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‘I enjoyed that Cocker!’ The first time I met Bobby Ball 150 150 mhamer

‘I enjoyed that Cocker!’ The first time I met Bobby Ball

Jimmy Cricket's Lancashire Post column about the late Bobby Ball

Jimmy Cricket remembers the late, great Bobby Ball in his newspaper column for November.

Bobby, one half of the famous comedy double act Cannon and Ball, died at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in October aged 76.

The Oldham-born actor and comedian had tested positive for Covid-19.

Bobby had also starred in several popular sitcoms.

They included Not Going Out, Last of the Summer Wine and Benidorm.

In his latest column in the Lancashire Post, Jimmy recalls his first meeting with Bobby and Tommy.

He says: “I first met Bobby Ball at the Candlelight Club in Oldham.

“I had just come off stage and my friend, the singer Jonathan Young, told me that he and his partner Tommy were standing at the bar.

“And they seemed to be enjoying my act.

“Although at that time they had not broken into television, they were a very popular act in the clubs around the country.

‘Brothers in showbusiness’

“I was keen to meet up with them, so I changed quickly and headed for the bar.

“Tommy at the time was engrossed in a conversation with someone, but Bobby Ball shook my hand warmly.

“He said to me: ‘I enjoyed that Cocker, they were a tough crowd, but you got them in the end.

“‘I loved the visual stuff that you did.'”

Jimmy also recalled: “When I found out later Bobby was a neighbour of mine in Rochdale, I rang to tell him that I had written a sketch for him and Tommy in which they played two First Aid Men.

“He invited me to his home where I met his lovely wife Yvonne.

“During our conversation he told me something that really resonated with me.

“He said to me: ‘Jimmy as you develop your on-stage character you’ll die less and less.’

”It was an incredibly insightful thing to say and I treasured the fact that he’d passed his keen knowledge of comedy on to a fellow pro.”

Jimmy finishes his column by saying: “A few months ago before it was offered funding, I tweeted about the Grand Theatre in Blackpool’s future being in doubt.

“Bobby retweeted the message.

“We were brothers in showbusiness trying to save a beautiful theatre for future generations.

“He will be sadly missed by all his friends in the entertainment industry as well as his many fans.”

‘Wonderful news’ about Blackpool’s Grand Theatre! 150 150 mhamer

‘Wonderful news’ about Blackpool’s Grand Theatre!

Wonderful news to start the week! Grand Theatre Successful COVID-19 Recovery Grant - Blackpool Grand Theatre

Jimmy Cricket has welcomed the news that the Blackpool Grand Theatre is to get a government recovery grant.

It was suggested in August the theatre could close because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Management had warned the venue might have to shut unless the UK government intervened.

Like other provincial theatres, which depend largely on box office receipts to keep going, it has not received any income since the lockdown began.

Popular comedian Jimmy said at the time that the closure of the iconic theatre would be a “tragedy”.

But the theatre, which first opened in 1894, has succeeded in its application for £483,666 to the government’s COVID-19 Recovery Grant Scheme.

Jimmy described it on social media as “wonderful news”.

‘Absolute lifeline’

The grant aims to support the theatre while it is unable to open with consistently financially viable productions.

The theatre’s website said it would pay to keep a small staff team in place to look after the building and its business until 31 March 2021. 

It will also underwrite the cost of unavoidable job losses and preparations to reopen with covid-secure provisions in place.

Additionally, it would help to rebuild the theatre’s reserves and enable it to return to full operation when possible.

Tony Stone, chairman of the charity which operates the Grand, said: “We are beyond grateful to be awarded this grant by the Government.

“It is an absolute lifeline. Since March we have been unable to earn any income as shows have cancelled or postponed.

“This additional grant makes the difference between permanent closure and the potential to return when it is safe and viable to do so.”

‘Fantastic grant’

John Grady, chairman of the Friends of the Grand, said: “In normal times we stuff envelopes, tear tickets and sell coffee to thousands of loyal customers.

“Since March we have been unable to support our favourite theatre as it has been unable to open.

“We realise that we still don’t know when this will be possible.

“But this fantastic grant will, at least, mean that we can prepare to return when circumstances allow.”

Ruth Eastwood, the theatre’s chief executive, welcomed the news “with very mixed feelings”.

‘Tremendous support’

She said the entire team were at risk of redundancy and in consultation about reduced terms and conditions of employment.

“With no work and no place of work available to our 57-strong team and the Furlough scheme ending, we have no choice but to reduce the headcount at the theatre,” she explained.

“This is to ensure we can slow down the speed with which cash is flowing out of our reserves.

“I’d like to thank my dedicated and hard-working team, plus board members and volunteers, for their tremendous support and forbearance at this difficult time.”

