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Jimmy Cricket remembers comedy pals Sir Ken Dodd & Jim Bowen

Rochdale Council's photo of Sir Ken Dodd and Jimmy Cricket

Jimmy Cricket has been remembering comedy friends Jim Bowen and Sir Ken Dodd, who died within a few days of each other.

Liverpool legend Sir Ken, creator of the Diddy Men, passed away last weekend aged 90, having recently been released from hospital after six weeks of treatment for a chest infection.

And broadcaster and comedian Jim, best known for hosting darts-based game show Bullseye in the 1980s and ’90s, died on Wednesday at the age of 80.

Belfast-born and Rochdale-based Jimmy posted a video on Twitter in which he pays a special tribute to Sir Ken (below).

And Rochdale Council also tweeted the photo at the top of this article, saying: “Farewell to a legend – here’s comedy star Sir Ken Dodd with his good friend and Rochdale resident during a town hall dinner to celebrate Jimmy receiving a Papal knighthood in 2015. RIP and thanks for the laughs.”

Jimmy Cricket talking about Sir Ken Dodd

The Universe, the weekly Catholic newspaper, featured a photograph of Sir Ken on its front page (below), saying: “Catholic comedian leads tribute to legendary funnyman.”

And the Rochdale Observer also reported on Jimmy paying tribute to Sir Ken. The story recalled the tale of the stolen concrete wellies – read more about that here.

Read more about Sir Ken.

Jimmy Cricket talks about Sir Ken Dodd in the Catholic newspaper, The Universe

Former deputy headmaster Jim, who lived in North Lancashire, began his career as a stand-up comedian on the club circuit in the 1960s. He became a household name when he began presenting Bullseye in 1981. The Sunday tea time show ran for 14 years.

Jimmy tweeted: “So sad to hear of the passing of another legendary comic and game show host, my friend Jim Bowen, another ⭐️ star in heaven!”

Click here to watch Jimmy’s appearance on Bullseye.

Sir Ken Dodd: Jimmy Cricket pays tribute

The BBC called Sir Ken Dodd a comedy legend
The BBC described Sir Ken as “one of the most popular comedians of his time”

Jimmy Cricket was quick to pay tribute to his close friend and fellow comedian Sir Ken Dodd who has died aged 90.

Liverpool legend Sir Ken, creator of the Diddy Men, had recently been released from hospital after six weeks of treatment for a chest infection.

Only days before his death – which was announced this morning (Monday) – he married Anne Jones, his partner of 40 years, at their house in the Liverpool suburb of Knotty Ash.

Said Jimmy: “Sir Ken Dodd was not only our greatest ever stand-up comedian but a genuinely nice man.”

Replying to the tribute, which Jimmy had posted on his Twitter account, entertainer Bernie Clifton said: “A World without Ken Dodd is a poorer, darker place. What a Man, I’ve lost a good friend. RIP Sir.”

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said a book of condolence would open later on Monday, tweeting: “We are comforted by the joy and happiness he brought the world.”

Actress and fellow Liverpudlian Claire Sweeney posted her own tribute on Twitter (below) and included photos from Sir Ken’s 90th birthday party in the city.

Fellow Liverpudlian and actress Claire Sweeney shared some photos of the star's 90th birthday party on Twitter

Jimmy had been among those to pay tribute to his friend and fellow entertainer Sir Ken when he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award in October.

Sir Ken had received the accolade in front of a star-studded audience at the British Music Hall Society event at the Lansdowne Club in central London.

He was famous for his very long stand-up shows, which sometimes lasted until the early hours of the morning, along with his Diddy Men from Knotty Ash and his tickling stick.

The son of a coal merchant, Sir Ken had been a comedian since 1954 and made it into the Guinness Book of Records for telling 1,500 jokes in three-and-a-half hours.

Sir Ken was also a ventriloquist and an established singer. He had many recording hits, charting on 18 occasions in the UK Top 40, and his version of Bill Anderson’s Happiness, which reached 31 in the charts in 1964, became his signature song.

His recording of Tears topped the UK singles chart for five weeks in 1965, becoming the biggest hit single in Britain that year and selling more than a million copies in the UK alone, where it was the third best selling song of the 1960s and is the 39th top selling single of all time.

