Writer of hit show attacks touts who sell on tickets at top prices

  • @robhastings

The writer of the acclaimed play One Man Two Guvnors has attacked agencies running "legal ticket touting" websites for ripping off audiences and harming theatre companies.

Richard Bean, whose hit play recently transferred to the Theatre Royal Haymarket with Owain Arthur replacing James Corden in the lead, said efforts by theatres to provide cheaper tickets "to appeal to a broad audience" were being "undermined by secondary ticket touting". Touting is illegal for football matches but lawful for other events.

Decrying the fact that tickets being re-sold online were often "twice the price of what they should be," Bean said: "There might be the odd person who can't go to a show that they have bought tickets for, but we all know the truth is that people are making money out of it.

"If people unconsciously start to think that tickets to a West End show are expensive, they stop thinking about going," he added. He said people "shouldn't be happy to pay more" for tickets for in-demand shows. "What they're basically saying is they're endorsing secondary ticket sales, and it's people who have more money than sense and are quite happy to pay £200 for a ticket. That's not what we wrote this show for."

Sarah Hunt, marketing manager at the National Theatre – who has been known to police the queue for last-minute tickets to ensure they are not immediately touted at vastly inflated prices – backed Bean's comments. "Our head of box office is having to act like a detective quite often," she said. "We had one case where One Man Two Guvnors transferred to the Adelphi theatre where we caught about £70,000 of tickets that were about to be sold on to audiences."

However, Joe Cohen, CEO of Seatwave, disputed Bean's argument: "I'd love to know who these people are who are making lots of money selling theatre tickets. The tickets that are exchanged on our market place... are maybe a couple of pounds over face value to well under face value."