Jimmy Cricket worked again recently with someone he describes as a “showbiz legend”.
The Northern Irish comedian was performing on a show at the Ivy Leaf Club in Whittlesey, Peterborough on Friday 19 October, which was organised by Johnny Mans and his production team in association with Barbara Lindsey.
Jimmy, 73, posted on social media: “Always a pleasure working for showbiz Legend and friend, Mr Johnny Mans, (in conjunction with Barbara Lindsey), alongside my other friend and musical arranger David Carter, with fellow pros Con and Dec, “The Bachelors” tonight at the Ivy Leaf Club!”
Johnny is the third generation of a showbiz family with his grandfather being a Yorkshire comedian and his grandmother a dancer with the Tiller Girls, a popular dance troupe famous for their high-kicking routines and who once counted former House Of Commons Speaker Baroness Boothroyd as a member.
His mother also became a Tiller Girl, as well as being a pantomime producer and a dance school teacher. Johnny’s six sisters were professional dancers, one of them touring with Arthur Lucan (Old Mother Riley) and another in Kirby’s Flying Ballet.
Johnny performed in his mother’s pantomime productions from the age of eight and after several years he developed his own comedy act and became one of the famous Carroll Levis discoveries, appearing on television from the Aston Studios in Birmingham.
Over the years Johnny appeared in theatres with star names of that era, including the famous American comedy duo The Bernard Brothers.
He also worked with Derek Roy, Jimmy Young, Marty Wilde, Ronnie Hilton and for a while joined the holiday camp world, first as a Redcoat and then a short spell as a Bluecoat, becoming an entertainment manager at the age of just 21.
The world of clubland also beckoned and he performed throughout the UK. After five summer seasons in Jersey in various productions, he eventually turned his hand to producing his own shows, being an agent and manager and also a concert promoter.
Since the early 1980s, he has been a prominent name in the entertainment world, having managed major stars such as Sir Norman Wisdom, Anne Shelton, Max Bygraves, Danny La Rue, Nicholas Parsons, Jon Pertwee and many other celebrities.
He has also produced and promoted shows for big names such as Des O’Connor, Cilla Black, The Platters, Bob Monkhouse, Val Doonican, Suzi Quatro, Little & Large, Tom O’Connor, John Inman and Dame Vera Lynn.
In 2009 he took over Encore magazine, printed every two months for the entertainment industry.
Charity is also a major part of Johnny’s life and over the past 40 years he has been involved with many fundraising organisations, including the Entertainment Artistes’ Benevolent Fund (now the Royal Variety Charity), the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and the British Heart Foundation.
Johnny, who is also a family man, has produced shows at Buckingham Palace in the company of several members of the Royal Family.