IF you have been to the theatre or cinema recently you’ll know that the experience has changed dramatically over the last few years.

No, not the stuff on the stage or screen – that always changed according to the social atmosphere of the time. What is really different now is the behaviour of the audience.

Take theatres. In many, the bars remain open throughout the performance which can have a very negative effect on the evening. Inevitably, drunken people become louder, shout out remarks to the performers and get up mid-performance to go for a re-fill.

Obviously not every theatre and every performance suffers in this way. I’m sure it doesn’t happen at the ballet and Billy Connolly had his own way of treating anyone who left their seat when he performed. Basically, public humiliation.

However, when a friend paid almost £400 to take her mother to see Hugh Jackman appearing at the Manchester Arena recently, the long-awaited event was almost completely ruined by a drunken couple immediately behind them who insisted on shouting out throughout. A polite request to “please keep it down” resulted in a violent torrent of abuse which severely upset both of them. In the end, they asked an Arena steward to help and were moved, but the damage was already done.

A fellow audience member on the same row shared that they had also just been moved from another seat because the man behind them was the same – ending in him threatening physical violence.

While this is the extreme end of the situation, it does reflect what some people expect to do in the theatre or cinema.

I love the Vue Cinema at Middlebrook since they installed their ultra-comfortable seats. In fact, I fell asleep during The Life of Pets 2 with my grandchildren (in fairness, it wasn’t riveting and it had been a busy day!).

But I’m always amazed at how noisy people can be and how many keep their phones on and even insist on having long conversations mid-film. By comparison, the behaviour of the children watching is fine, energetic but fine.

During the latest Spiderman film last week, one young man in his 20s insisted on loudly recounting the plots of all the previous Marvel films to his friend – as the film was actually running. Then he had a conversation on the phone with another friend.

Food is something else that’s changed. When hot dogs were first sold at cinemas, we thought it was the height of American sophistication and a welcome addition to boxes of chocolate Poppets and tubs of mostly plain ice-cream.

At the Spiderman film, one couple nearby brought in a Chinese takeaway plus several cans to enjoy while another unwrapped a Macdonald’s meal. Others mostly settled for large tubs of popcorn or big bags of sweets.

Of course it’s not all bad news. The comfy seats, improved sound and picture quality and overall movie experience is brilliant. It’s just a shame that, sometimes, we can’t improve the audience quality.