An old documentary featuring residents of Brighton criticising the council’s destruction of its historic culture and elegance has re-emerged.

All Change For… Brighton, first broadcast in 1979 by the BBC, features the late Jack Tinker, renowned theatre critic, former Argus reporter and long-time resident, describing the Regency flavour and his despair at the loss of certain buildings to gentrification.

Now, some 42 years on, the programme has appeared on YouTube and has attracted more than 39,000 views.

Getting off the train at Brighton Station after commuting to London, Jack longed for the days of the Brighton Belle, a train service known for its luxury but axed in April 1972.

He said: “This ride home used to be a real pleasure - not any more. The glamour has gone, so has the restaurant and so has the non-stop schedule, and the train is usually late at the end of it.

“For those who never knew it, the Belle was our equivalent of the Orient Express, an Art Deco rolling restaurant that gobbled up the miles between London and Brighton 55 minutes non-stop.”

The Argus: The Brighton Belle, pictured near Brighton Station in 1961: credit: Anthony K PearceThe Brighton Belle, pictured near Brighton Station in 1961: credit: Anthony K Pearce

Jack’s sadness, and the sadness of the residents he speaks to in the programme, at the loss of the glamour of Brighton did not stop at the Brighton Belle, he also criticised the destruction of buildings that had stood for many years in favour of tower blocks and car parks.

“I sometimes think if the Royal Pavilion were offered to the present local authority, they’d clear the site immediately for yet another national car park," he said.

“So far as I have been able to discern any forward planning, it’s been to destroy almost everything that gave Brighton its special salty blend of sophistication and fun."

The Argus: Shoppers in Churchill Square back in 1989Shoppers in Churchill Square back in 1989

He decries the loss of the former home of English novelist Frances Burney to build Churchill Square, the former Hippodrome theatre being repurposed as a bingo hall, the demolition of the Art Deco Regent Cinema to build the branch of Boots in North Street and the creation of a multi-million pound marina on a stretch of public beach.

Another famous resident, the DJ Anne Nightingale, described the Top Rank building - now home to Pryzm - as the “ugliest building in Britain” and hoped, “like everybody else”, that the West Pier may be restored to its former glory.

The Argus: "The ugliest building in Britain" - how one resident described the current home of nightclub Pryzm: credit - Google Maps"The ugliest building in Britain" - how one resident described the current home of nightclub Pryzm: credit - Google Maps

“I still can’t believe that it can be allowed to fall into this hideous decay, when all this millions of pounds is being spent on a very tatty conference centre. If Brighton’s got a history of elegance, where is it now?” she said.

The West Pier was badly damaged in the Great Storm of 1987, with access from the shore removed in 1991, and then suffered a suspected arson attack in 2003.

However, there was one place that was spared Jack’s critique - the Theatre Royal, which he described as being the place where Brighton’s reputation as a theatre town stands or falls.

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“In my opinion, this is one of the finest theatres of its kind in the land - it's perfectly proportioned and beautifully restored,” he said.

Jack was a reporter for what was then the Evening Argus, then became the Daily Mail theatre critic for 24 years. He died in 1996 aged 58, with lights in the West End dimmed in his honour.

In his parting words in the documentary, he said: “Brighton is not only worth living in but fighting for and soon, who knows, even the men who run the place will come to believe us.”

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