THOSE were the days when Ashburton received worldwide fame thanks to an unlikely source – the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.

Its headquarters, the Golden Lion pub in East Street, now sadly no longer, was run by Alan Hope, who was made deputy party chairman in 1982 by the then chairman and founder Screaming Lord Sutch.

The unbelievably amusing real life stories are brought to the stage next month when Theatre Royal Plymouth artistic director Simon Stokes produces James Graham’s Monster Raving Loony, at The Drum.

Samuel James takes the role of Screaming Lord Sutch, with Joseph Alessi, Camilla Beeput, Joanna Brookes, and Jack Brown playing a number of different characters including Alan Hope.

In 1987, Hope was elected unopposed to Ashburton Town Council, and is the only OMRLP candidate to have been elected to public office. He rose to deputy mayor and became mayor in 1998, a position he held for two terms.

After the death of Screaming Lord Sutch, Hope became joint leader of the party in 1999 with his cat Catmando, and the following year sold the Golden Lion and moved to Hampshire. Unfortunately, in 2002, Catmando died in a road accident.

Now known as Alan ‘Howling Laud’ Hope, he was elected unopposed to Fleet Town Council, Hampshire in 2010.

During his long association with Ashburton, his trade mark was his Boss Hogg outfit. The party’s annual conferences were a scream, with crazy antics such as holding cabinet meetings in cabinets, and sliding down butter mountains at Haytor.

Monster Raving Loony is at The Drum from Saturday, February 6 until Saturday, February 27.