The Hot Doris Band

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The Hot Doris Band was formed when Sayan met Mandy, Katrina and Rebecca, while studying at Rose Bruford. As they developed their sound they moved from singing at college to out into the world where there was a growing alternative cabaret scene. Their brand of tight harmonies, feminist glamour and comedy made them appealing to a wide range of audiences. They performed up and down the country during the 1980s in endless pubs, community centres, women’s venues and theatres including the legendary Variety Nights at the Theatre Royal Stratford East with Barry Cryer and Kate Williams, and the Hackney Empire Variety Nights. Some of the acts they shared the billing with at that time were Paul Merton, Jo Brand (then known as the Sea Monster), Julian Clary, Ian Shaw, Barb Jungr, Janette Mason, Stella Duffy, Parker & Klein, Donna & Kebab, Jenny Eclair, Linda Smith.

In 1987, as a joke someone entered the Hot Doris Band for the BBC’s Saturday night light entertainment programme, Bob Says Opportunity Knocks. They went along for the audition and were invited onto the show. On the night of the performance they won the studio vote, and the programme was broadcast nationally. But by the following week the Great British public had voted for a nine year old with a big voice, Toni Warne, who later found fame again in 2012 on the BBC’s The Voice.

In 1988 the government introduced Section 28, which aimed to ban the promotion of homosexuality. The artistic community staged many benefits to raise money, protest and help those affected by the fallout of this anti-gay legislation and The Hot Doris Band performed at many of these benefits, most notably:

BEFORE THE ACT A gala at the Piccadilly Theatre on 5th June 1988. Directed by Richard Eyre, all the songs or extracts that were performed were works that could have been regarded as promoting homosexuality under the proposed act. The Hot Doris Band opened the show with Cole Porter’s Anything Goes. The theatre was packed out, it was an incredible evening. Ian McKellen documents it here: and

The the illustrious line up included Maria Aitken, Francesca Annis, Jane Asher, Alan Bates,  Jill Bennet, Suzanne Bertish, Simon Callow, Michael Cashman, Ian Charleson, Judi Dench, Paul Eddington, Rupert Everett, Stephen Fry, Jill Gomez, Rupert Graves, Richard Griffiths, Sheila Hancock, Heather Harper, Lucy Jenkins, Miriam Karlin, Janis Kelly, David Kernan, Sara Kestelman, Mary King, Maureen Lipman, Nichola McAuliffe, Alex McCowen, Ian McKellan, Daniel Massey, Edna O’Brien, Gary Oldman, Gregory Parsons, Edward Petherbridge, Harold Pinter, Joan Plowright, Hugh Quarshie, Anna Raeburn, Simon Rattle, Vanessa Redgrave, Miranda Richardson, Elise Ross, Richard Sandells, Antony Sher, Imelda Staunton, Juliet Stephenson, Patrick Stewart, John Thaw, Timothy West, James Wilby and the Pet shop Boys who gave their first live performance of ‘It’s a Sin’ on that night.

NEVER GOING UNDERGROUND Manchester against Section 28 at the Free Trade Hall.

“The North West Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Equality (NWCLGE) adopted the ‘Never Going Underground’ symbol for its campaign against Section 28 and organised many events. The largest of these was the national march, rally and festival in Manchester on 20 Feb 1988.  This attracted 20,000 people to the rally, filling Albert Square outside the Town Hall. In the evening the Free Trade Hall on Peter Street was called for a festival of entertainment for the demonstrators.”

On this amazing night at the Free Trade Hall The Hot Doris performed alongside, Jimmy Somerville, Erasure, Sue Johnston and many others.

Gay Unity, Feb 1988

Hot Doris Facts:

On the rare occasions when the band weren’t all available for a gig, Cheryl Fergison (EastEnders) used come in and dep.

At one of their last gigs at the Broadway Theatre, Lewisham The Hot Doris Band had a guest act who came on and played a set. One of the songs was called ‘Perfect’ and the band was Fairground Attraction. The rest, as they say, is history.


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