Yorkshire Day, TV licences and new cast for West End's Phantom of the Opera - Week Ahead

Celebrations for Yorkshire Day, a final call to over-75s for new TV licence rules and a famous musical re-opens with new cast members. John Blow looks at the week ahead.

Andrew Lloyd Webber. Picture: Nigel French/PA.

Organisations will be hoping to capitalise on Yorkshire Day after the lifting of restrictions.

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The annual day of celebration takes place next Sunday, with events planned around the region.

York is the official host of this year’s event, having been the first to do so in 1985 and again in 2000, though the events roots go back to 1975.

It was later decided – at a meeting of local authorities within the boundary of the old county of Yorkshire (the three ridings and York) and The Yorkshire Society at County Hall, Wakefield in 1985 – there would be an annual civic gathering of Mayors, Lord Mayors, their attendants and other dignitaries “in full costume and regalia”.

Its date alludes to the regimental anniversary of the Battle of Minden on August 1 and the wearing of roses in the headdress on that day. In the case of the Light Infantry, successors to the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, a white rose.

The date is also the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, for which a Yorkshire MP, William Wilberforce, campaigned.

Councillor Janet Looker, the current Lord Mayor of York, has previously said “we are delighted that York has been selected as the host for the 2021 event. York is an incredible city, with a rich and diverse history. As the historic centre of the Three Ridings it has played a truly unique role in the long an exciting story of Yorkshire and we are thrilled to play such an important part in celebrating Yorkshire Day.”

TV take-back

The transition period will finish next week for those who need to make arrangements before the end of free TV licences for all over-75s.

Pensioners were given a grace period because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the BBC has confirmed this will come to an end on Saturday, July 31.

The BBC was to write to the 260,000 pensioners who are yet to pay, the corporation said last month.

The universal right to a free TV licence has ended for the age group and only those in receipt of pension credit do not have to pay. The corporation said more than nine in 10 over-75s households have now made arrangements for a free or paid licence, or updated it on changes in their circumstances, which is in line with the broader UK population.

It means that anyone who watches or records live television programmes on any channel, or downloads or watches BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer, must be covered by a valid TV licence.

BBC director-general Tim Davie previously signalled that over-75s will not be threatened with legal action over non-payment.

West End return

The Phantom Of The Opera musical will re-open in the West End on Tuesday.

The show will have an entirely new cast for the first time in 35 years at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Haymarket. Killian Donnelly, Lucy St Louis and Rhys Whitfield will be performing the show’s main roles of The Phantom, Christine Daaé and Raoul respectively.

It comes after Andrew Lloyd-Webber, who wrote the music for the production, spoke about he pandemic’s effect on theatre.

He accused the Government of “idiocy” after the “blunt instrument” of its self-isolation rules resulted in the cancellation of performances of another of his West End shows, Cinderella. He said last week the current system is “completely, completely untenable” and his industry has been left “on its knees”.

A Government spokeswoman had previously defended the support given to the arts and culture, saying the sector has been given “unprecedented” backing.