The union was founded in the aftermath of a strike at the Adelphi Theatre in London in 1890, as the United Kingdom Theatrical and Music Hall Operatives' Union. By the turn of the century, it had become a national organisation, and in 1901 renamed itself the National Union of Theatrical Stage Employees. In 1904, the union began recruiting workers in cinemas, and renamed itself the National Association of Theatrical Employees, not crediting its cinema staff in the union name until 1936, when it became the National Association of Theatrical and Kine Employees (NATKE). The union began organising some television workers, and in 1970 changed its name for the final time to credit them. It began organising among bingo hall staff, and in 1983 it merged with the National Association of Executives Managers and Staffs. In 1984, it merged with the Association of Broadcasting and Allied Staffs to form the Broadcasting and Entertainment Trades Alliance.