Guys,Unless it is really good I find the back scenes to be distracting and it is much easier to operate without them, the layout looks much bigger without too. I agree about operating from the public side, there is much more interaction, if you run wireless then you can also stand behind the public and hear all the ooos and ahhs and learn which bits they like or not.
I have noticed over the past two years, both attending the Liverpool show in 2012, and watching a few videos of this years Liverpool event, that there seems to be quite a large number of quality layouts, all lacking a back scene or having back scene's that a plain blue. Seems to be the standard that they are no more than 300mm high. Most of these seem to be operated from the rear as well...
...The lack of or pretend back scenes really distract from what is other than quality. I know that here in Perth, judging points for back scenes makes up 20% of the points. We also tend to operate from the front of the layout, which promotes interaction with the public. It makes it a lot easier to communicate in a very noisy environment, without having to shout.