Al Senter was born on the 29th of October 1953 in Edinburgh and was brought up in Corstorphine. He joined the Royal High School secondary school in August 1965, aged 11, one of the youngest boys in his year. Al spent his six years at the Royal High School equally divided between the old school at Regent Road and the new school at Barnton. He was an all-rounder: he played rugby, he won many prizes for his academic work and he enjoyed taking part in the school’s dramatic productions – Al’s performance as Bill Sykes in ‘Oliver’ had rave reviews. He was appointed School Captain for the 1970/71 school year and in later years he would say, with typical modesty, that it must have been a very poor year!
Al left the Royal High School in June 1971 and moved south to read French and German at Southampton University. After university he moved to London and found a job running the bookshop at the National Theatre. Al was always passionate about the theatre and his job at the National Theatre proved to be the launch pad to a distinguished career as a freelance journalist, writer, interviewer and broadcaster who specialised in drama both on stage and on screen.
After he went freelance Al returned to the National Theatre to conduct on-stage interviews with some of the actors after the shows. Al enjoyed interviewing and he went on to interview authors at various literary festivals in the UK including the prestigious Edinburgh International Book Festival. In the weeks leading up to his appearances in Edinburgh Al would diligently read through the large pile of books which had been delivered to him in London. He was always well prepared for his interviews and the authors and his audiences appreciated this.
Al was a stalwart of the Royal High School Club in London serving as President from 2008-2011. He also served on the committee for many years and worked hard to put on Club events in attractive venues which would appeal to the members. He had an excellent telephone manner and he would regularly ring up members to keep in touch with them and to encourage them to come along to the annual dinners and other events. Al was a good colleague to work with: reliable, hard-working and creative. He will be sadly missed.
Al passed away in The Croydon University Hospital on 26th April 2022 at the age of 68 after a long illness. He leaves his brother Alan and his sister Lesley who both live in Edinburgh.
Friends of Al Senter gathered at the National Theatre in London on Tuesday the 7th of June 2022 to celebrate his life. We met up in the foyer of the Lyttelton Theatre where the NT Bookshop was located when Al was the manager.
We recounted how we first met Al: one friend met him at Southampton University, some shared flats with him in London, some met him at a badminton club, some were colleagues at the National Theatre and of course some of us knew him from the Royal High School Club in London. The picture of Al which emerged from our conversations was of an excellent communicator, a good networker who brought people together and a kind man who made lifelong friendships. Al was lucky with the friends he had and we were lucky to have known Al.