His publicist Robert Holmes said: “To my mind, he was one of the last music hall greats. He passed away in the home that he was born in over 90 years ago. He’s never lived anywhere else. It’s absolutely amazing.”

Variety show is in aid of Leonard Cheshire Disability Scotland


Jimmy Cricket will perform at the Kirkcaldy Variety Special in April

Jimmy Cricket will again be performing for a charitable cause when he appears at a show in Scotland next month.

The famous entertainer, 72, will be taking part in the Kirkcaldy Variety Special, which also features internationally acclaimed Scottish singer Peter Morrison, and Scotland’s very own musical minstrel, Alastair McDonald.

The full supporting cast includes accordion champion Adin Graham, The Gail Neish Dance Studios and the East Fife Ladies Choir.

Leonard Cheshire Disability Scotland, a charity supporting disabled people in the UK and around the world, will benefit from the proceeds of the show at the Adam Smith Theatre on Friday 20 April.

Jimmy tweeted: “Hi everyone, will be up in Scotland in April for Michael Jamieson and his very worthy cause, why not come along for a night out and a giggle!”

Visit this page to book for the show.

The Chase’s ‘Beast’ Mark Labbett is a gentle giant

Jimmy Cricket's February column in the Lancashire Evening Post was about Mark 'The Beast' Labbett from ITV's The Chase

Jimmy Cricket’s latest column in the Lancashire Evening Post was about Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett from TV’s The Chase.

Famous Northern Irish entertainer Jimmy performed with Mark in pantomime in Ellesmere Port and Rochdale during the last festive season.

Mark  is a ‘Chaser’ on the ITV teatime game show The Chase, which is hosted by Bradley Walsh.

He began the role in 2009 and he has since appeared on the American version as their sole Chaser in 2013 as well as being one of six Chasers in the Australian series. He has also appeared in several other television quiz shows and is a regular in quizzing competitions.

His TV nickname ‘The Beast’ is a reference to both his stature (he’s 6ft 6in tall) and his surname – Labbett sounds like the French ‘la bête’, meaning ‘the beast’.

In his February LEP column, Jimmy told how during the time the panto was in Rochdale, Mark hosted a weekly quiz in The Flying Horse Hotel in the town and then in Ellesmere Port, ended up calling out a few games of bingo at a nearby Mecca hall!

On both occasions, Mark declined a fee and instead arranged for himself and the cast to have a meal courtesy of the two venues.

Added Jimmy: “All thanks to big Mark, our gentle giant with the big heart!”.


Daughter Katie Mulgrew wins Kudos North award

One of Jimmy Cricket’s daughters has won a prestigious award for her writing.

Katie Mulgrew

Katie Mulgrew (right), a writer and stand-up comedian from Rochdale, was one of three winners of the Northern Writers Award run by Kudos North, the Manchester-based production arm of Kudos.

The awards, run in conjunction with the BBC Writersroom, were launched in October 2017 to identify and nurture emerging northern voices. Judges were so overwhelmed by the standard of entries that three, rather than the previously stipulated two, winners were selected.

The trio each receive a £2,000 prize to get an idea developed with mentorship from acclaimed northern writers Danny Brocklehurst and Stephen Butchard.

Katie had her first full-length play, Omnibus, staged at the Liverpool Unity Theatre in 2017. She has written for BBC Radio 4’s Newsquiz and script-edited the award-winning short film Ctrl Z.

Katie Mulgrew was one of three winners of the Kudos North award

Proud dad Jimmy said on social media channel Twitter: “Congratulations to my daughter Katie who has won this prestigious award as a talented writer!”

The other two award winners were Niki Rooney, a writer from Glasgow who has written extensively for Hollyoaks (C4) and tween drama Ride (Nickelodeon), and Helen Black, an author from Pontefract in West Yorkshire who has six published books in her Lily Valentine series alongside a new fiction series called Taking Liberties.

Laura Conway, Development Producer at Kudos North, said: “I am thrilled to find three fabulous Northern voices who are new to both Kudos and the BBC Writersroom.

“The level of work was extremely high which made the decision near impossible but Katie, Helen and Niki all expressed clear, urgent visions for their pitches and created characters which stayed with me long after the judging day.

“Championing top talent is what this award is all about and to find three exceptional, female writers is genuinely exciting – I can’t wait to get cracking on development.”

