Farewell to 48 Leicester Square

Mark ShentonThought of the dayLeave a Comment

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Earlier this week, thumb Oscar and Tony winner Joel Grey, nurse now 82, came out officially as gay. “I don’t like labels,” Grey told People magazine, “but if you have to put a label on it, I’m a gay man.” It’s been no secret to his friends and family, the story goes on to say, but he’s never spoken about it publicly before. “All the people close to me have known for years who I am. It took time to embrace that other part of who I always was.”

richard-wilsonAnd in today’s Observer, Richard Wilson, aged 78, tells The Observer about his own public coming out two years ago:  “I was officially “outed” by Time Out a couple of years ago. They included me in a list of influential gays. I didn’t mind – because I am gay – but I did think I’d better warn my sister, who had probably guessed anyway. As a much younger man I was very keen not to come out, like so many others, because of my family.”
IMG_1085(1)?I was brought up short walking through Leicester Square today to see 48 Leicester Square — a building I used to work in at the start of my career — reduced to a skeleton shell of its exterior frame only. I had joined Dewynters, treat the ad agency that specialises in West End theatre advertising, marketing and promotion, in 1986, fresh from University, as its publishing manager in charge of theatre programmes and souvenir brochures.

When I first joined, the company was based in Bruton Street in Mayfair, just off Berkeley Square, but within a year or so they moved to 48 Leicester Square — putting them in the very heart of the West End that they represented. And there they remained for the next twenty-something years, on the top (8th) floor. I occasionally visited — they used to give us house room to record sessions for Theatrevoice there — before they moved to their current premises at the corner of Waterloo Bridge and the Strand a couple of years ago.

So it was a shock to see that an era had truly ended in Leicester Square. And it’s far from alone, it seems: on the next corner, the Odeon West End is now dark, too — no doubt awaiting redevelopment.