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Soon after Ted’s untimely death in 2000, Pam de Grouchy wrote the following tribute in the programme for Oliver! 

‘Desperate for more men to play pirates in my 1979 production of The Pirates of Penzance, I appealed to the female chorus members to search their attics for any spare men that they could find!

Ted was brought along for an audition and what a find he was to prove for the Society over the next twenty years. Not only on-stage with his fine voice and excellent acting, but off-stage as a wonderfully supportive Vice Chairman to me and, latterly, as organiser of Society ticket booking.

Ted worked tirelessly for the ‘Operatic’. He was the most popular character whom we all loved and his death was a great loss and at shock to us all. We miss you Ted.’

Between 1979 and 1993 Ted appeared in 27 SOS shows and, with the exception of the minor principal role of First Yeomen in the 1982 production of The Yeomen of the Guard, all of these were as a member of the men’s chorus. Although the Society is always on the look out for outstanding principal talent, Ted was the perfect example of how effective and important a ‘lesser light’ can be - he was loyal, hard-working, wise, committed and always enthusiastic. 

Ted was the person who made a point of welcoming new members and helping them feel part of the group. Indeed, he could always be relied upon to volunteered – when the 1990 version of The Yeomen of the Guard was reprised as a summer show at Beaulieu Abbey it was Ted and Robin Woodward who, to the bemusement of some American tourists, spent the daytime walking around Beaulieu in full yeoman costume trying to attract customers. 

Ted spent four years as the Society’s Vice Chairman (1992 – 96) but after the winter show, Carmen, he had to deputise unexpectedly for Chairman David Tizzard when the latter stood down citing ‘pressure of work’. Ted then found himself successfully leading the group in David Rayner’s imaginative production of Ruddigore

To many members Ted was known as ‘Ticket Ted’ as it was he who began the successful SOS Ticket Office where members could order tickets through him which he would then collect and deliver. He had plenty of experience in this area due to five years (1990-95) spent as the Business Manager for DYT (then known simply as the Junior Section). His desire to advertise the youngsters’ show led to him finding an old banner at Nursling, painting the show details on it and climbing a ladder to hang it high up outside the Avenue Hall.  Unfortunately it rained heavily, the writing ran and the message was completely illegible. He got it right for their next show though.

Terry O'Farrell

Hall of Fame

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Dennis as Wilfred Shadbolt with Margaret Amey (Phoebe) in The Yeomen of the Guard (1982)

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Dennis as Sir Despard Murgatroyd with Pam Hoskins (Mad Margaret) in Ruddigore (1981)

From its earliest days Southampton Operatic Society has been a society of rules. These can be found in the Members' Handbook but there are also the unofficial unwritten rules and there have been many of those over the years – the claim that new members must spend a show in the chorus before being considered for a principal part is perhaps the best known.

When Dennis Gooch joined SAOS in 1965 this ‘unwritten policy’ was strictly adhered to so it must have come as a surprise to everyone when the auditioning panel gave him the part of the Mikado! Indeed, the committee wrote to the directing team of Bert Clague and D Cecil Williams reprimanding them for ignoring the rule. 

Dennis was obviously a great success in his debut SAOS performance and went on to perform in 25 shows before retiring in 1985 (22 as a principal). He also served as the group’s Treasurer from 1970 to 1983 and was less than impressed when a show lost money - in 1982 the Patience principals found themselves rehearsing in their homes whenever possible in an attempt to save money.

  • Dennis’ performing record for the Society:
  • 1966 – The Mikado of Japan in The Mikado
  • 1967 – Sergeant Meryll in The Yeomen of the Guard 
  • 1968 – Giuseppe Palmieri in The Gondoliers
  • 1969 – Florian in Princess Ida
  • 1970 – King Paramount the First in Utopia Limited
  • 1971 – Dick Deadeye in HMS Pinafore
  • 1972 – Pooh-Bah in The Mikado
  • 1973 – Sir Despard Murgatroyd in Ruddigore
  • 1974 – Mars in Orpheus in the Underworld
  • 1975 – Wilfred Shadbolt in The Yeomen of the Guard
  • 1976 – Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre in The Sorcerer
  • 1977 – Giuseppe Palmieri in The Gondoliers
  • 1978 – Chorus in Carmen
  • 1979 – The Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance
  • 1980 – Private Willis in Iolanthe
  • 1980 – Dick Deadeye in HMS Pinafore
  • 1981 – Marcel in La Vie Parisienne
  • 1981 – Sir Despard Murgatroyd in Ruddigore
  • 1982 – Chorus in Patience
  • 1982 – Wilfred Shadbolt in The Yeomen of the Guard
  • 1983 – Pooh-Bah in The Mikado
  • 1983 – Puh-Bah in Der Mikado
  • 1983 – Sergeant of Police in The Pirates of Penzance
  • 1984 – Arac in Princess Ida
  • 1985 – Chorus in Die Fledermaus

Sadly Dennis retired before SOS shows were routinely filmed but there are many newspaper reviews to illustrate that he was, without doubt, an exceptionally talented performer.
Some sample press reviews…

Newcomer Dennis Gooch, as the Mikado, showed that the society has another rich voice to call upon. 