From 300 scripts received, 23 were invited to submit a one-page pitch for a TV drama series idea. These were read by judges and whittled down to six, which were invited to BBC Media City in Manchester to pitch their idea to a panel including Ayela Butt, BBC Drama Co –Commissioner, Anne Edyvean, Head of the BBC Writersroom, Sarah Stack, Head of Development at Kudos and Laura Conway Development Producer at Kudos North.

The winners will now be given one-on-one support by Kudos North in developing their idea before presenting to BBC commissioner Mona Qureshi and co-commissioner Ayela Butt.

Jimmy Cricket welcomes news on Sir Ken Dodd

Jimmy Cricket pays tribute to Sir Ken Dodd

Jimmy Cricket has expressed his delight at the news that close friend and fellow comedian Sir Ken Dodd has returned home after six weeks of treatment for a severe chest infection.

The 90-year-old funnyman, whose great career spans seven decades, was admitted to Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital on 12 January, but left on Tuesday surrounded by his Diddymen.

And Jimmy said on social media channel Twitter: “So good to see Sir Kenneth coming out of hospital yesterday with his Diddy Men by his side.

“I’m sure he’ll go from to strength to strength and it won’t be long before he’ll be treading the boards again, waving his tickling stick and filling us all full of plumpsishness.”

Jimmy is pictured above paying tribute to Sir Ken (far right) when he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award last year.


Watch: Jimmy Cricket on TV’s This Is Your Life

It’s more than 30 years since Jimmy Cricket was the given the red book treatment on This Is Your Life.

It was on 29 September 1987 when the famous Northern Irish comedian was surprised by presenter Eamonn Andrews on a central London building site.

In the show, the host popped in unexpectedly on a special guest, before going to a studio to take them through their life with the assistance of the ‘big red book’ and the help of friends and family.

The programme was originally broadcast live and alternated between on the BBC and  on ITV over the years.

The surprise element was a very important part of the show; if the guest heard about the plans beforehand, it would be immediately abandoned.

And Jimmy’s show was almost jeopardised by a one-in-a-million chance meeting the day before the surprise. Find out why and watch the whole episode below.

The show was broadcast on Wednesday 4 November, the eve of Eamonn Andrews’ death.

Great evening in Cheadle raising funds for hospice

Jimmy Cricket recently did a charity show in Cheadle, a village in the Greater Manchester borough of Stockport.

The Rochdale-based comedian performed at Christ Church on Finney Lane in Heald Green.

And afterwards, Jimmy posted on social media channel Twitter: “Great evening with Fr Paul and Jim and Denise Nicholas and friends at Christ Church Cheadle raising funds for the local Hospice!”

You Must Be Joking tour: Watch the finale song

Jimmy Cricket has posted on social media a video of the finale song at the end of the popular You Must Be Joking tour 2018.

The three-week series of shows featuring Jimmy and three fellow Northern Ireland comedians ended at the Island Arts Centre on Lagan Valley Island in Lisburn.

Other team members were: John Linehan (aka May McFettridge), Gene Fitzpatrick and William Caulfield.

Afer the final night, Jimmy,  72, tweeted: Been a blast the, “You Must Be Joking Tour”, for and here alongside, singing for the last time our finale song, my partners in crime, John Linehan and and 😂

The eight-show tour had opened on 20 January at the Grand Opera House in Belfast, Jimmy’s birth place though he has lived in Rochdale for many years with his wife May Mulgrew.

You can see the clip of the You Must Be Joking team singing their finale song on Jimmy’s Twitter feed here.

Chatting with Pamela on UTV Life’s famous sofa

Jimmy Cricket appeared on UTV Life

Jimmy Cricket was a guest on Northern Irish television programme UTV Life recently.

The famous Belfast-born entertainer, described in the preview material as a “comedy legend”, talked to chat show host Pamela Ballentine.

UTV is a commercial television broadcaster in Northern Ireland owned and operated by ITV plc as part of the ITV Network.

The show featuring Jimmy can be viewed here.

Pamela is one of Northern Ireland’s best-known presenters, renowned for her friendly hosting skills on some of television’s most popular shows, including Friday evening’s UTV Life which draws a weekly plethora of A List stars who join her for a chat on her famous sofa.