Couple who got engaged at Batley Variety Club given the final ‘chicken in a basket’ meal

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A couple who got engaged on the dancefloor of Batley Variety Club have been served the last-ever ‘chicken in a basket’ at the venue during its closing party.

In the 60s and 70s, the club was famous nationwide for inventing the dish, which involved piling pieces of chicken and chips into a raffia basket lined with greaseproof paper and serving it to punters in their seats. The delicacy was included in the Variety’s entrance fee and was later adopted by nightspots all over the country after it pioneered the concept of eating during entertainment.

Stewart McLean proposed to wife Joanne while watching The Drifters on stage 35 years ago, and the pair returned with a large group of friends on Saturday for its successor the Frontier’s final night of trading before the premises are tranformed into a gym.

Stewart and Joanne received the treat from DJ Alan Kent, who entertained the crowd at the ‘Final Frontier’ with hits from the 60s to the present day.

The couple were even able to tell Alan about another coincidence - that Joanne’s mum worked as a waitress at the club back in its heyday, and even served the dish to punters.

“This small token meal was included in the entrance price and was considered to be the height of sophistication and in some cases, the highlight of the evening. It was a known fact that many of the audience would not eat for a full 24 hours before the show so that they would enjoy the experience even more,” said Stewart, who got down on one knee while Saturday Night at the Movies played in 1981.

The George IV pub in Hunslet, Leeds, prior to its closure. Picture: Google

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