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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
7th December 1980 Chelsea footballer John Terry was born in Barking.
7th December 1889 Gilbert and Sullivans Gondoliers, premieres in London
7th December 1811 The first Ratcliff Murders occur; of Tim & Celia & Tim Jr Marr at 29 Ratcliff Highway.
7th December 1783 The Theatre Royal first opened in Covent Garden.
The Peacock's Flipper Ghost
The ghost of a dolphin haunts this theatre.
Location: Portugal Street, London
Description: The Peacock Theatre is most noted as the home of one of the West End's most unusual ghosts, a dolphin commonly known as 'Flipper'.
During one of Paul Raymond's revues at the theatre in the 1970s, two dolphins were kept in a 45,000 tank beneath the stage, where they lived permanently and later died from neglect. During the shows, the tanks would be raised up to the stage and the dolphin's would swim around, do some tricks and ultimately remove the bikini from Miss Nude International. The secret? You put a bit of fish on the bra hooks, Raymond explained.
The remnants of the tank and its lifting equipment still remain below the stage and numerous visitors to the theatre claim to have heard a spectral squeaking, not unlike a crying baby when in the vicinity.
One possible explanation is that the London Underground passes very close to the substage areas of the theatre and it is noise from the tunnels that creates the sound.
Although the current building first opened its doors in 1960, there has been a theatre on the site since the 17th century. 'Mrs. Hughes' scandalised the public on 8 December 1660 when she became the first woman actor to take to the stage at the Vere Street Theatre in Clare Market.
Subsequent years saw usage as a TV studio for This Is Your Life and its transformation into a Caribbean paradise for Once On This Island.