Theatreland Tour with Ian McKellen
Turn right on Crown Court
This is where you turn right, through these barriers.
Many villians have passed through the cells here at Bow Street Magistrates Court. The murderer Dr Crippen, the gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray, and more recently, the politicians Jonathan Aitken and Jeffrey Archer.
And another reluctant visitor to Bow Street was the playwright Oscar Wilde. In 1895 he came before a judge and accused of committing indecent acts. These days, you and I might call them acts of love, though had we said that at the time we might have ended up in the dock ourselves. The judge described Wilde’s case as the worst he’d ever seen and he handed down two years’ hard labour.
Now, you’re going straight on here. So, ingnore the turnings to the left and to the right. Straight on.
Where was I? Oh yes, not only was Oscar Wilde imprisoned but his name was removed from outside two of theatres in the West End where his plays were running. An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Ernest suddenly had no author. And you know the same thing happened on Broadway, in New York? And all with hardly a peep from the theatrical world, or from the public of either country.
Head all the way down this alley until you reach the road up ahead.