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Lancashire Post

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

 

Borrowing Frank Manning’s suit landed me in trouble! 150 150 mhamer

Borrowing Frank Manning’s suit landed me in trouble!

The night I borrowed Frank Mannings' suit

Sifting through some old photographs reminded Jimmy Cricket about the time he borrowed a suit off fellow comedian Frank Manning.

Northern Irish entertainer Jimmy tells the funny tale in his latest newspaper column.

Writing in the Lancashire Post, he says: “Going through old photos during lockdown can conjure up some showbiz memories.

“It was the early eighties and I  was going through the airport in Jersey with Mrs Cricket and my three small children.

“I noticed comedian Bernard Manning in the distance. Now, knowing Bernard’s penchant for making sharp retorts to fellow entertainers and knowing also that we had to pass him, I girded my loins.

“Bernard didn’t let me down; as we approached him, he let rip in his inimitable way as  his bull-throated vocals went into full throttle.

“‘What’s this, the von Trapp family? Don’t you ever go to sleep at night… haven’t you heard of Horlicks?’

“Phew! Was I glad to make it to the other side?! To be honest, folks, I was relieved. At least he didn’t swear.

“However, this column isn’t about Bernard, but about his brother Frank. We have to go back a further 10 years for this story.

“It’s the early seventies and I was a struggling comedian trying to make my way in the Northern Clubland.

“A friend told me about this great second-hand shop in Manchester he’d discovered that sold clothes that had been discarded by famous Entertainers.

I looked the ‘bees knees’

“He told me excitedly that there was a suit in the window that had been worn by the famous singing star of the fifties, Frankie Vaughan.

“I rushed down, bought it and for my next stage appearance I looked the ‘bees knees’ (this was way before the hat and wellies).

“When I was offered a week’s cabaret in a club in Newquay, Cornwall, I jumped in the car and headed off.

“Halfway through the journey, I realised I’d forgotten my new stage suit.

“When I arrived at the club, Frank Manning was there to greet me.

“He told me he was Bernard’s brother and he was not only the club compere but he was the club owner as well.

“I thought I better come clean. ‘Frank,’ I said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’ve forgotten to bring my stage suit!’

“He rolled his eyes and mumbled: ‘Oh no, what have they sent me?’

Vest full of holes

“Then he eye-balled me up and down and said: ‘Alright, you can borrow one of mine.’ What a gesture! And what a relief!

“So that night I went on stage wearing the club owner’s suit!

“Now, I have to tell you this folks, so come closer.

“I was in my late 20s and I did a very visual and zany act back then.

“It entailed doing a cod strip where I threw off my jacket, shirt and bow tie to reveal a vest full of holes.

“Then I would take down my pants and underneath was a pair of long straggly brown shorts. I then took out a safari hat from my  case and did a jungle routine.

“I thought it went well, but my euphoria was short-lived for when I came off stage, Frank was waiting for me with a face like thunder.

“This time his eyes weren’t rolling; they were fixed on me with an icy stare.

Lasting legacy

“‘Do you know how much I paid for that suit?’ he shouted. ‘How dare you trail it across the stage!’

“He was still ranting as he turned and headed through the kitchen. I chased after him trying to explain: ‘Frank, it’s part of the act… I didn’t realise … look, I’ll get it cleaned for you.’

“It was to no avail – Frank was inconsolable.

“Well, you know what they say, a new day, a new dawn.

“I had Frank’s suit cleaned and Mrs Cricket sent my Frankie Vaughan suit by rail via Red Star.

“Frank and I made it up and for the rest of the week we got on like a house on fire.

“Although Frank is no longer with us, he’s left us a lasting legacy in Cornwall.

“If you drive into the centre of Truro you’ll see a big shiny building with the words, ‘Manning’s Hotel’ in big bold letters.

“Keep safe readers and don’t forget to join me for my next column.”

Also read: Jimmy recalls January jab in latest LEP column

Jimmy recalls January jab in latest LEP column 150 150 mhamer

Jimmy recalls January jab in latest LEP column

Hi folks! This is the latest @leponline column about the January morning when I got my first jab @RDaleRiverside by the very jovial @JivaDr (Dr Mo MBE), my thanks to @RochdaleCouncil for organising the vaccine programme so well. #COVID19Vaccines

Jimmy Cricket has been talking about his first vaccination jab against Covid-19 in his latest newspaper column.

The article is in the 12 April edition of the Lancashire Post.

In the column, Jimmy recalls visiting Riverside One in Rochdale, where he lives.

He says: “How things have changed during these lockdowns.

“It used to be that if some­body crossed the road when they saw you coming it was either that they didn’t want to speak to you or they owed you money.

“Now when they do it you shout thanks to them for helping to stop the spread of the virus.

