Ian Payne was taken to pantomimes at the Grand as a child and brought up by his parents to respect the theatre’s history, so he was very sad when the theatre closed for over two years in the early 1980's:
"If I was in town and I was going somewhere, to the bus station in particular, you’d walk past the Grand, it was boarded up - one of the oldest theatres in the country, one of the most respected theatres in the country. A lot of the greatest stars we’d ever produced have trod the boards here and seeing this was just so upsetting. It probably hurt me more because I love theatre and the history of theatre. We were going into recession, jobs were being lost, it was all part and parcel of the whole atmosphere of the country, the doom and gloom climate of the country and as you don’t know when we’re going to come out of this depression, it was the same then. When the Grand Theatre closed, it suddenly dawned on me, it brought home how serious the economic climate was, when one of the most popular theatres in the land had closed and it was just like the heart and soul had been taken out of the town."