Tag Archives: lancashire evening post

A pleasant surprise ahead of Christmas pantomime

 

Jimmy Cricket's December column in the Preston-based Lancashire Post

Jimmy Cricket has revealed his joyful amazement when he discovered the identity of one of his fellow pantomime performers.

The well-known Northern Irish entertainer is currently playing Professor Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington, which is running at the Gracie Fields Theatre until New Year’s Eve in Rochdale where he lives.

The panto also features The Chase’s Mark Labbett (also known as The Beast), who plays King Rat.

Jimmy, 72, says in his December column in the Preston-based Lancashire Post that over the years he has played a lot of shows at a small theatre called the Westcliffe in Clacton-on-Sea in Essex.

“Every now and then, when I would come round to the front of house after the show to say goodnight, there would be a lady called Chrissie Grew with her two sons,” he recalls.

“As the years went by, Chrissie would keep in touch telling me about one of her boys – Danny – who developed a ‘magic act’.

“She would tell me about him taking his first tentative steps into the world of show business. Then her emails would get more exciting as more and more bookings would come in.

“Fast forward to a few months ago and I sign up to play panto in my adopted town of Rochdale this Christmas.

“I arrive to do the publicity launch and guess who’s playing Dick Whittington? You’re absolutely right! Danny! Yes, all those times his mum, Chrissie, took him to see stage shows planted seeds of a flower that has now blossomed.”

Dick Whittington panto details

Liz Dawn: Corrie star had ‘courage and a big heart’

Jimmy Cricket paid tribute in his Lancashire Evening Post column to Liz Dawn, who played Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street

Jimmy Cricket has paid a warm tribute to the late Liz Dawn in his  monthly newspaper column.

In the Lancashire Evening Post, Jimmy said Liz, who played Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street for more than 30 years, was “a great actress with a big heart who had the common touch”.

The soap legend died aged 77 in September following a long battle with emphysema, a disease of the lungs that primarily causes shortness of breath.

“It was when she landed the role of a factory worker in Coronation Street that Liz came to everyone’s attention,” recalled famous Northern Irish comedian Jimmy, 72.

“Her natural acting ability won the hearts of viewers and her on-screen relationship with Bill Tarmey as the bickering husband and wife Jack and Vera Duckworth captivated the nation.

“She raised incredible amounts of money for such worthy causes as the Manchester Children’s Hospital, the Genesis Appeal, and the Liz Dawn Cancer Appeal, and was awarded the MBE in the 2000 Queen’s Birthday Honours for her extraordinary fund-raising achievements.”

Jimmy said he first met Leeds-born Liz while working on the QE2, adding she was a  “huge hit”, with large audiences attending her ‘An Audience With Show’ where she talked about her life.

“At the height of her success on Corrie, she did a ‘Christmas Special’ from her home, and I played a postman who delivered her Christmas cards,” reminisced Jimmy.

Liz Dawn (who played Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street) talks to Frankie's friend Liz Creagh after the service. Liz was at both the ordination and the First Mass and Frankie was really thrilled she came to both events

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“However, it was my son who formed a strong friendship with Liz and her husband, Don.

“When our Frank was training for the priesthood, he politely enquired if Liz could put in an appearance at a fund-raising concert which would help to send some young people to Lourdes.

“Without hesitation, Liz not only turned up to that event but became a regular guest artiste at these shows.

“Our Frank, who was a stand-up comedian before he took up his vocation, would introduce Liz and together they would do a hilarious question-and answer-session.

“They both struck up such a rapport that when when Frank was ordained a priest [in 2013], Liz not only turned up at his ordination in Salford Cathedral but at his very first Mass in St Vincent’s Catholic Church in Rochdale [picture above].

“It took great courage and bravery, for by that time emphysema had taken its toll, but there she was… still laughing and joking with her fans after the service and always with her beloved Don pushing her wheelchair.”

Jimmy added: “I was so proud to be at her Requiem Mass at Salford Cathedral where Father Frankie was a concelebrant.

“Liz, you went from rags to riches and gave so much enjoyment and happiness along the way.”

LEP column: Here’s to the king of comedy writers

Jimmy Cricket's Lancashire Evening Post columnJimmy Cricket remembers legendary comedy writer and close friend, the late Eddie Braben, in one of his recent newspaper columns.

Edwin ‘Eddie’ Charles Braben was best known for providing material for Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise. He also worked for David FrostRonnie Corbett and Ken Dodd.

