Former Gang Show producer shares experiences

Gang Show producers past and present: David Barker and Hermione Drew.

Gang Show producers past and present: David Barker and Hermione Drew. - Credit: St Albans Gang Show

The Herts Ad caught up with former producer and general Gang Show legend David Barker to chat about his experiences and thoughts about the cancellation of this year's show...

Were you sad to see GS cancelled this year? 

Absolutely. The Gang Show plays such an important role in the life of our local community and for many of the team involved it has become a truly cherished part of their everyday life. For over 40 years the show has touched the lives of thousands of people bringing with it so much joy, happiness and friendship to so many - young and old alike. When something like that suddenly disappears, it leaves a huge hole – and February 2021 will feel empty without it.  

Are you proud of Hermione and how it's been managed since you handed over the producer's scarf? 

Easiest question of the lot – yes, yes, yes! 

When I handed over the producer's scarf to Hermione at the end of the 2012 show I knew the show was in very safe hands and would continue to go from strength to strength. The Gang Show is the most wonderful feel good machine fuelled by the combined creative talent, determination and ambition of over 120 adult volunteers – not to mention of course over 100 local young people every year!

Hermione and the team continue to build on the tremendous legacy we have in St Albans for delivering a world class show year on year - I am honoured to still be involved and super proud of what we all continue to achieve together. 

Most Read

What are your top three favourite memories? 

Gosh what an impossible question – there are hundreds of highlights to choose from! If I had to boil it down to three things I would say that my best memories are: 

The unique sense of camaraderie, friendship and collective determination from everyone involved – from the youngest cast member to the oldest member of the Gang Show team.  

The thrill, excitement and atmosphere of show week (both behind and in front of the curtain). There is nothing quite like the atmosphere that a live performance brings particularly when you are working as part of a world class team. It’s like winning a gold medal every night! 

The friendship – The Gang Show has given me so many happy times and many of my closest friends today are people I met as a result of my involvement in the Gang Show. It creates lasting friendships and lifelong memories.  

How important is this kind of thing for young people's mental well-being?

Until recently, I hadn’t fully appreciated how important and impactful an activity like the Gang Show (or Scouting and Guiding) is for the mental well-being of young people today. In 2019, I became CEO of Youth Talk, a charity that supports young people struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.

Having a sense of belonging, acceptance and purpose in life are such vital components in a young person’s life – not to mention the importance of friendship, fun and family. The Gang Show (and Scouting more widely) provides this in heaps not just to its young people but also to every adult volunteer.  

What would you say to anyone feeling a bit low during lockdown? 

If you are feeling low during lockdown the first thing I'd say is to connect with someone you trust and talk to them. It might be a relative, a friend or a professional but talking to someone can really help - it's a difficult time and we can all help each other through. And then I'd suggest digging out a copy of an old Gang Show (or visiting the Vimeo channel), putting your feet up, turning it up loud and delighting in the joy, sparkle and feel good magic that is St Albans Gang Show.