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Golden memories: Norman Barrett MBE 150 150 mhamer

Golden memories: Norman Barrett MBE

Norman Barrett, now 85, has worked with all the world's great circuses

Norman Barrett has worked with all the world’s great circuses, including in Blackpool

Jimmy Cricket has known and worked with many great fellow entertainers across nearly five decades in showbusiness.

In a special series of monthly articles starting today, Jimmy takes a trip down Memory Lane to recall some of the special people with whom he has shared the stage.

We begin with Norman Barrett MBE, the veteran British circus ringmaster.

Norman has made many appearances on television, including with Charlie Cairoli – the Italian-English clown, impressionist and musician – in the children’s television series Right Charlie.

Amazing career

He is well known for his act with performing budgerigars.

Norman, now 85, has worked with all the world’s great circuses and spent 25 years at Blackpool Tower Circus during an amazing career.

He was also the ringmaster of the Belle Vue Christmas Circus in Manchester in the 70s and 80s.

He appeared as the subject of This Is Your Life in 1990.

Norman was awarded an MBE in the 2010 New Year Honour’s list.

See Norman in action here.

Here, Jimmy remembers Norman in his own special way:

“I remember seeing Norman on television in the sixties. He was the ringmaster at the famous Tower Circus in Blackpool and he used to pop up at Christmas time.

“As well as introducing specialty acts from all over the world, he played straight man to the famous clown Charlie Cairoli. He got many a custard pie thrown in his face.

“However, Norman did a wonderfully unique act himself.

“He used to train budgies to run up ladders and push tiny bicycles.

“Norman learned to give instructions in different languages, so he used to take his act all over the world. He was particularly popular in Germany.

“Anyone that ever saw Norman’s act never looked at  a budgie in the same way again.

Slapstick kitchen routine

“I did four-week panto run with him at the Southport Theatre a few years back where he played Baron Hardup to my Buttons.

“We did a slapstick kitchen routine in which we were always putting in new stuff.

“So much so that my son Frank who was also in the panto used to say: ‘You guys really live on the edge!’

“What really used to tickle me was when I would visit Norman at his home in Blackpool…

“… You could see all the lights on in the bedroom upstairs so you knew Norman was putting his budgies through their paces to help them get used to the Circus spotlights.

“Thanks for the golden memories Norman.”

If you have any special memories of Norman or would like Jimmy to feature somebody in our special memories  series, you can do this in several ways:

Find out where Jimmy is performing and his other forthcoming shows by viewing all his tour dates on this website.

From Muddles to Milton Keynes (slideshow) 150 150 mhamer

From Muddles to Milton Keynes (slideshow)


Jimmy Cricket returned to action after his festive pantomime spell with  a show in Milton Keynes.

The well-known entertainer appeared at the Lovat Fields Retirement Village in Milton Keynes, which is part of a national chain run by the Extra Care organisation. Jimmy has appeared at some of their other sites over the years in St Helens, Warrington and Coventry.

This particular visit was organised by Mary Cooper, who is one of the residents at Lovat Fields and is involved in helping to arrange the entertainment programme. A big thanks to Mary for also sending in the slideshow photos of the night.

Jimmy said: “This was my first show after the Christmas pantomime season.

“It came after what is a traditional annual break for me during January, so it was wonderful to return to stand-up after four weeks of being Muddles in Snow White and to entertain at such a hospitable place with a wonderful audience!”

* Click on either of the arrow buttons above to view the slideshow.

Snow White panto – watch photo slideshow 150 150 mhamer

Snow White panto – watch photo slideshow


Jimmy Cricket’s final appearance in panto over the festive period was captured in pictures by a friend.

Gerry Molumby travelled from Nottingham to Preston earlier this month to watch famous entertainer Jimmy perform in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Charter Theatre.

Another of Jimmy’s friends, John Nolan, and his family came up from West Sussex, where he is the organiser of the annual Crawley Irish Festival.

Not only did Gerry get some great shots of Jimmy performing on stage, but he also tiptoed back stage before the final performance to obtain snaps of other members of the cast, including Prince Charming and Snow White (Adam Trembath and Kristina Castellina respectively).

Gerry also caught on camera the UK’s most famous ringmaster, Norman Barrett, who has been touring with Zippos circus over the last few years. Norman and his wife, Sally, had come to see Jimmy and they did not escape the photographer’s clicks either!

Gerry has now sent the photos and a report to the Irish Post – the English-based weekly newspaper for the Irish ex-pat community within the UK – with the hope of getting some coverage of his and John’s visit to see Jimmy in Preston.

* Click on either of the arrow buttons above to view the slideshow.