Also read: Losing the Grand Theatre in Blackpool would be a ‘tragedy’

‘TV’s Irish comedy legend’ back at Blackpool hotel 150 150 mhamer

‘TV’s Irish comedy legend’ back at Blackpool hotel

Wednesday 14th October at the Lyndene Hotel, entertainment with excellent vocalist Benjamin Moss and comedy from TV's Irish Comedy Legend Jimmy Cricket. Show starts at 6.00pm with Resident keyboard player Ray Bentley followed by Host & Compere Nick Jones.

Jimmy Cricket continues his shortened season this week at a popular Blackpool hotel, which bills him as “TV’s Irish comedy legend”.
The evergreen entertainer returns to the Lyndene on Wednesday for his second appearance of the month there.
The hotel posted on Facebook: “Wednesday 14th October at the Lyndene Hotel, entertainment with excellent vocalist Benjamin Moss and comedy from TV’s Irish Comedy Legend Jimmy Cricket.
“Show starts at 6.00pm with Resident keyboard player Ray Bentley followed by Host & Compere Nick Jones.”
Jimmy has been appearing at the Lyndene Hotel for several years.
The Belfast-born funnyman had been scheduled to do two shows a night on 23 dates during 2020.
However, his summer performances could not go ahead because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government placed the United Kingdom into national lockdown in late March.

Unique venue

But the reopening of hotels and other entertainment venues meant Jimmy could return to the Lyndene several weeks ago.

Three compered acts usually perform twice per night, once each in different lounges at the Lyndene.

The Lyndene Hotel, perched on the seafront, is one of Blackpool’s unique venues as it welcomes tourists and visitors all year round.

It offers a series of seasonal packages around the Blackpool illuminations and Christmas.

Jimmy Cricket will do a New Year's Eve show at the Lyndene Hotel in Blackpool

Jimmy is in his fifth season at the Lyndene Hotel.

See this year’s dates below* and visit the hotel’s website here.

Also read: The Blackpool-illuminations and wonderful-in-laws!

* Note that any scheduled dates for the rest of 2020 are subject to change or cancellation depending on measures imposed during the pandemic.Returning to what has become my second home working alongside many talented singers and old friends like @MALFORDUK , my thanks goes to Claire @TowerTopEnts and @LyndeneHotel the Manager Paul, and all the Team members for their hospitality and support over the last four years

The Blackpool illuminations and wonderful in-laws! 150 150 mhamer

The Blackpool illuminations and wonderful in-laws!

Had a great social distancing, hand sanitising, mask wearing evening with our wonderful in-laws Ali and Jim Martin at Blackpool’s favourite @LyndeneHotel last night alongside the eye catching and traditional illuminations!
Jimmy Cricket enjoyed the Blackpool illuminations and meeting up with some relatives.
The popular Northern Irish comedian was at the Lyndene Hotel for his latest shows there.
He posted on social media: “Had a great social distancing, hand sanitising, mask wearing evening with our wonderful in-laws Ali and Jim Martin at Blackpool’s favourite @LyndeneHotel last night alongside the eye catching and traditional illuminations! Performing arts

Jimmy posted some photos, including of the world-famous Blackpool lights.

He has been appearing at the Lyndene Hotel for several years.

The all-round entertainer had been scheduled to do two shows a night on 23 dates during 2020.

However, the summer performances could not go ahead because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government placed the United Kingdom into lockdown in late March.

Fifth season

But the reopening of hotels and other entertainment venues meant Jimmy could return to the Lyndene at last recently.

Two or three acts usually perform twice per night, once each in different lounges at the Lyndene.

The Lyndene Hotel, perched on the seafront, is one of Blackpool’s unique venues as it welcomes tourists and visitors all year round.

Jimmy Cricket will do a New Year's Eve show at the Lyndene Hotel in Blackpool

Its website says that it offers more than 141 fully equipped and tastefully decorated en suite bedrooms.

Jimmy is in his FIFTH season at the Lyndene Hotel.

See this year’s dates below* and visit the hotel’s website here.

* Note that any scheduled dates for the rest of 2020 are subject to change or cancellation depending on measures imposed during the pandemic.Returning to what has become my second home working alongside many talented singers and old friends like @MALFORDUK , my thanks goes to Claire @TowerTopEnts and @LyndeneHotel the Manager Paul, and all the Team members for their hospitality and support over the last four years

Lyndene return: Wonderful to get back to ‘normality’ 150 150 mhamer

Lyndene return: Wonderful to get back to ‘normality’

Was wonderful to get back to what seemed like a sense of normality tonight, at the #LyndeneHotel while social distancing and washing hands!

Jimmy Cricket was delighted to return to his favourite Blackpool hotel recently.

The famous Northern Irish comedian has been appearing at the popular Lyndene Hotel for several years.

He was scheduled to do two shows a night on 23 dates during 2020.

However, the summer performances could not go ahead because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government placed the United Kingdom into lockdown in late March.

