Golden blonde: No business like show business

British theatre is enjoying a new golden age declares Howard Panter, the head of the world's biggest theatre group.

Mr Panter, whose Ambassador Theatre Group recently took over 16 UK theatres, forecasts a 14 per cent rise in profits to north of £20m this year, on turnover of more than £200m.

"We'll have massive growth next year as the full benefits of the acquisition start to filter through," he said. ATG owns 40 theatres, including the West End's Savoy where the Legally Blonde musical has had stunning success. Mr Panter said: "Theatre is recession-proof; even in tough times people want to have fun. As for pantos, demand just gets greater. We are putting on 12 this year – I've got to see them all."