The Story of Gang Show

Gang Show had its beginning in England in 1932 by a young Rover Scout, Ralph Reader, who was making a name for himself in theatrical circles. In fact, Ralph was already a famous and sought after choreographer on Broadway – but his life took a remarkable twist after he wrote and produced the first Gang Show to raise money for a local swimming pool. Recognising the worth of this form of training, Baden-Powell encouraged Reader to continue. He did – and went on to establish the world famous London Gang Show tradition, as well as writing the words and music to hundreds of songs and sketches, including the world famous song “We’re Riding Along on the Crest of a Wave” (1934).

From that small beginning, the Gang Show has become one of the traditions of Scouting and has given Royal Command performances – the only amateur act to ever receive this honour.

Sir Harry Secombe, Sir Richard Attenborough, Peter Sellers, Darryl Stewart, Max Bygraves, Spike Milligan, Norrie Paramour, Dick Emery, Tony Hancock and many other stage and film stars were involved in Gang Shows early in their careers and have contributed in building the Gang Show tradition.

Gang Shows then spread quickly to many other countries around the world . It is often said that a Gang Show is playing somewhere in the world every night of the year !



The Ralph Reader Memorial Fund was established after his death in 1982. Its aim is to offer financial assistance to any member of the Scout and Guide movements, in particular, young people who want to enter the theatrical profession or take part in a special activity, such as the World Jamboree. To date, over 43,000 pounds has been granted from the Fund.


What Is a Gangshow

Gang Show is an amateur theatrical performance, generally of a high standard, where the cast is made up of principally youth members of Scouts and Guides and a minority of adult leaders. The aim of the shows is to give young people in Scouting and Guiding the opportunity to develop performance skills and perform in a close to professional theatrical environment. Opportunities are also afforded to young people to work backstage, in front of house roles, and to perform as musicians in the show’s musical items and in the orchestra.

Generally, youth members, adult leaders and volunteer helpers have to participate in many hours of planning, writing, composing, choreographing, building stage scenery and props, and making costumes stretching over several months before the actual performances. In order to reach what is perceived to be the required performance standard for a Gang Show, a high level of commitment is needed from all involved in the production and, to a marginally lesser extent, their families.

Frequently performances take place in commercial theatres (such as the Wilde Theatre, Bracknell) over several days and are attended by the general public as well as participants’ friends and families and other scouters and guiders.

Not withstanding the amateur nature of the Gang Show, the cost of mounting a show with acceptable production values capable of attracting the ticket buying public has required some shows to become quite commercial in character with financial sponsorship being canvassed from business houses and governments.