But the reopening of hotels and other entertainment venues meant Jimmy could return to the Lyndene at last.

And he was clearly happy after his first show back there last week.

Jimmy, 74, said: “Was wonderful to get back to what seemed like a sense of normality tonight, at the #LyndeneHotel while social distancing and washing hands! ????

His return was also welcomed on social media, where the comments included:

  • Well done Jimmy Cricket people need to laugh and forget the negativity of what’s happening, looking forward to seeing you at the Comedy Lounge
  • Well done and welcome back!
  • Bravo Jimmy ???? ???? ???? Many more to come i hope.????
  • Make em laugh Jimmy , just what the Doc ordered
Two or three acts usually perform twice per night, once each in different lounges at the Lyndene.
Every night of the year

The Lyndene Hotel, perched on the seafront, is one of Blackpool’s unique venues as it welcomes tourists and visitors all year round.

Jimmy Cricket will do a New Year's Eve show at the Lyndene Hotel in Blackpool

Its website says that it offers more than 141 fully equipped and tastefully decorated en suite bedrooms.

“The Lyndene Hotel offers superb compered entertainment EVERY NIGHT of the year,” it adds.

Jimmy is in his FIFTH season at the Lyndene Hotel.

See this year’s dates below* and visit the hotel’s website here.

* Note that any scheduled dates for the rest of 2020 are subject to change or cancellation depending on measures imposed during the pandemic.Returning to what has become my second home working alongside many talented singers and old friends like @MALFORDUK , my thanks goes to Claire @TowerTopEnts and @LyndeneHotel the Manager Paul, and all the Team members for their hospitality and support over the last four years

Losing the Grand Theatre in Blackpool would be a ‘tragedy’ 150 150 mhamer

Losing the Grand Theatre in Blackpool would be a ‘tragedy’

Jimmy Cricket says the closure of the iconic Grand Theatre in Blackpool would be a "tragedy" for future generationsJimmy Cricket says the closure of the iconic Grand Theatre in Blackpool would be a “tragedy” for future generations.

The theatre, which was almost demolished in 1972, could be closed because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Management warned it would shut unless the government intervened.

Most of the 57 staff were furloughed during the lockdown.

They could be left redundant when the job-saving scheme ends on 31 October.

A charitable trust has run the theatre since 1972, when local campaigners saved it from the bulldozers.

Among them were entertainers such as Sir Ken Dodd and BBC broadcaster Alistair Cooke.

It reopened in March 1981 with a performance of The Merchant of Venice starring Timothy West and Prunella Scales.

Like other provincial theatres which depend largely on box office receipts to keep going, the venue has had no income since the lockdown began.

All tickets were refunded for cancelled shows and plays.

We must all get together

The theatre, which first opened in 1894, had applied for a £500,000 government grant to keep it going until it might be able to put shows on in January.

However, if social distancing measures were still in place then, it would not make the shows viable and also the money would have run out.

Jimmy said: “We must all get together to save the Grand in Blackpool folks.

“To deprive future generations of this wonderful theatre would be a tragedy.”

His post on Twitter attracted hundreds of likes and retweets as well as some comments.

Also read: Grand Theatre in Blackpool hosts charity concert

External link: Blackpool’s Grand Theatre facing closure amid coronavirus pandemic

New Twitter profile photo is ‘Laurel and Hardy combined’! 150 150 mhamer

New Twitter profile photo is ‘Laurel and Hardy combined’!

Jimmy Cricket's new Twitter profile photo

Jimmy Cricket has changed his Twitter profile picture with a drawn portrait of him.

A friend, whose account is Steve Ace Luff on Facebook, sent what he describes as “pop art” to the famous comedian.

Jimmy expressed his gratitude for the drawing.

He said: “Wow Steve it is very life like! Thank you for this, it is very much appreciated! Stay safe my friend!”

Steve told Jimmy:  “We’ve met a few times Jimmy. You remember it too, Blackpool storm, and you were on stage on the pier.

“Waves were crashing, freezing cold and you were on stage in a nappy performing a comedy sketch
“You were a true professional carried on until the end even though some rain.Jimmy Cricket's new Twitter profile photo

“I loved that show it was special due to you carrying on against literally everything being thrown at the theatre.

“Years later, we met again in Worthing and I reminded you in the break – you re-told the experience to the audience.”
The illustration has been well received on social media.
Gerry Molumby commented: “So you Jimmy with a tinge of Laurel and Hardy combined!”
Another poster said it “looked great”, while one called Jimmy a “national treasure”.

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are arguably the most famous of all double comedy acts.

They performed during the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema.

The pair became well known during the late 1920s to the mid-1940s for their slapstick comedy.

Laurel played the clumsy friend of the pompous Hardy.

Also read: Paying tribute to Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy

Blackpool big night out