Could Britain's most at risk theatre still be saved, or is it curtains for the Brighton Hippodrome?

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's Andy Dickenson

The stars that have crossed its stage are almost too many to mention, from Sammy Davis Jr to The Beatles, Houdini, Chaplin and the Rolling Stones to Laurel and Hardy, yet the Brighton Hippodrome remains in ruin.

But all hope is not quite lost, as developers who took over a year ago are now trying to save and transform it even at this desperate last hour.

Credit: ITV News Meridian

A forest of scaffolding now keeps it from collapsing, but it remains at the top of the Theatre Trust's list of the country's theatres most at risk.

Derelict for close to two decades, it was once a marvel of the English stage that saw Olivier's debut performance.

Later becoming a circus and an ice rink, its since been planned as a cinema, restaurant and hotel, all to no avail. The current model, a theatre transformed with a hotel attached. 

In its last incarnation, the Hippodrome was used as a bingo hall. Some of its seating, from then, remains. Credit: ITV News Meridian

However, the Hippodrome is not the only theatre at risk in our region - that national list having grown by a third over Covid.

It now includes: Margate's Theatre Royal, The Roundhouse in Dover, The Thameside in Thurrock, Portsmouth's Groundlings Theatre, and Clare Hall in Haywards Heath. 

Crucially, Theatres Trust Director Jon Morgan says all of them have the potential to be revived - with the right support.

With a budget of around £10 million and dreams of opening in two years - a million pounds has already been spent on the Hippodrome.

There's certainly a very long way to go, but hopes are as high as they've been for some time that this Grade II* listed masterpiece could yet be one of the country's theatres that survives.