Hey, Jude. Never mind. At least your face matches your slippers

Monday 4 August 2008

Many thanks to Samira for drawing our attention to this piece in The Observer about some apparent underhand shenanigans aimed at reversing the fortunes of the South Bank Centre’s production of The Wizard of Oz (sample quote from Sam Marlow in The Times: “The real crowd-pleaser is Bobby the Westie, as Dorothy’s beloved dog Toto who displays a playfulness and spontaneity lacking elsewhere in Jude Kelly’s production”).

Anyway, here’s the story:

There were few friends for Dorothy on the discussion board of Whatsonstage.com, the leading online forum for ordinary theatregoers. One guest, ‘Tom’, described the show as ‘lazy, unimaginative, and possibly slightly arrogant’.

Then, as if by magic, the mood changed. Three posts expressed surprise at the criticism and lavished praise on the show. There was only one snag – the gushing paeans were written by staff at the Southbank Centre; just 75 minutes later, they were caught red-handed. A beady-eyed moderator noticed that the three rave reviews had all come from computers that shared the same IP address, the code that identifies an internet connection.

The Southbank Centre, which receives public funding, has admitted that three staff posted the reviews and the matter is being investigated. It denied they had been acting under instructions from the producers of the show, which is directed by Jude Kelly, who is also artistic director of the centre.

5 Responses to “Hey, Jude. Never mind. At least your face matches your slippers”


  1. Yikes, that’s pretty bad. It’s one thing for amateur productions to do a bit of self promotion but actually writing their own reviews? They’d be better off paying someone to write a good review. Equally unethical but less likely they’d get caught!

  2. webcowgirl Says:

    I gotta say considering what a pile of poo this show is, I can’t really blame them for trying to make it smell just a little less. You guys were wise to skip this. My review of this turkey here (tempted to say “this dog” but didn’t want to malign Toto!).

  3. Jenny Says:

    As the mod that caught them doing this, I must say that I’m a bit surprised. Did they really think that we don’t check on stuff like this when, after a deluge of negative opinions, three extremely positive anonymous posts suddenly appear within minutes of one another? All of which I could very quickly trace back through their IP addresses to the South Bank Centre…

    Oh well, I guess they won’t be doing this again anytime soon…


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