Percy Tucker

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Percy Tucker (1928-2021) was an influential theatre booking agent, founder of Show Service and Computicket and an author.


Born Percival Tucker in Benoni on 10 July, 1928, where he also grew up.

He completed a B. Com. Degree in 1948 and , with this in hand and given his interest in theatre, he went on to become a prominent theatre booking agent and ultimately founder and executive manager of Computicket.

After his retirement he became interested in documenting the history of theatre in South Africa. His 1997 autobiography, Just the Ticket!, is a valuable reminiscence about theatre in South Africa in the second half of the twentieth century.

Percy's partner, Graham Dickason (1936 - 2020) passed away in 2020 and Percy himself on 29 January, 2021, of COVID-19 complications.

Contribution to South African theatre, film and media


In 1935 Percy saw Gracie Fields perform at the Criterion Cinema, and was hooked on theatre, a feeling reinforced by his attendance of The Pageant of South Africa in the Empire Exhibition Arena in 1936.

He started his own theatrical career as an amateur actor and stage manager, working for the East Rand Theatre Club. There he worked backstage on Taubie Kushlick’s production of Love on the Dole in 1946 and The Guinea Pig (directed by Kishlick and performed by the East Rand Theatre Club) in May 1948, starring Ethel London. In this case he worked as a lighting technician, but an indiscretion saw him demoted for the run of the production. He was eventually put in charge of the box office, a move that started his ticket-selling career. He would afterwards work with Taubie Kushlick on virtually all her productions in various capacities from 1940s until her death in 1991.

The other influence on his life was Leon Gluckman, for whom he worked backstage on Jean Cocteau's The Eagle Has Two Heads in 1949 (performed in the Library Theatre with Leon Gluckman and Taubie Kushlick), in 1952 as assistant stage manager on John van Druten’s The Voice of the Turtle (co-directed by Leon Gluckman and Margaret Inglis, who also co-starred), a production that toured the East Rand and in 1953 was as joint assistant stage manager, with Barney Simon on James Ambrose Brown’s The Governor at Black Rock (directed by Gluckman for the East Rand Theatre Club). In 1954 he was given the position of business manager for Leon Gluckman’s production of Shakespeare’s King Lear at the Wits Great Hall, directed by Elizabeth Sneddon with Gluckman as "Lear" (assisted by Audrey Cobden).

Show Service

In 1954 he then started Show Service, a centralized booking office for theatres and cinemas, with Leon Gluckman and Audrey Cobden becoming his partners.

In 1956 he attended the first meeting of the South African Association of Theatrical Managements on behalf of Show Services, becoming a member of the committee and stying on this the association was dissolved, to be replaced by a new organisation – the Theatre Managements of South Africa - Percy serving as a member of the executive committee for many years.

David Bloomberg went into partnership with Tucker in the 1960’s, and started presenting tours of international artists and entertainers. They called this venture South African Theatrical Enterprises. Pat Bray joined Show Service as Tucker’s second-in-command in February 1960. Together with David Bloomberg, he brought Murray Banks to South Africa in 1960 where he performed at the City Hall in Johannesburg, Benoni, the Transvaal , Rhodesia and the Cape Province. He sub-let office space to Sylvia Rich, who ran a C.O.D. ticket delivery service, in 1967. He was a trustee of the Phoenix Players circa 1974. TUCKER, Percy,Started in 1954 with Show Service which was a centralized booking office for theatres and cinemas. Situated in Jhb. Later


Out of Show Service, Tucker went on to create Computicket as a centralized booking office for theatres, cinemas, festivals and all other public events.

While not the first attempt to create such a system, it was certainly the first truly successful ticketing organisation in the world, one able to provide a single access point for tickets to all live performances, utilizing a national computer network. Not only the first workable and fully functioning such national system in the world, but to date still one of the most comprehensive and efficient.

Tucker ran it for many years, later being joined by Aubrey Louw. He sold Computicket to the Rennies Group[1] and in 1994 retired as managing director. At this point he began to focus on his reminiscences.

For more detail, also see the entry on Computicket.

His autobiography

The book

Percy Tucker published his reminiscences in 1997, naming it Just the Ticket! My 50 Years in South African Show Business (usually refferred to simply as Just the Ticket!). Offering a first-hand view of Tucker's journey from these modest beginnings to becoming the trusted advisor and confidant to theatrical managements, the guide and comforter of visiting international stars and something of an unofficial impresario himself, it is told with humour, humility, nostalgia and a sense of history. The publication constitutes an invaluable resource on South African theatre, especially since it not only has biographical details on major performers and artists as well as listings of numerous plays produced during Tucker's in the active years, but also offers an insight into the broader world of popular entertainment in the 20th century.

The digital version

On the occasion of his 90th birthday, 10th July 2018, the book was made available for free online [2]

It appeared in three parts:

Part One - The Impossible Dream [3],

Part Two - One Stop-Shopping [4]

Part Three - Milestones and [5]



Percy Tucker 1997. Just the Ticket. My 50 Years in Show Business. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press.

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