GLASGOW’S iconic Pavilion Theatre has, for decades, excited audiences with posters advertising upcoming shows featuring acts such as Mrs Brown’s Boys, Sydney Devine and even The Monkees.

However, today the artwork catching the eye of patrons of the 118-year-old Grade 1 listed theatre is a ‘For Sale’ notice.

And for £3.9 million, the new buyer will acquire a 1,400-seat theatre that’s been refurbished with state-of-the-art equipment, a Louis XV interior design which also boasts an entertainment legacy stretching back to Harry Lauder and Charlie Chaplin.

Theatre manager Iain Gordon, who has staged, produced and even wrote plays and musicals for the Renfield Street operation, is set to leave after almost 40 years in charge.

A theatre insider says the decision to exit stage left has not been made by Mr Gordon.

The owners of the Pavilion, Tim and A D D Martin, have entered into talks with the Ambassador Theatre Group, who currently operate Glasgow’s King’s Theatre and the Theatre Royal.

HeraldScotland: PAPA (Image: PA)

“This is an astonishing turn of events,” said the insider, who asked not to be named. “The Pavilion was once part of a successful plc, which went bust in the 1980s, with debts of £30m.

“Iain Gordon came in and revitalised the theatre and it’s gone on to become a hugely successful operation, making around £500k a year profit. And it’s assumed that the Pavilion has bank assets of around £3m.”

“The news that it is likely to be sold off to its biggest rivals is creating shockwaves in Scottish theatre.”

The Renfield Street theatre has survived two world wars and the Krankies’ beanstalk disaster.

It was reborn in the 80s after former employee George Martin took his redundancy money and hired Iain Gordon to run the operation.

But there have been trials and travails.

The theatre, which began life as a music hall, was flooded in the early 1990s when a water tank burst.

Since that time, it’s had to endure a major refit as a result of the devastating fire in nearby Victoria’s nightclub.

And one of the only non-subsidised major commercial theatres in Scotland has had to battle for audiences, continually coming up with new comedy streams.

HeraldScotland: the herald the herald (Image: the herald)

The Pavilion was saved from a blaze in 2018

When the theatre has faced difficult times, however, acts such as hypnotist Robert Halpern and Brendan O’Carroll have appeared at exactly the right times to regenerate the building and play to packed audiences.

Along the way, the Pavilion has become synonymous with home grown comedy, such as Des Dillons’ Singing I’m No’ A Billy and James Barclay’s Paras Over the Barras.

Stars such as Ricky Gervais and Billy Connolly have appeared. Wet Wet Wet played the Pavilion in the early stage of their career. Comedy nights have featured a range of performers, from Jim Davidson to Julian Clary, from the Singing Kettle to Sydney Devine, offering Iain Gordon the opportunity to self-proclaim the Pavilion to be “The Scottish National Theatre of Variety Theatre”.

When the news broke today that the Martin brothers were considering a sale of the rococo-styled theatre, several business groups became interested in purchase. Insiders say that Iain Gordon, although close to retirement, proposed a management buyout, but that was rejected.

However, it looks like the Ambassador Theatre Group are the front runners in the bid to take over.

Theatre insiders have however asked questions about a possible monopoly situation regarding theatre ownership in one city, if ATG take control of the Pavilion. However, ATG, the UK’s largest theatre group with over 40 venues, do not own the King’s Theatre; it is leased to them by Glasgow City Council and the Theatre Royal is owned by Scottish Opera.

Questions have also been raised surrounding future content and pricing. “Will ATG, if they buy it, which is likely, endeavour to maintain the local content and encourage local writers to produce the sort of content the Pavilion audiences have long experienced?”

The insider added: “And what of the pricing policy? The Pavilion tends to operate at the budget end of the market. It will be fascinating to see how the Ambassador Group will programme shows, and what they will charge for them.”

It is understood that Iain Gordon will continue running the Pavilion Theatre until the New Year, with panto The Magical Adventures of Aladdin set to become his swansong.

The Martin brothers were unavailable for comment.

A spokesman for ATG declined to comment.