Dora Bryan

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I am the curator of the new exhibition celebrating the career of actress and musical comedy star Dora Bryan who this year is celebrating her 91st birthday. Dora and her family have given me access to the vast Dora Bryan archive comprising scrapbooks, costumes and the awards that Dora received throughout her massively successful 71 year career. The result is “Dora Bryan, Miss Showbusiness – A Celebration!” which opened at The Grange Art Gallery & Museum, Rottingdean (near Brighton), East Sussex on Friday 13th September 2013 with a private view which was attended by Dora, her family and showbiz friends. Dora was in remarkable form that night and a review of that evening including Dora’s comments is included below.

For a taste of some of Dora’s performances please see our Dora Bryan Jukebox

The BBC have been incredibly supportive locally which resulted in a radio interview on BBC Radio Sussex & Surrey on Thursday 12th September 2013 with myself and Dora’s sons William and Daniel (follow the link provided below) and TV coverage of Dora at the private view on Friday 13th September 2013 by BBC South East.

There also follows a written appreciation of Dora Bryan, OBE by exhibition contributor, the journalist and showbiz critic Michael Thornton.

BBC RADIO SUSSEX & SURREY INTERVIEW – Dora’s son’s Daniel, William and myself being interviewed by Danny Pike about Dora and the exhibition on Thursday 12th September 2013, the day before the private view with Dora.

BBC TV SOUTH EAST COVERAGE OF DORA AT THE EXHIBITION – An overview of the exhibition and Dora and myself talking to camera about the exhibition at the Private View on Friday 13th September 2013.


On Friday 13th September 2013 actress Dora Bryan OBE – Our Dora – who has become both a national treasure and an entertainment legend was joined by her sons William and Daniel, grandchildren and friends for the Private View of “Dora Bryan, Miss Showbusiness – A Celebration!” an exhibition on her life’s work at The Grange Art Gallery & Museum, Rottingdean. Asked by BBC television who covered the event what she thought to the exhibition she replied: Excellent, the whole thing is so good. It’s a great tribute, it really is!

Dora, now 91 years young was recalling an incredible 71 year career showered with honours including the British Academy Award which she received for her performance in the film A Taste of Honey in 1962, the Olivier Award in 1994 for her outstanding performance in Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party, and in 1996 Her Majesty The Queen conferred on Dora the Order of the British Empire for her distinguished and outstanding services to entertainment.

From her early success in London Revues which included At The lyric (1951) and Living For Pleasure (1958), Dora turned to musical comedy as the West End star of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1961) and Hello Dolly! (1966), and for many years she has been a much loved film actress starring in a string of fondly remembered British comedies including The Great St. Trinian’s Train Robbery with Frankie Howard (1966), You Lucky People with Tommy Trinder (1955), Carry On Sergeant, the first of the classic Carry On films (1958) and The Night We Got The Bird with Brian Rix (1961). Dora later played at the National Theatre and added plays by Shaw, Jonson and Sheridan to her extensive repertoire, and made her Broadway début in 1987 playing alongside Peter O’Toole in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. More recently she appeared in the BBC’s Last Of The Summer Wine and Absolutely Fabulous.

Dora and her family can look back with pride on a career that has touched the heights, and also the hearts of her millions of admirers, amply justifying the title Exhibition Curator Marcus Bagshaw is proud to give her in this tribute to her life and work – Miss Showbusiness.

Marcus Bagshaw said: Miss Bryan has not only lent us all of her awards for the exhibition, but also her sequin-bedecked costumes and personal scrap books, which go right back to her childhood, and are an absolute treasure trove of theatrical memorabilia.

Dora Bryan, Miss Showbusiness – A Celebration! runs at The Grange Art Gallery & Museum, Rottingdean, East Sussex until April 2015. Open Mon to Fri 10.30am to 4.30pm, Sat 10.30am to 4.30pm, Sun 1.30pm to 4.30pm. Closed Wed. Admission Free.

For enquires please call the Exhibition Curator Marcus Bagshaw on 07826 236827.