Tag Archives: rochdale

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.

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!”.


Banjo duo, dancers and the three-tenner sketch at Stockport’s The Plaza

Stockport's Plaza Theatre

Jimmy Cricket returned to The Plaza variety theatre in Stockport at the weekend to do his fourth show there.

Other acts included Shep’s Banjo Duo and dancers from the Stockport-based Debut Arts academy.

The famous comedian, 72, had last performed there in January 2016 and was clearly delighted to be back.

Afterwards he tweeted: “Wonderful Sunday afternoon performing alongside Howard and Steve, Shep’s Banjo Duo, Debut Arts Academy, with Ted Doan Manager and actor who took the lead in the, “The 3 Tenner Sketch”, my thanks goes to Stage, Sound and Lighting, Lawerence, Ben and Pam.”

‘I was thrilled to perform in panto in Rochdale’

Jimmy Cricket tweeted he was thrilled in appear in a pantomime in his adopted hometown of Rochdale

Jimmy Cricket said he was thrilled in appear in a pantomime in his adopted home town of Rochdale.

Famous Northern Irish entertainer Jimmy played Professor Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington in both Ellesmere Port and in Rochdale.

Ellesmere Port Civic Centre staged the show until 20 December and Rochdale’s Gracie Fields Theatre from 22-31 December.

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

Jimmy tweeted: “What a thrill it was to play panto in my adopted home town of Rochdale, at the Gracie Fields Theatre. I ‘d like to thank all my friends and neighbours for supporting their local Theatre.”

The 72-year-old comedian also posted his thanks to everyone involved in the production of the panto, including his “wonderful” fellow cast members.

Jimmy Cricket tweeted his thanks to everyone involved in the panto

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

Jimmy Cricket: What I want for Christmas and Strictly Come Dancing

Jimmy Cricket appeared in the 50th edition of Rochdale Style

Jimmy Cricket was the subject of a special feature in the 50th edition of Rochdale Style.

The article about the Rochdale-based, Belfast-born comedian, 72, was in a question-and-answer format.

Among the questions were what does the Northern Irish entertainer want for Christmas.

His reply? “Peace or the box set of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers! I just watch Fred on YouTube and think he’s incredible. He’s a big inspiration to me.”

And when asked if he would appear on BBC’s popular Strictly Come Dancing, Jimmy said: “Oh Yes? Tomorrow!”

The Rochdale Style magazine is edited by actor Colin Meredith, a good friend of Jimmy.

Jimmy is currently playing Professor Fitzwarren in pantomime Dick Whittington, which is running at Rochdale’s Gracie Fields Theatre until New Year’s Eve.

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

Dick Whittington panto details


Jimmy Cricket praises sets for Christmas pantos

Dick WhittingtonJimmy Cricket has praised the sets for the pantos he is appearing in over the festive season.

Famous Northern Irish entertainer Jimmy plays Professor Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington, which opens in his adopted hometown of Rochdale on Friday (22 December).

Ellesmere Port Civic Centre staged the show until Wednesday and Rochdale’s Gracie Fields Theatre will now host it up to New Year’s Eve (22-31 December).

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

Jimmy tweeted that the sets were “some of the best I have worked with over the years!”.

Dick Whittington panto details


Dick Whittington panto opens in Ellesmere Port

All the panto cast members, including Jimmy Cricket, had lunch at The Flying Horse in RochdaleThe pantomime in which Jimmy Cricket is performing this festive season had its first show this weekend.

Famous Northern Irish entertainer Jimmy plays Professor Fitzwarren in that old favourite Dick Whittington in both Ellesmere Port and his adopted hometown of Rochdale.

Ellesmere Port Civic Centre will stage the show until Wednesday (20 December) and Rochdale’s Gracie Fields Theatre from Friday until New Year’s Eve (22-31 December).

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

All the cast members had a pre-panto lunch at The Flying Horse pub restaurant in Rochdale town centre. The venue was the Rochdale, Oldham & Bury pub of the year 2016.

Dick Whittington panto details

Francis House benefits from Rochdale ‘jam’ night

Warner Entertainments posted their thanks to Jimmy on Twitter

A children’s hospice in south Manchester benefited from Jimmy Cricket’s latest  ‘jam’ night in Rochdale.

The event, hosted by the famous Northern Irish entertainer and his wife May Marion every couple of months,  takes place in the lounge area of a local parish centre in his home town of Rochdale.

It started about a decade ago as an opportunity for Jimmy and other performers to try out new routines and is still going strong.

The famous entertainer has nicknamed those who come to regularly support these evenings as ‘Jimmy’s Jammers’.

At every event,  there is a raffle and the selling of refreshments, with all proceeds donated to a chosen charity.

Francis House Children’s Hospice, which is based in Didsburywas the beneficiary of the December jam night, which was also attended by Brian and Maxine Warner of Warner Entertainments.

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.”