“It’s the same when you meet an old friend in the street.

“Instead of shaking hands, you now do a quick touch of the elbows then step back, have a few quick words and then you’re on your way.

Full vaccinated

“However, as I write this, we’ve all had a very emotional reflection day to mark the fact that the first lockdown happened one year ago, and with the news that they’re not far off vaccinating 1m people a day there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

“I myself being a whipper snapper of 75 years of age when I got my first jab here where I live in Rochdale at the Riverside Library.

“Although it was a cold shivery January morning when we all queued up out­side, inside our hearts were leaping for joy at the thought of getting the inoculation that would ultimately pro­vide us with the passport to get back to normality.

“I went public with it and my friend Billy Sherrin, the Rochdale Mayor, arranged to have the Rochdale Council official photographer to take a piccie of me getting my jab.”

Famous funnyman Jimmy has now had both doses of the coronavirus vaccination.

The popular Northern Irish entertainer updated his Facebook profile last month with the graphic below, saying ‘fully vaccinated’.

He has encouraged everybody else to have the vaccination the same when their time comes.

Very small numbers of people have been admitted to hospital with Covid several weeks after having one vaccine dose, a study of UK patients shows.

Jimmy Cricket has had his second vaccination jab to protect against Covid

Several months ago, Jimmy devised a perfect little ditty to keep our spirits going during the coronavirus lockdown.

The comedian adapted the words of an old war-time favourite, Roll out the Barrel.

He recorded his very own version for YouTube, called Roll out the Vaccine.

Roll out the Barrell

The UK government has said every adult in the country can have a coronavirus vaccine by autumn this year.

Roll out the Barrel was particularly popular worldwide during World War II.

Sing along to Jimmy’s Roll out the Vaccine song

Casual chat with a workman led to my first DVD! 150 150 mhamer

Casual chat with a workman led to my first DVD!

Hi folks this months @leponline is a little story about how we got everyone onboard, which created work for a video recording company, while raising funds for a Charity, while producing my live DVD! #keepvarietyalive

The unusual story of how Jimmy Cricket ended up producing his first DVD is told in his latest newspaper column.

Pull Your Seats Forward was created by the famous comedian’s family company, Wellie Boot Productions, more than 10 years ago.

Belfast-born Jimmy produced the DVD in response to the overwhelming public clamour that suggested there was a real demand for a recording of his stand-up entertainment.

It was filmed at the Royal Court Theatre in Bacup, Lancashire, near Jimmy’s adopted home of Rochdale in Greater Manchester.

The DVD is an hour and 10 minutes long.

It includes Jimmy’s favourite routines, a phone call and letter from his mammy and 20 minutes of extras.

In his March column for the Lancashire Post, Jimmy reveals how the DVD came about.

I’d just pulled into the garage of the house in the new housing estate we’d just moved into when one of the workmen who was completing work on one of the other houses approached me.

“You’ve upset somebody up there. haven’t you?”

“I beg your pardon?” I asked him in a puzzled tone.

Leap of faith

“You’ve upset one of the big boys in television….that’s why you’re not on anymore.”

Before I could answer him, he was straight in: “Look, you don’t have to answer me but I just want you to know I enjoyed what you did.”

I mumbled “thank you!” and he headed back to work.

After I’d entered the house, I thought maybe I should have invited this chap in, give him a cup of tea and explain that I hadn’t really upset anybody but television was changing.

The variety shows I performed on were giving way to reality/fly-on-the-wall type programmes which I wasn’t really interested in.

But then I thought if there were more people out there like that workman, how could I get my product out to them?

So, in a gigantic leap of faith, I decided to produce and finance my own DVD.

I called a local theatre – in this case the Royal Court in Bacup.

We fixed a date and I raided the piggy bank and sent them the hire charge of £500.

The next step was to hire a camera crew.

I rang up a gentleman called Paul McGreen who ran a company called Dash Productions.

He said he could do me a deal but it would still cost £2,000 to pay for the crew.

Bar of chocolate

So I had an idea how we could make this work – and help a charitable cause at the same time.

I rang around all my friends and explained that the theatre held 400; if they all bought a ticket for £10, after I’d paid for the cameras I would give the rest to our local charity.

And so, on a sunny evening in September in 2008, we shot our video in front of a full house.

Mrs Cricket put programmes on everybody’s seat with a picture of Springhill Hospice in Rochdale, and a place where they could fill in their name and address if they wanted to get the first copies for half price.

Oh, and she also left them a bar of chocolate to munch on during the interval.

The morning after the show, I turned up at the hospice with a cheque for £2,000 and we had a 90-minute DVD called Pull Your Seats Forward.

As I write this, I’m coming up to 9,000 sales.

Do you know what makes me really proud, folks? The whole family can sit round and watch.

