping up the country’s spirits and produced some of our best loved films, radio shows, and personalities.