Dec.20 - The collapse of the roof of a London theatre brought much of the capital's renowned West End theatre district to a standstill and injured nearly 90 people. Theatre managers are beginning to assess the potential damage to their trade at the height of the Christmas season. Ciara Sutton reports.
They're iconic to the heart of London's West End - with some theatres dating back over a hundred years. Nearly 90 people were injured when part of the ceiling collapsed during a performance at the packed Apollo theatre, bringing the city's entertainment district to a standstill. The audience was showered with debris, where about 720 people including many families were watching "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time". With scores of tourists filling the stalls every day, concerns are now being voiced over the safety and maintenance of the buildings. Analysts say London's West End is crucial to the country's tourism industry. Mike Ingram is market strategist at BGC. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC's MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "Every year there are about 2.7 million theatre-goers that visit London. They pump in nearly 3 billion pounds a year. And of course there is the broader tourism industry in the UK which is now estimated at 21 billion and growing at around 6 percent a year. So this sort of high profile incident potentially has a massive impact on the UK economy." While an investigation is under way into what happened at the Apollo, theatre experts say there is no need for panic. Marc Sinden is Director of TV series Great West End Theatres. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARC SINDEN, DIRECTOR OF SERIES GREAT WEST END THEATRES "It's a terrible accident, it happens. That's what the word accident it. An unforeseen situation. But these theatres are safe. These theatres are checked annually by the county council and the fire brigade. They wouldn't have their operating license, which is an annual check, if they weren't safe." Tourism is one of Britain's top industries and London has enjoyed record success since the 2012 Olympics. Tourists flooding the capital over the festive period will be hoping the show can go on.