Theatre News

V&A Museum acquire Tommy Cooper collection

The collection, which includes his ‘gag file’ and magic tricks, will be displayed in the autumn

A signed photograph of Tommy Cooper, and a photo of Cooper's 'gag file'
A signed photograph of Tommy Cooper, and a photo of Cooper's 'gag file'
© The Tommy Cooper Estate. Photograph: Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The V&A Museum has acquired the largest collection of Tommy Cooper memorabilia, tracing the life and legacy of the comedy legend.

One of the centerpieces of the collection is Cooper's 'gag file' – his system for meticulously storing jokes only a small percentage of which he actually performed. It also includes documents relating to the inner workings of his career, such as contracts which date back to 1946, and some he was not able to fulfill following his sudden passing in 1984.

There are also insights into Cooper's magic act, such as his infamous 'Head Twister' illusion, and other memorabilia including posters, personal correspondence and theatre programmes.

Cooper's daughter, Vicky Cooper, said the acquisition was "wonderful".

She said: "I hope it brings as much enjoyment to people as he did when he was alive. My dad would be very proud knowing he was now represented in the National Collection of Theatre and Performance, sitting alongside the likes of Ronnie Barker’s archive and costumes worn by Morecambe and Wise and Stan Laurel."

The selection of the objects will go on public display in the autumn (dates to be confirmed).