A BANKRUPTCY order against Freddie Eldrett has put a question mark over the future of his back garden theatre in Farnborough.

Battles with Rushmoor Council and a long period of ill health have been blamed for Mr Eldrett's crippling financial problems.

His debts have mounted up as he has struggled to save the Prince Regent Theatre - claimed to be the smallest in Britain.

Mr Edlrett was unavailable for comment this week, but his right-hand man, Philip Gilbert, said on Monday: "It's tragic that this has happened, but it was just too much for one person.

"Freddie has worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and has got nothing in return for his efforts."

He said Rushmoor Council had added to the problems by imposing tough health and safety regulations on the tiny theatre.

According to Mr Gilbert the building had to be rewired, and the seating capacity reduced from 100 to 50.

"It's a miracle Freddie kept going in the face of all that's gone on," he added. "I don't know what will happen to the theatre now."

Mr Eldrett is considering the offer of work in Brighton, while singer Gordon Haskell has expressed an interest in taking over the building and using it both as a theatre and recording studio.

The bankruptcy brings the curtain down on what was a dream project in 1984 when Freddie transformed a 50ft shed into a mock Regency theatre.

The theatre, based on designs by Nash who built the Brighton Pavilion, stands behind his bungalow in Guildford Road East, Farnborough.

Fitted with Victorian tip-up seats provided by Chipperfields Circus, the theatre opened in 1985 and cost Mr Eldrett £130,000 to set up.

Alongside the theatre he ran a dance and drama school for local youngsters. The exact scale of his debts is not yet known.

l Right: The 50ft garden shed which houses an ornate theatre.