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With over 116 boxes of archive material plus stage props and posters, the material sheds light on Cooper’s highly organised working methods as well as the business side of his career.

The comedian only used a small proportion of the material he amassed in his ‘Gag File’,  a storage system for his jokes which he arranged in alphabetical order in the meticulous manner of an archivist.

Tommy Cooper’s Gag File

Tommy Cooper’s Gag File. Copyright The Tommy Cooper Estate. Photograph the Victoria and Albert Museum.

There are also contracts from 1946 to through to his death in 1984; theatre programmes and various writings, some jotted down by hand on the backs of posters or shirt packaging card.  

A selection of the objects in the collection will be put on display in the V & A’s Theatre and Performance Galleries this autumn.