A Q&A with Neal Foster: Writer and Director of Terrible Thames and Founder of Birmingham Stage Company

Terrible Thames is the wicked new tour created by the Horrible Histories team. Sailings commence from 17th July 2021 and run daily throughout the Summer from Tower Bridge Quay.

We had a chat with Neal Foster, the Writer and Director of Terrible Thames and Founder of Birmingham Stage Company...


1. Tell us about the show…

It’s going to be the horrible histories of the River Thames, the most famous river in the world. We embark next to Tower Bridge and as we cruise the water, we’ll discover the gruesome, gory, silly, strange and sensational stories that have happened on and around the Thames, featuring characters like King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Queen Boudicca, Captain Kidd and even Jack the Ripper.


2. How did the idea for Terrible Thames come about?

We were approached by Silver Fleet, a family-owned boat company that have worked on the river through generations. They’d just bought back a fabulous boat that their Dad had made and sold some years before and they were thinking of an original way to use it. It suddenly occurred to them that creating a Horrible Histories tour of the river could be wonderful new way to entertain people on the Thames and we were delighted to come on board!


3. How long does a show of this kind take to organise behind the scenes, and what is involved in the process?

All our shows take about a year to create. I had to do a lot of reading and research and worked with Terry Deary, who created Horrible Histories. Terry had great ideas for the tour and we worked on it throughout the pandemic. I then set about finding the actors and we’ve been lucky to bring together a hugely talented group of performers. They will work together in pairs for each trip and they’re going to be brilliant in bringing these terrible tales to life.


4. In the current situation, has it been challenging making it happen?

We were supposed to open the show last year, but everything changed when the pandemic started. Even auditioning the actors meant everyone had to be tested before we could meet them. But it did give us more time than we would normally have had to research and learn about the river.


5. Give us 5 reasons to see Terrible Thames…

You’ll hear amazing stories from history you’ve never heard before
You’ll get to cruise on the most horribly historical stretch of water in the world
You’ll get to sing wonderful sea shanties with our fabulous actors
You’ll want to explore lots of places up and down London after hearing its horrible history
You’ll be very glad to escape alive from Execution Dock!


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