Politicos were out in force last night (1 March 2007, previews from 22 February) at the New Ambassadors theatre for the West End premiere of Whipping It Up, Steve Thompson’s new political comedy in which Richard Wilson and Robert Bathurst star as Whips in a new Tory government on the evening of a leadership challenge.

Newscasters Jon Snow and Andrew Marr as well as Parliamentarians Kenneth Clarke, Betty Boothroyd, Jeffrey Archer and Baroness Amos (former Whip, now leader of the House of Lords, who was the first black woman to sit in the Cabinet) were all in attendance along with other showbusiness celebrities including Ronnie Corbett, Catherine Tate, James Purefoy, Ian McKellen, Sian Thomas and Christopher Biggins (the butt of a running joke in the play).

It's a week before Christmas, and the new Tory government is facing dissent over its latest bill. With a majority of only three, the Whip's office is out in full force, and they'll stop at nothing to keep the strays in line. But they're in for a long night: boy scouts are rioting in Whitehall, the PM's golfing with the President, five Tory rebels are on the loose and the Chief Whip's playing at Santa. Could this be the beginnings of a leadership challenge?

Wilson and Bathurst are joined in the cast by Lee Ross, Nicholas Rowe, Helen Schlesinger (Best Supporting Actress in this year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards for The Crucible) and Kellie Bright.

The political satire premiered in November at west London’s 100-seat Bush Theatre (See News, 12 Jul 2006), where it had an extended, sell-out pre-Christmas run and was nominated for Best New Comedy in the Whatsonstage.com Awards. In the West End, it’s directed by Tamara Harvey, after the original production by Terry Johnson, designed by Tim Shortall and presented by ACT Productions, Matthew Byam Shaw, Mark Goucher, Lee Menzies and Wimpole Theatre.

TO VIEW THE WHIPPING IT UP OPENING NIGHT TV FOOTAGE, JUST CLICK
ON THE "PLAY" ARROW > BUTTON TO THE LEFT OF THE TV SCREEN BELOW.

CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS NOW

For Whatsonstage.com TV, we were on hand for the curtain call at the New Ambassadors and the post-show party at the Long Acre. Our TV interviewees include: cast members Richard Wilson, Robert Bathurst, Helen Schlesinger and Nicholas Rowe, author Steve Thompson, director Tamara Harvey and first night guests including Jon Snow, Andrew Marr, Jeffrey Archer, Ronnie Corbett, Mel Kenyon and Rome star James Purefoy.

- by Terri Paddock