A STORY by a Nobel Prize-winning author, a mid-20th century classic and a Lancashire comedy helped Bolton’s Octagon Theatre notch up a record-breaking 12 months.

The theatre has smashed box office records with three hit shows over the last 12 months — Of Mice and Men, An Inspector Calls and Hobson’s Choice.

The hat-trick of successes started in January 2013, when popular schools text, Of Mice and Men, played to almost 12,000 people and became the best-selling, non-festive show in the Octagon’s 45-year history.

Sales for the production of John Steinbeck’s novel which tells of fast-talking farm hand George and his innocent companion, Lennie, and their desire for the American Dream — surpassed the previous record held by Spring and Port Wine by 2,000 tickets.

In September 2013, J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls, in which the mysterious Inspector Goole interrogates the members of the affluent Birling family about the tragic death of a young woman — played to more than 10,600 theatre-goers.

The Octagon’s most recent success, Hobson’s Choice, Harold Brighouse’s story of a boot-maker and his three daughters, has now taken second position after playing to an audience of nearly 11,000.

Artistic director David Thacker, is hoping to build on the recent successes with the theatre’s upcoming productions, including Twelfth Night for which 5,000 tickets were sold ahead of last night’s first show.

He said: “People are put off Shakespeare for a lot of reasons — they studied it at school or think they won’t understand it.

“If they thought, I will give it a go because it’s the same 10 actors from Hobson’s Choice, I will go and see what they are like in Twelfth Night, even if you think you may not like Shakespeare.”

Mr Thacker is also thrilled audiences turned out to see the range of work the theatre produces, including The Glass Menagerie, Piaf and Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

Roddy Gauld, the Octagon’s chief executive, said: “We’d like to thank everyone who has been to visit the Octagon and we look forward to another year of great theatre in Bolton.”