Ugly Chief

Ugly Chief created and performed by Victoria Melody and Mike Melody

A Eulogy for a Living Soul


Artist and performer Victoria Melody teams up with her dad, TV antique dealer Mike Melody, for her most ambitious show yet. Ugly Chief is a comedy based on true-life events, performed by a real-life father and daughter.

In 2013, Mike was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and given five years to live. Victoria was put in charge of planning the funeral (complete with eulogies, a New Orleans jazz procession and a congregation dressed in Blackpool FC tangerine).  But a year later the doctors realised they had misdiagnosed Mike.

Victoria and Mike decided to go ahead with the funeral anyway and Victoria went to Port Talbot to train as a funeral director. Ugly Chief plays out the funeral Victoria planned – and the funeral her dad really wanted. It explores the British funeral industry and how we deal with death in modern western society. And it unpicks the complicated relationship with a parent whose opinion you don’t always agree with.

“Messy, moving and funny. Exposes the fractures in families we often avoid addressing while we’re alive”
★★★★ The Times

“Fascinating, beautiful and utterly human”
★★★★ Time Out

“A ridiculously enjoyable show… Of course we love it”
★★★★ The Guardian

“An off-piste comic treat”
★★★★ What’s On Stage

“Extremely funny and wonderfully strange”
★★★★ The Stage

Meet Victoria and Mike Melody
Vic vs Mike
David Jubb on Ugly Chief

The Team

Performers – Victoria Melody and Mike Melody

Musicians – Gemma Storr, Kieran Rafferty, Steve Pretty and James Gow

Written and Conceived – Victoria Melody
Writing Credits – Mike Melody and John Gordillo
Director – John Gordillo
Set and Costume Designer – Lucy Bradridge
Musical Director and Original Music – Tom Parkinson
Lighting Designer and Production Manager – Sean
Assistant Stage Manager – Rebecca Hitchcox
R&D Dramaturgy – Paul Hodson
Camera Operator – Rosie Powell
Photographer – Hugo Glendinning
Producer – Fiona Baxter
Outreach Producer and Tour Booker – Janice Brittain
PR – Martha Oakes

With Thanks

Margaret Melody, Richard Dufty, All at Baglan Funeral Home, Tora at the Modern Funeral, Gavin Stride, Fiona Baxter, Sarah Wilson-White, Janice Brittain, Steph Richardson, Hot 8 Brass Band and Tru Thoughts Records, Tom Brooks at Inter Vivos and Cherice Harrison-Nelson, Markeith Tero


Commissioned and developed at New Wolsey Theatre, Farnham Maltings, Battersea Arts Centre and Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts.  Supported by The Point Eastleigh, The Spire, The Marlborough, National Performance Network, and Unity Theatre Trust. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Originally seeded by house with The Old Market.