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jimmy cricket column

Charlie Williams – one of the funniest men to grace a stage 150 150 mhamer

Charlie Williams – one of the funniest men to grace a stage

Hi folks! Paying tribute here to one of the funniest men that ever graced a stage, my friend the great Charlie Williams! #keepvarietyalive

Jimmy Cricket fondly remembered multi-talented trailblazer Charlie Williams in his latest newspaper column.

Writing in the Blackpool Gazette on Tuesday 24 May, Jimmy said Charlie had broken down racial barriers and had successful careers as both a comedian and a professional footballer.

Charlie was born in Yorkshire of Jamaican descent and was the first black comedian to make the big time on British TV.

He found fame on hit 1970s TV show The Comedians and developed the comedy catchphrase “me old flower”.

Others he appeared with on Granada’s The Comedians included Frank Carson, Tom O’Connor and Jim Bowen.

He went on to host the Golden Shot game show.

Previously, he had played professional football for Doncaster Rovers.

Charlie was awarded an MBE in 1966 for his charity work.

He died in 2006 at the age of 78, having been ill for some time with Parkinson’s and dementia.

Jimmy introduced his latest newspaper column on social media by describing his friend Charlie as “one of the funniest men that ever graced a stage”.

His column began: “I’ve been working on an autobiography dear read­er, but who hasn’t during the lockdowns, when we’ve had so much time on our hands?

“I think the trick is to revisit it now that things are back to normal.

Ronald Reagan’s 80 chapters

“To keep fired up, Mrs Cricket bought me a few autobiographies I expressed an interest in.

“The first one was Michael McIntyre and when I got to the end I said to her: ‘Look, Michael’s finished his life story at 23 chapters, I’m up to 29 chapters and I’ve still got a way to go.’

“She said: ‘I know, but he’s in his forties, you’re 76!’

“Ouch!

“I then opened Ronald Reagan’s autobiography: ‘Look!’ I said. “It took Ronnie 80 chapters to finish his.’

“‘Yes’, she said. ‘But he had two jobs. First, he was an actor, and then he became President of the United States!’

Won the nation’s hearts

“You know that got me thinking.

“It’s taking me all my time to make a living out of being a full-time comedian, so I’m in awe of anyone who can climb the lad­der in one job and then go into a totally different occupation and become a resounding success in that one as well.

“Older readers will remember a black comedian, Charlie Williams, who won the nation’s hearts when he came on the television programme The Comedians.

“Charlie’s wonderful Yorkshire accent endeared him to millions of fans.

“In fact, he was breaking down racial barriers way before the woke people came on the scene.

“However, I wonder how many people actually knew that Charlie had an illustrious career as a professional footballer, playing centre-half for Doncas­ter Rovers.

“As soon as Charlie reached retirement, a career in showbiz beckoned and he moved seamlessly from kicking a ball to holding a mic.

“Sadly, he developed Par­kinson’s Disease, but trouper that he was with the help of his friend Neil Crossland, he carried on touring.

“Neil helped him to dress, led him onstage and Charlie did his act sitting on a chair.

“I have a happy memory of them both coming over to my house in Rochdale, and we all swapped showbiz stories over lunch.”

Also read: Little and Large: It was a joy to work with them both

Hollywood stars and different accents – latest LEP column 150 150 mhamer

Hollywood stars and different accents – latest LEP column

Hollywood stars lived just down the road

Where some Hollywood stars were born and how accents differ around the country are the themes of Jimmy Cricket’s latest newspaper column.

The famous funnyman throws up some legendary acting names such as Sir Rex Harrison and Jaws star Robert Shaw in his Lancashire Evening Post July column.

Jimmy begins: “Do you know what readers when I found out we had more opticians in the UK than anywhere else in Europe, it was a real eye-opener.

“But that was nothing to do with the surprises that I got while watching a series on television.

“It was called something like Discovering So and So.

“And the So and So’s in this case were famous Hollywood stars.

“Each programme focused on a star and the gob-smacking moment usually came at the start!

“For instance, take Robert Shaw who starred in the Steven Spielberg blockbuster movie Jaws.

“He was actually born in Westhoughton in Lancashire. That’s just down the road from me here in Rochdale.

“I could have called in and had a cup of tea with him before he headed off to Hollywood.

“But you will never guess the next one – Sir Rex Harrison. Where was he born?

“Are you ready for this? Huyton! Near Liverpool. Yes, the man who played Professor Higgins and who taught Eliza the flower girl to talk proper English in the musical My Fair Lady was actually a Scouser!”

Read one of Jimmy’s previous columns in the LEP

See a collection of Jimmy’s columns over the past six years