Pull Your Seats Forward can be bought via the Go Shopping page on this website or at one of Jimmy’s live shows (once they resume).

Read the Lancashire Evening Post online here

 

‘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.”

Tommy Handley: The life and times of a great comic 150 150 mhamer

Tommy Handley: The life and times of a great comic

the life and times of this great comic Tommy Handley
Tommy Handley is the subject of Jimmy Cricket’s latest column in the Lancashire Post.
The Liverpool-born comedian was particularly successful in the 1940s.

He was best known for the BBC radio programme It’s That Man Again (ITMA), which was broadcast between 1939 and 1949.

Tommy established himself as a comedian and singer on the music hall circuit and was a pioneer broadcaster, performing as a solo entertainer and as an actor in sketches.

His greatest success came in the late 1930s with the comedy show It’s That Man Again, which, after an uneasy beginning, became very popular.

Tommy starred as a good-natured, fast-talking anchor-man around whom a cast of eccentric comic characters revolved.

He died suddenly in 1949 at the age of just 56.

Jimmy’s column about Tommy appeared in the 7 September edition of the Preston-based Lancashire Post.

The Northern Irish comedian tweeted about it.

He said: “Hi folks! Here is my September @leponline column, where I reflect on the life and times of this great comic.”

Also read: Lyndene return: Wonderful to get back to ‘normality’

Performing on cruise ships is not all plain sailing 150 150 mhamer

Performing on cruise ships is not all plain sailing

Hi folks! Here is my July @leponline sadly I have to report that this wonderful Passenger Shipping Company is no longer trading, and is now a casualty, and another repercussion of Covid 19. #StaySafe

Jimmy Cricket talks about performing on cruise ships in his latest newspaper column – and how it’s not always as idyllic as it sounds!

In the 27 July edition of the Lancashire Post, Jimmy recalls one particular time when things did not go to plan.

He posted a copy of his column (above) on social media and a full transcript of it is below.

As a postscript to his message, Jimmy said: “Hi folks! Here is my July @leponline 

“Sadly I have to report that this wonderful Passenger Shipping Company is no longer trading, and is now a casualty, and another repercussion of Covid 19. #StaySafe”

Scrumptious grub

You know I met my good lady on a cruise ship.

We stood on the deck looking out on the moonlight glimmering on the waves and she said, “You know you remind me of the sea”.

I said, “You mean I’m rough and rugged?”

She said, “No, you make me sick!”

I wish I had a disinfectant cleaned ten pound note for every person that’s said to me how much they envy me sailing round the world seeing all the sights and tucking into scrumptious grub and getting paid for the privilege.

Now I don’t want to seem ungrateful for all this.

And I’d be telling a lie if I said I didn’t pinch myself whenever looked out of the cabin window, as the ship sailed into breathtakingly beautiful places like Venice.

Having said all that, being a passenger and an entertainer on board are two very different things, especially if you are a comedian.

If you tickle their funny bone on the night it’s your turn to perform, you can strut around the decks the next morning with your chest out drinking in the compliments.

However, if your humour doesn’t appeal to them and you struggle during your spot, you feel like you want to hide in your cabin and get your meals pushed under the door.

Here’s the thing folks it may not be your fault because cruise ships, like life itself, can throw you a curve.

I’m going to give you an example and l warn you, if you’re of a nervous disposition then look away now.

A few years back, I was booked to do a stint on a cruise ship with one of the big cruise companies.

Collective groans

I flew to Honolulu via LA and joined the ship.

The next night after I arrived on board the Captain himself came on the intercom in the cabin to say he was very sorry but the ship had developed engine trouble and that when we docked in Auckland, New Zealand, it would have to stay there for a few days and we wouldn’t now be visiting Bora Bora, Wellington.

As he reeled off the names of these exotic places I could almost hear the collective groans of the passengers.

Remember this was a round-the-world cruise and most of them had paid a small fortune to be on there.

Some had even made arrangements to meet friends and family at these ports.

An air of despondency settled over the ship and the next morning a group of angry passengers attended a hastily arranged meeting to see what legal action could be taken against the shipping company.

The next night I was due to do my spot and I toyed with the idea of jumping over board and heading for the nearest shore.

It was either that or play to a roomful of disgruntled passengers and from where I stood on the deck the sharks seemed a much more pleasant option.

I finally succumbed to my senses and did my show. I won’t say I did badly but after my show they held a minute’s silence.

You’ll be happy to know, dear readers, that I’ve shook off the emotional scars from that incident and in Easter 2021 (lockdown permitting), I’ll be doing cabaret on a Maritime Cruises ship, The Columbus, and we’ll be stopping off at ports around Great Britain and the Channel Islands.

Stay safe and healthy.