The gondoliers, Marco and Giuseppe, were played with verve and obvious enjoyment by John Hoskins and Dennis Gooch and their vitality was matched by their spouses Jill Meager (Gianetta) and Pamela Hoskins (Tessa).

There are also lively performances from John Hoskins and Dennis Gooch as Hilarion’s friends 

Dennis Gooch also impressed as King Paramount, strong of voice and light of dance-step

Pooh-Bah, is a difficult part to play but Dennis Gooch has obviously given deep thought to the characterisation. 

Pamela Hoskins brought Phoebe, the Yeoman’s daughter, to life with natural acting and singing, and was well complemented by head jailor Wilfred Shadbolt, performed by bass Dennis Gooch with a fine sense of theatre.

There was no difficulty in hearing Dennis Gooch who, as Private Willis, added a third and topical verse to his song.

John Hoskins (Captain Corcoran) and Dennis Gooch (a splendidly grisly Dick Deadeye) had found their perfect roles.

Dennis Gooch as her foil, Shadbolt, was grossly unprepossessing and preposterous. 

Other outstanding characters in this tuneful extravaganza were Dennis Gooch as Pooh-Bah… 

Dennis Gooch made an admirable forceful Sergeant of Police.

The warrior sons of Gama, Dennis Gooch, John Whale and Peter Hill sang out strongly and it was a joy to hear their resonant tones.

After retiring from the stage Dennis could be seen regularly at the SOS Juniors’ shows where his daughter, Wendy South, was the long standing Director. He also attended the concert organised to celebrate the group’s 90th Anniversary and couldn’t resist joining the performers on stage for a final rousing rendition of ‘Hail Poetry’.

Terry O'Farrell

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 Shirley Wort (Josephine) with John Hoskins (Ralph Rackstraw) - HMS Pinafore 1962

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                                      John as Cyril in Princess Ida 1969

John joined SAOS in 1949 and before his untimely death in October 1985 appeared in 39 productions, playing a principal role in all but six of them. Ray Harris, who appeared alongside John in most of those shows, recently declared that he was ‘the best tenor that the Society ever had.’ Indeed, John played all the main G&S tenor leads available in the 36 years of his membership, notably Marco, Frederic, Nanki-Poo, Tolloller, Cyril, Fairfax, Ralph Rackstraw, Richard Dauntless and Captain Fitzbattleaxe - many of them two or three times.


John was a large man (his performing colleague reports that he weighed over 18 stone) and he certainly made an impact on the stage, it is very rare to find a review of one of his shows where he does not feature in a positive light. Perhaps the most memorable critique occurred in 1962 when the reporter was much taken by the size of the leading man, ‘A butterball of a tenor by name of John Hoskins rolled on the stage with a cherubic smile, scared into his performance and the cast contracted his enthusiasm without realising it. Trial by Jury sped its modest way because of him.’

Some other typical reviews of John …

1955: ‘Frederic (John Hoskins) brought a fine voice to a difficult part.’

1958: 'John Hoskins, as that wonderful character Cyril (a sort of Court Billy Bunter) is really good.’

1960: 'John Hoskins and Raymond Harris, sang with grand aplomb and acted in a wickedly satirical style as the royal republican rulers.’

1963: ‘John Hoskins sang splendidly as the Pirate Apprentice.’

1964: ‘Mr. Hoskins tenor is the best male voice in the cast.’ 

1967: ‘It took John Hoskins, as Colonel Fairfax, to inject some real life into the production half way through the first act. He is a most competent performer with a fine voice and has the advantage of being a veteran operatic singer.’

1972: ‘John Hoskins’ pleasant tenor, good stage presence and ready smile brings the wandering minstrel Nanki-Poo to life.’ 

1984: ‘John Hoskins, uses a wealth of experience in creating a commanding King Hildebrand.'


John was a popular member of the group but could also be quite stubborn, in 1978 he was very worried about plans to perform Carmen and refused to have anything to do with the project  complaining to the Committee that it would ‘ruin the Society’s  reputation.’ John became the Society’s Vice Chair in 1982 and at the time of his death was Chair of the Future of SAOS sub-committee – the group that later recommended the formation of a junior section.

Terry O'Farrell

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