He was credited with changing the profile of Morecambe and Wise, helping to turn them into one of the most popular and enduring comedy acts in the history of British entertainment.

Belfast-born entertainer Jimmy, who has lived in Rochdale for many years, recalls in the Lancashire Post how Eddie started out as a market trader, selling fruit and veg from a stall in Liverpool’s St John precinct. In his spare time, he made up jokes.

Jimmy says how nervous he was when he first met Eddie, adding: “That was the start of a beautiful friendship that spanned two TV series, five radio series and even a book of letters from my Mammy.”

Northern Irish comedian Jimmy developed a lasting friendship with Eddie who sadly died aged 82 in May 2013. Below is a newspaper article in which Jimmy paid tribute to his old pal at the time.

Jimmy Cricket pays tribute to Eddie Braben in the Rochdale Observer

Omagh pub, John Wayne & Dublin’s Abbey Theatre

Jimmy Cricket has been recalling when he and his wife May came across a distinctive Northern Irish pub which is themed on a legendary film.

The famous entertainer made the recollection in a recent monthly column in the Preston-based Lancashire Evening Post.

He and Mrs Cricket noticed the pub, which has a thatched roof, while he was working at the nearby Strule Arts Centre theatre in Omagh.

The Sean Ogs pub is themed like the one in John Ford’s 1952 classic film The Quiet Man starring legendary actor John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, who was an Irish-born American actress and singer.

A black and white photograph on the wall of the pub shows the cast of the 1952 movie, as Jimmy, 71, discovered it was the setting for much of the action. The film, a comedy drama, won an Oscar for the best cinematography that year.

All the support actors were from the famous Abbey Theatre in Dublin.  It is also known as the National Theatre of Ireland and first opened its doors to the public on 27 December 1904.

Julius Caesar, UK prime ministers and Omnibus

Jimmy Cricket's column in the Lancashire Evening Post

Jimmy Cricket talked about Julius Caesar, British prime ministers and an award-winning play written by one of his daughters in a recent newspaper column.

Writing in the Preston-based Lancashire Evening Post (LEP), the famous entertainer, 71, mentions Omnibus, which was staged for the first time in Liverpool in June.

Omnibus, written by comedian Katie Mulgrew, was the winner two years ago of the first ever Liverpool Hope University play-writing prize. It is about a group of friends following a soap opera.

And she was given the opportunity to see her debut play on stage when it was performed at the Unity Theatre Liverpool in association with the Royal Court (which was closed for development work) to rave reviews!

Will the real Jimmy Cricket please do stand-up?!

Jimmy Cricket's latest column in the Lancashire Evening PostJimmy Cricket has been telling the true story of what happened at BJ’s Bingo Club in the Kitts Green district of Birmingham recently.

The famous entertainer had arrived at the club ahead of his performance there when a woman approached him and said: “You’re not the real Jimmy Cricket?”.

Jimmy, 71, relates the tale in his latest column in the Preston-based Lancashire Evening Post newspaper.

And he also talks about a mysterious ‘Mr X’.

Click on the image above to read an expanded view of the full article.

Tune in to ‘Gilly’s Comedy Gala for Comic Relief’

Jimmy Cricket's Lancashire Post columnAn optician who is about to realise her dream of performing stand-up comedy at the Blackpool Opera House is the subject of Jimmy Cricket’s latest newspaper column.

Famous entertainer Jimmy talks in the Lancashire Evening Post about Sarah Morgan – an optometrist by profession – whom he first met last October on a BBC Radio Lancashire show hosted by John Gillmore.

“When Sarah asked my advice around getting on in the entertainment business, I asked her what would be her dream gig,” explains Jimmy, 71.

“She replied: ‘Jimmy, to play the Blackpool Opera House.’

“Then today something wonderful happened. I received an email from Gilly’s [John Gillmore] producer Gary, which broadly read: ‘Great news, Jimmy. Sarah is to appear at – wait for it – the Blackpool Opera House.’

“‘We’ve organised a show there on Friday 24 March. It’s called ‘Gilly’s Comedy Gala for Comic Relief’ and Sarah is headlining it. It’ll be broadcast on BBC Radio Lancashire from 2.15pm till 4pm. We’d love you to come and introduce her!'”

“Try to stop me,” says Jimmy.

“You know, folks, it’s special to realise your dream, but to help somebody else to realise theirs is just as special.

“Try to tune in if you can.”

