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Rapper teams use characters to interact and engage with an audience, and turn a dance into a street theatre performance. 


The Tommy is a team’s mouthpiece. They corral an audience and keep a spare sword to hand, just in case. While Tommy is the master of ceremonies, Betty is an agent of chaos and a lord of misrule.

Characters are an important part of the tradition and while almost every team has a Tommy, the Betty has fallen out of vogue. Both are integral to any Thrales performance. Our main Tommy character is fluent in classical verse and political philosophy and is London’s most famous kilt-wearing vegan; while Nurse Betty is our award-winning healthcare operative, often anarchic and always “free at the point of entry”.


Tommy and Nurse Betty form an extraordinary double act, unique to Thrales. They are key to several signature figures and occasionally they join the dancers to end a performance with a six or seven-sword lock.

Over the years, Thrales have developed several characters, perhaps the most infamous (and best loved) of these is Grandma Thrale, a cockney fishwife who leads the performance of our  Beadnell fishermen’s dance. 

More details on the use and history of characters in rapper can be found at Rapper Online.

When Thrales started, it was easier to get everyone else to look stern than it was to get Andy (Williams) to smile convincingly.

— Andrew Kennedy



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