As we head into November 2020 the reality is dawning on many members of the Gang that for the first time in 60 years there will be no Gang Show in Edinburgh this year. The curtain first rose on the Edinburgh Gang Show at 7.30pm on Monday 14th November 1960 at the King’s Theatre. The pioneering leaders who established the show must have had no inkling that the Edinburgh Gang Show would over later years involve hundreds of young people annually, entertain audiences of thousands of people, be acknowledged by royalty, commended by political and civic leaders, praised by all Chief Scouts from Charles Maclean to Bear Grylls and every UK, Scottish, County/Area/Regional Commissioner as well as being lauded by Gang Shows across the world as one of the premier shows.

They also would have had no inkling that it would take a global pandemic to halt the tradition of Scouts and Guides taking to the stage each year to work together, make new friends, grow in confidence, have fun and bring their talent to a wider audience.

Even in January/February 2020, with the memories of the 60th show still fresh in our minds, the leaders of today would have had no inkling of how the world was going to change later in the year. The month of March was a frightening period as it became clear of the scale of the coronavirus and the impact to every aspect of our lives. We observed Gang Shows up and down the country and overseas having to cancel at short notice with some just about to open or move into their theatres.

Sadly, in May the decision was made to cancel the Edinburgh Gang Show 2020 and turn our attention to offering an alternative production to engage our young people and adults. With the gradual return of face-to-face Scouting a huge effort was made to devise and arrange a production, prepare risk assessments and have them approved. “All our eyes” were not on the horizon but instead on the developing and changing guidelines issued by government, Scouts and Girlguiding. The Gang met via Zoom and the professional orchestra met to record soundtracks in a socially distanced recording session which was managed by industry professionals.

However, regrettably, we have had to postpone our Virtual Edinburgh Gang Show 2020 planned for November. Additional measures announced by The Scottish Government on Wednesday 7 October included the directive that performing arts activities must not take place outdoors in the central belt area, which included the Lothian Health Board, between 10 – 26 October. This period covered our planned outdoor rehearsals, COVID-secure vocal recording sessions and filming of the Virtual Edinburgh Gang Show.

A huge amount of work has been undertaken to get to this stage and it is our hope that when the circumstances allow, we will bring this unique opportunity back.

Reflecting on the announcement made on 11 October Andy Johnston, Gang Show Director said: “We are totally gutted that the virtual show has been postponed, but supporting the Scottish Government’s new measures, reducing the spread of the virus and keeping everyone safe must be our top priorities. The main purpose of the virtual show was to allow us to get together, work as a Gang and produce a piece of work that would showcase both our brilliant cast and our amazing capital city. This purpose has not changed and work will continue to make this happen when it is safe to do so. We’ll be back!!”

Alan Hunter, Regional Adviser (Gang Show) said: “We are bitterly disappointed not to be able to continue with our virtual Show but will keep an eye on all the regulations and hopefully continue with it when it is safe to do so, even if it’s early next year”.

When the time is right, the Gang will reunite, put on our red neckies, and once again instead of looking at COVID restrictions “All Our Eyes” will be on the distant horizon.

Scott Walker
Edinburgh Gang Show