Lancashire milkman who became a show organiser

Jimmy Cricket's Lancashire Evening Post columnJimmy Cricket talks  in his latest newspaper column about a forthcoming show in Lancashire – and the local milkman who organised it.

The famous entertainer appears at the All Saints Church Hall in Hesketh Bank on Saturday 8 April in a Tom Shorrock production.

Jimmy, 71, explains in the Preston-based Lancashire Evening Post that Tom Shorrock is a milkman in the Walmer Bridge area of Lancashire who about 10 years ago arranged for the comedian to appear at the local village hall.

He says: “That first show was a rip-roaring sellout. Flushed with success, Tom booked some more shows with really good acts.

“Not big names off the telly, but good, solid bread-and-butter bands acts like 40s swing bands the Jive Aces and The Swing Commanders… Tom’s shows were the talk of the community.

“Alas, dear readers, nothing lasts for ever. For various reasons, the shows discontinued and those halcyon days became a distant memory.

“Wait, there’s more; you can’t keep a good man down. A few months ago, the Jive Aces rang Tom up to enquire whether they could appear in another show at Walmer Bridge.”

The village hall was booked up, but they used the All Saints Church Hall instead and it proved such a popular venue that Tom contacted Jimmy to see if he would also appear there.

Tom Shorrock’s number for tickets for the 8 April event, for which all profits will go to Breast Cancer UK, is 01772 613460.

Bruce Forsyth: Our living room friend for decades

Jimmy Cricket's January column in the Lancashire Evening Post

Jimmy Cricket has described fellow entertainer Sir Bruce Forsyth as “an all-round performer of the highest calibre”.

Sir Bruce – known affectionately as ‘Brucie’ – hosted popular shows like the The Generation Game and Play Your Cards Right. More recently, he has presented Strictly Come Dancing.

In his January column for the Preston-based Lancashire Evening Post, Jimmy says he has “been our living room friend for seven decades”.

The Irish comedian adds: “Bruce has enthralled, entertained and regaled us. He belongs to that elite band of all-round entertainers, like Sammy Davis Jnr and Roy Castle, who made versatility their stock in trade. You name it, Brucie could do it.”

There have been reports that Sir Bruce, 88, has been too ill to appear on TV over the past few months and Jimmy says: “Let’s hope he’s back to full fitness soon.”

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, folks!

Jimmy Cricket's Christmas card features new US president Donald TrumpDear readers,

I cannot believe 2016 is coming to an end and the Christmas season is once more upon us.

This year has been a fantastic one for me personally as it all started back in January with a service led by the Bishop of Salford to formally award me with my Papal Knighthood.

During the year I have also been fortunate to have:

·         Been involved in some great shows, such as the You Must Be Joking, which toured Northern Ireland back in the spring, and the opening weekend of The Good Old Days autumn season at the world-famous City Varieties Theatre in Leeds

·         Made a couple of appearances alongside my friend Tony Crane and the iconic 60s band The Merseybeats

·         Had trips to Spain to appear in some lovely venues around the Costa Blanca region

·         Paid visits to the Warner Leisure sites at Nidd Hall in Harrogate and Bembridge on the Isle of Wight

·         Did a spring season at the Lyndene Hotel in Blackpool

·         Continued to write a monthly column in the Preston-based Lancashire Evening Post

·         And managed, at long last, to launch a new Christmas CD for the Francis House Children’s Hospice – a project I’ve been wanting to get off the ground for a couple of years. As I write this, I am nearing sales of more than 1,300 from this year’s festive period.

This Christmas I am at the White Rose Theatre in Leeds featuring in a panto production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

And then when we get into 2017, I immediately fly off to Tenerife for an appearance there early in the New Year!

And there’s more…

… Other highlights for 2017 include a return to the Benidorm Palace in March alongside Gerry and the Pacemakers; another residency back at the Lyndene Hotel in Blackpool over the winter, spring and the autumn; teaming up with my pals from  show band group Clubsound for a night in Northern Ireland In April; a visit to the Wayside Cheer Hotel in Guernsey over the Easter weekend; a voyage with Cruise & Maritime Voyages around the Faroe Islands in July; and plenty more to keep me out of mischief!

If you see me advertised at any venue near you in 2017, please do come along and say ‘Hi’!

That reminds me… can I thank all those who over the last year have either seen one of my shows, or browsed this website, or bought one of my CDs or DVDs.

All that remains for me to say, dear readers, is have a happy Christmas and a great start to the New Year!

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