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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.

Jimmy returns to Darlington for panto – 21 years after his last appearance! 150 150 mhamer

Jimmy returns to Darlington for panto – 21 years after his last appearance!

Jimmy Cricket in panto costume

Jimmy Cricket will be appearing in the Darlington Civic Theatre’s pantomime at Christmas in a version of Cinderella.

This winter seasonal offering will feature Jimmy alongside “Dancing with Ice” sensation Ray Quinn and Deena Payne – who appeared on “Emmerdale” for 18 years.

Interestingly, this will be quite a return for Jimmy to Darlington. The last time he appeared in the Theatre’s Pantomime was 21 years ago and ironically it was also a version of Cinderella! Back then in 1990 he played the role of Buttons, although this year he is lined up for the part of Baron Hardup.

“That 1990 pantomime season was a real hoot!” says Jimmy. “The Chuckle Brothers were playing the part of the Brokers Men.”

Jimmy added: “Inbetween shows Barry Chuckle and I would go across to Crombies restaurant to have something to eat and Barry would pick up a salt cellar and say ‘to you, to me’ and have me in hysterics!”

Jimmy is thrilled to not only be back in Darlington and working with such a wonderful cast, he is also really pleased to be back working for QDOS Pantomimes. This is a company Jimmy believes puts enchantment into every single production that they do.