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Ricky Gervais: Staff ‘abused’ by disappointed fans as Christchurch Regent Centre hit by ‘unprecedented’ demand

Staff at Christchurch’s Regent Centre were abused by queuing ticket-goers as the venue struggled with “unprecedented” demand.

People started queuing on Friday at around 4.30am outside the High Street box office, and by the time it opened at 10am the line was snaking past Pizza Express at the end of the road.

However, most left disappointed, the Regent Centre’s house and publicity manager Chris Cole said.

The queue for Ricky Gervais tickets at Christchurch Regent Centre
The queue for Ricky Gervais tickets at Christchurch Regent Centre

“We are a charity-run theatre, with a small staff supported by volunteers, and our entire team has worked incredibly hard to make this event possible,” he said.

“While most people have been very understanding of these exceptional circumstances, we have been disappointed by the level of abuse our staff and volunteers have received from some customers who did not manage to obtain tickets.”

Gervais is appearing this evening (Monday) and tomorrow in the town, previewing new material as part of only six dates. The other two venues are in Watford and London.

The internationally renowned comic’s dates overwhelmed the venue’s website with ticket inquiries on the morning of sale, which saw thousands disappointed as IT systems failed to cope.

“We had over 77,000 people attempt to book tickets through our website on the morning, traffic so high that it maxed out all available servers with our ticketing provider, despite numerous provisions put in place.

“Our phone lines received over 57,000 calls and as a small venue we are simply not equipped to deal with that level of demand.”

He added: “Customers began queuing outside the door at 4.30am, and our box office got through as many of these people as possible before tickets were sold out.

“With such a limited number of tickets available for these two shows, the vast majority of people attempting to book tickets will have been unsuccessful.”

Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais

This led to social media criticism that townspeople should have been given priority, bur Mr Cole said this would have been “impossible”.

“We appreciate all our loyal customers at the Regent, but with an event of this scale it would have been simply impossible to limit tickets or prioritise local Christchurch residents over anybody else.

“However, over 90% of tickets sold for these shows were to people from BH postcodes and in the immediate local area.”

He also warned those looking to grab tickets on re-selling websites that they may be cancelled.

“We’d like to remind everybody not to purchase re-sell tickets from third parties.

“As per our terms and conditions, any resold tickets will no longer be valid and you will be turned away at the door if the lead booker of your party cannot provide an ID that matches the name on your ticket.

“We thank you for your understanding and patience, and we really hope that those lucky enough to get tickets enjoy the show.”

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