Leo Bird

Department of History

Research student


Thesis title: The British Comedy Industry: Prosperity and Decline in Live Comedy Performance, 1945-65.




Thesis abstract:

My thesis will analyse the unique role of comedy in the development of British popular culture in the post-war period.

This study plans to uncover an art form that has often been overlooked within academic circles. During this time, comedy was in the midst of a technological revolution encompassing the decline of music hall and variety, the rise of radio and into the television age. I intend to examine the changes in live comedy focusing on the routines, popularity and economic value of comedians and writers.

I want to shed light on the large-scale industry of making people laugh and how comedy is subject to both artistic and financial pressures.

  • PhD History, University of Sheffield, 2013 - present
  • PGCE Secondary History, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, 2006
  • MA Intellectual and Cultural History, Queen Mary, University of London, 2005
  • BA (Hons) Modern History and Politics, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, 2004
Teaching activities
  • I am a qualified teacher of 11 -18 year olds and have taught History and Government and Politics at A-Level since 2006. I currently teach part time.

University of Sheffield Teaching Assistant: 

  • HST117 The Making of the Twentieth Century
  • HST119 The Transformation of Britain, 1800 to the present.
Publications and conferences

Conference and seminar papers:

  • Variety-on-Sea: End of the Pier Shows and the Seaside Comedy Industry, 1945–1960, (British Society of Sports History Workshop, Leisure and Coasts, Ports and Waterways, University of Portsmouth, 2015)
  • Comedy Stripped Bare: The Windmill Theatre and the Evolution of Popular Comedy, 1945-60, (Social History Society Annual Conference, University of Portsmouth, 2015)
  • The Fall of the Empires: The Decline of Music Hall and Variety Comedy, 1945–1960. (Sport and Leisure History Seminar, Institute of Historical Research, 2014)
  • Sexual Innuendo and Double-entendre in Popular British Comedy, 1945-60. Moral Ambiguity in Post-war Britain. (British Society of Sports History Workshop, University of Winchester, 2014).