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Bennett's History Boys tops ETT poll, Stoppard and Butterworth also feature

The popular 2004 play has been voted the 'Nation's Favourite' in a poll by English Touring Theatre

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The original cast of The History Boys reunited during last month's National Theatre 50th gala
© Catherine Ashmore

Alan Bennett's The History Boys has been voted the Nation's Favourite Play.

The 2004 play, which is set in a Sheffield grammar school, came top of a poll commissioned by English Touring Theatre to establish "what the nation most wants to see".

Second place went to Michael Frayn's farce Noises Off, with Shakespeare's Hamlet in third. The top ten also features Tom Stoppard's Arcadia and Jez Butterworth's Jerusalem.

Some of the favourites will be staged by English Touring Theatre in 2014 to mark the company's 21st anniversary.

1. The History Boys by Alan Bennett
2. Noises Off by Michael Frayn
3. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
4. Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
5. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
6. Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth
7. An Inspector Calls by J B Priestley
8. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
9. Macbeth by William Shakespeare
10. King Lear by William Shakespeare

ETT's director Rachel Tackley said, "Over 1400 plays featured in the results which is astonishing and speaks volumes about the health of British theatre and the variety on offer to audiences. It's wonderful that two such glorious playwrights as Alan Bennett and Michael Frayn sit alongside Shakespeare at the top of the list.

"I'm very much looking forward to announcing how, where and when English Touring Theatre will be presenting the most popular productions across the country."

Regional variation

Voters were asked whereabouts in the country they were from in order to establish different trends and patterns in people's theatre taste across the country. The most voted-for plays in each region are:

East of England – The History Boys by Alan Bennett
London & The South East – Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth
The Midlands – The History Boys by Alan Bennett
North East – The History Boys by Alan Bennett
North West – The History Boys by Alan Bennett
South West – Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Scotland – An Inspector Calls by J B Priestley
Wales – Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
Northern Ireland – Hamlet by William Shakespeare