Inverness Area Gang Show
Starring members of Inverness Area Scout and Guide Groups

Inverness Area Gang Show

Ralph Reader was born in Crewkerne in Somerset on May 25, 1903. As a young man, he moved to America where he became a leading light on Broadway. It was there that he developed his performing, writing, directing, dancing and other theatrical skills that rightly earned him the title 'The Kid Dance Director".

It was during his time in New York that he worked with the legendary Al Jolson, who had the greatest impact on his life in the theatre.

In 1928, he returned to Britain and starred in the musical 'Good News'. Ralph specialised in choreography and directed the ensemble for many large West End shows, including musicals presented by Ivor Novello at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. He also created the dances for a few film musicals in the 1930's starring the great Jessie Matthews.
During WWII, he was the creator and driving force behind the famous RAF Gang Shows, from which graduated a string of stars such as Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock, Dick Emery and many more.

Despite all this fame and fortune, he remained a loyal member of the Scout Movement. It was in 1932 when his life changed forever when he produced the first Gang Show, entitled "The Gang's all Here!" This one-off fundraising event for the London Scout Council's campsite (Downe) rapidly grew into a world-wide network of Gang Shows that we all recognise and love today.

It is often said that, "every night of the year, somewhere in the world a Gang Show is playing".

Over the years, Ralph wrote hundreds of songs and numerous sketches that are used by Gang Shows everywhere. In 1974, Ralph, a man in his 70's, decided it was time to slow down and wrote and produced the 'Farewell London Gang Show', which was staged at the Gaumont State Theatre, London, to packed houses and tremendous acclaim.

Many awards and presentations were bestowed on Ralph throughout his life in recognition of his commitment to Scouting and to the world of entertainment. Some of these awards included the MBE and subsequently the CBE. He was made a Honorary Citizen of the State of Illinois in 1961, and was awarded the Bronze Wolf from the World Scout Association in 1975.

Ralph died in 1982, but his everlasting legacy is the Gang Show. Ralph's unmistakable style of writing and the talent of Scouts and Guides the world over prove that the greatest youth entertainment the world has ever known continues to keep "riding along on the crest of a wave" wherever, whenever, a Gang Show is performed.

Ralph Reader CBE