The Stage reports that after a long campaign led by actress Julie Hesmonhalgh, the Coliseum Theatre Oldham has been saved from closure. Great news. This was where the world premiere of Alfie the Musical took place before going on to Coventry and Watford. It was also where I cut my teeth as actor, once working with Anne Kirkbride, soon to be Coronation Street’s Deidre Barlow. When we were in a play in which her character had to play the piano, one of the few skills she didn’t have, a music student was employed to play offstage, the cue light activated by Anne pressing middle C. The student wasn’t always as diligent as he might have been. At several performances Anne and I were forced to improvise dialogue while she bashed middle C in vain and the stage manager went to find the student. On one occasion Anne  got carried away with her improvisation and strode centre stage – at which point the piano started playing.