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LEP column

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.

 

LEP column was epitaph to the ‘wonderful’ Vera Lynn 150 150 mhamer

LEP column was epitaph to the ‘wonderful’ Vera Lynn

Hi folks! I had no idea when I wrote this May @leponline column it would be as an epitaph to this wonderful performer and humanitarian. R.I.P. our Vera!

Jimmy Cricket’s latest newspaper column was devoted to Dame Vera Lynn – just weeks before she died.

Dame Vera passed away on Thursday (18 June) aged 103.

She was known the Forces’ Sweetheart, whose songs helped raise morale in World War Two.

The Queen, Prince Charles and Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney were among those to pay their respects to her.

People knew her best for her wartime anthem We’ll Meet Again.

Jimmy’s column in the Preston-based Lancashire Post on 18 May (above) was all about Dame Vera.

The headline read: Remembering the forces’ WWII sweetheart Vera Lynn.

He tweeted on the day she died: “Hi folks! I had no idea when I wrote this May@leponline column it would be as an epitaph to this wonderful performer and humanitarian.
“R.I.P. our Vera! Performing arts

The BBC reported: “Six weeks ago, ahead of the 75th anniversary of VE Day and during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Dame Vera said simple acts of bravery and sacrifice still define our nation.

“A week later, she became the oldest artist to get a top 40 album in the UK.”

The BBC recalled that Dame Vera had sold more than a million records by the age of 22.

The article added that she “was also remembered for singing The White Cliffs Of Dover, There’ll Always Be An England, I’ll Be Seeing You, Wishing and If Only I Had Wings.

“The Queen echoed her famous WW2 anthem during a speech to Britons who were separated from families and friends during the coronavirus lockdown in April, telling the nation: ‘We will be with our friends again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again.'”

‘The sad but brave story behind the death of WS Gilbert, partner of Sullivan’ 150 150 mhamer

‘The sad but brave story behind the death of WS Gilbert, partner of Sullivan’

This month's @leponline column tells the sad but brave story behind the death of WS Gilbert, partner of Sullivan who together wrote, "The Pirates of Penzance", amongst many more!

Jimmy Cricket talks about one of the greatest theatrical partnerships in history in his latest monthly column in the Lancashire Post.

The famous Northern Irish comedian has been writing regularly for the Preston-based daily newspaper for the past few years.

He posted on social media: “This month’s @leponline column tells the sad but brave story behind the death of WS Gilbert, partner of Sullivan who together wrote, “The Pirates of Penzance”, amongst many more!”

Gilbert and Sullivan were the Victorian-era partnership of the playwright Sir WS Gilbert and the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan.

The two men collaborated on 14 comic operas between 1871 and 1896, of which HMS PinaforeThe Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado are among the best known.

Paying tribute to Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy 150 150 mhamer

Paying tribute to Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy

 pay tribute to a fellow Irishman, and to the Silver Screen's Stan and Ollie, with a great performance from @Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly

Jimmy Cricket writes about his admiration for a legendary comedy duo in his latest newspaper column.

In the 1 April edition of the Lancashire Post, the popular Northern Irish entertainer reviews a recent film about the careers of Englishman Stan Laurel and American Oliver Hardy.

They acted during the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema and became well known during the late 1920s to the mid-1940s for their slapstick comedy. Laurel played the clumsy friend of the pompous Hardy.

Jimmy’s column begins: I’ve just come back from doing my one man show at the Slapstick Comedy Festival in Bristol at the Studio adjoining the Old Vic Theatre. The festival was started by a guy called Chris Daniels who just loves visual and silent comedy.

“I did my live set sandwiched between movies of Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy up on the big wide screen. There’s been a resurgence of interest in Laurel and Hardy, mainly due to a biopic of the duo which went on general release in our cinemas recently called Stan and Ollie.

“In fact, I’ve been to see it twice. Well folks, our local Odeon Cinema here in Rochdale only charges a fiver to get in. It’s a moving, tender tribute to one of the funniest double acts ever to grace the silver screen; not only do Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel, and John C Reilly as Oliver Hardy get into the skin of these two lovable clowns, but the ladies that played their wives both give stunning performance as well.

“Nina Arianda plays Stan’s other half and Shirley Henderson is Ollie’s. I had a little inside information on this film. Steve Coogan’s Uncle Bernard takes his grandkids to the same school in Rochdale that I take mine, so I get some tasty nuggets of gossip in the playground.

“I looked at him enviously as he told me about getting the red carpet treatment when he got invited to the premiere of the movie up at the local cinema in Ulverston where Stan Laurel grew up. The only time I get to see a red carpet is when Mrs Cricket hands me the Hoover.”

Read Jimmy’s full column here

 

A look back to when Mrs Cricket was also surprised on TV’s This Is Your Life! 150 150 mhamer

A look back to when Mrs Cricket was also surprised on TV’s This Is Your Life!

Jimmy Cricket's May column in the Lancashire Evening Post

Jimmy Cricket has been recalling the day he was presented with the famous ‘big red book’ on This Is Your Life – and how his wife May also got a massive surprise!

In his latest column for the Lancashire Evening Post, Jimmy explained how in the late 1980s he had been asked by his publishers to go to London for the launch of his Letters From My Mammy book.

Jimmy was informed the event was going to take place on a building site the following day, when in reality he was going to be met by This Is Your Life presenter Eamonn Andrews.

In the popular and long-running show, the host would spring unexpectedly on a special guest, before going to a studio to take them through their life with the assistance of the ‘big red book’ and the help of friends and family.

The surprise element was a very important part of the show; if the guest heard about the plans beforehand, it would immediately be abandoned.

After arriving in London, Jimmy bumped into his sister-in-law Evelyn much to his amazement (and hers!), as she had moved to Australia several years earlier.

Evelyn had been asked to come back to appear on the show and clearly hadn’t expected to meet Jimmy in the street, but she managed to come up with a story that she had returned to Britain as a special surprise for her sister May, Jimmy’s wife.

Hence, as things turned out, Jimmy was able to turn the tables on May during the show by telling her that Evelyn was in fact there (May had been told her sister could not make it).

The show was broadcast on Wednesday 4 November, the eve of Eamonn Andrews’ death.

This Is Your Life was originally broadcast live, and alternated between on the BBC and  on ITV over the years.

Watch Jimmy’s show below:

Omagh pub, John Wayne & Dublin’s Abbey Theatre 150 150 mhamer

Omagh pub, John Wayne & Dublin’s Abbey Theatre

Jimmy Cricket has been recalling when he and his wife May came across a distinctive Northern Irish pub which is themed on a legendary film.

The famous entertainer made the recollection in a recent monthly column in the Preston-based Lancashire Evening Post.

He and Mrs Cricket noticed the pub, which has a thatched roof, while he was working at the nearby Strule Arts Centre theatre in Omagh.

The Sean Ogs pub is themed like the one in John Ford’s 1952 classic film The Quiet Man starring legendary actor John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, who was an Irish-born American actress and singer.

A black and white photograph on the wall of the pub shows the cast of the 1952 movie, as Jimmy, 71, discovered it was the setting for much of the action. The film, a comedy drama, won an Oscar for the best cinematography that year.

All the support actors were from the famous Abbey Theatre in Dublin.  It is also known as the National Theatre of Ireland and first opened its doors to the public on 27 December 1904.