Lord Lloyd Webber: Chinese companies could buy West End theatres to 'control content'

25 June 2021, 16:42 | Updated: 25 June 2021, 16:46

By Eleanor Walsh

Theatre impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that he is losing more than £1million a month and has had to remortgage one of his properties due to the closure of theatres under Covid restrictions.

The veteran composer refused to rule out the possibility of foreign companies purchasing West End companies due to the financial the sector is under: “If you were one of the leading Chinese companies...to get your fists on London theatre would be a very very good move”.

Exclusive: Lord Lloyd Webber tells LBC theatres have been made a 'sacrificial lamb'

Rather than simply being for investment purposes, Lord Lloyd Webber explained that there would be a political motive behind the move, adding: “suddenly people have woken up to all of this now. There are many ways that you can quietly control content”.

Watch: Lord Lloyd Webber: No 10 doesn't rate culture and I’ve never met the PM

He and other industry figures are taking legal action to force the government to publish the results of its live event pilot scheme, (the Events Research Programme) which he believes would give the “green light” to reopen the sector.

Discussing the prospect of theatres being sold to foreign investors he said: “I don’t think we’ve got to that point because we’re lucky in London that you have three major theatre owners out of the four who are private people: Nica Burns, Cameron Mackintosh and myself, and the three of us do care passionately about theatre in our own ways.”

But Lord Lloyd Webber accused the government of not "rating culture" and said that he has never spoken to or met with Boris Johnson or Chancellor Rishi Sunak to discuss his concerns about the viability of his industry: “I hardly know anyone in this government”.

A spokesperson from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: "We understand a delay to full reopening is challenging for live events but we are helping our creative industries and sporting bodies through it. We have made a record £2 billion of support available for culture and £600m for sports, on top of billions more through other government schemes.

Watch In Full: Lord Lloyd Webber speaks to Nick Ferrari on LBC

"Our ongoing, groundbreaking Events Research Programme is gathering important evidence to help get all live events, including theatre shows, festivals and gigs, fully back up and running once it is safe to do so. We will publish the results of the programme before the move to Step 4, as we have always promised to. This aligns with the publication commitments for the other Roadmap reviews."