Posts Tagged :

newspaper column

D-Day landings: Many heroes included Paddy the pigeon 150 150 mhamer

D-Day landings: Many heroes included Paddy the pigeon

Next month (June) sees the celebrations for the D-Day landings.

Next month sees the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings – and Jimmy Cricket marks the occasion in his latest newspaper column.

The Normandy landings were the land and associated airborne operations which took place on 6 June 1944.

Codenamed Operation Neptune and widely referred to as D-Day, it involved the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II –  the largest seaborne invasion in history.

It commenced the liberation of France, and also the rest of Western Europe, and laid the foundations for the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Writing in the Blackpool Gazette and the Lancashire Evening Post, comedian Jimmy says: “As next month (June) sees the celebrations for the D-Day landings which took place 80 years ago, I always pause to think about the many entertainers who helped to boost the morale of our fighting troops.

Beautiful voice

My friend the late Frank Carson, who served in the forces himself, used to joke: ‘One day I saved the lives of 200 men – I shot the cook!’.

Then, of course, there was the Force’s Sweetheart the late great Vera Lynn.

[Vera Lynn’s songs helped raise morale duringWorld War Two. People knew her best for her wartime anthem We’ll Meet Again. She died aged 103 in 2020.

She was just a young girl vocalist back then and the only time she’d been out of the country was when she travelled to Holland to do a gig with a dance band.

However, she had a yearning to do her bit, and before she knew it, she was touring the swamps of the Borneo jungle in the sweltering heat, giving young soldiers a taste of home with her beautiful voice and melodic songs.

Feathered friend

A lot of the time she performed on the back of army trucks.

You know readers, this may sound funny but I always think of Vera’s pianist and accompanist Len Edwards, who always went with her and who risked life and limb to provide her musical backing.

He truly was an unsung hero.

Which leads me on to mention another hero from the Second World War, in this case a silent one.

His name was Paddy, and on the day of the D-day landings, he flew back all the way from Normandy in record time to provide valuable information that reassured everyone at home, that everything was going to plan and that our soldiers had made a successful landing.

The reason he did this without saying a word?

Paddy was a carrier pigeon and his coded message was tagged on to his foot.

Quiet thanks

But what made Paddy even more special was this…

… Of all the pigeon’s released from Normandy that day, he was the last one to make the journey and, guess what, he was the first one back to Hampshire.

But there’s more readers, come closer, what made his feat all the more remarkable was that not only did he have to contend with open-air fire, but the Nazis had placed specially trained hawks along the way to ambush him.

However, our feathered friend thwarted all their efforts and made it home safe and sound.

He did it in an astonishing four hours and 50 minutes, which became the fastest record by a message-carrier pigeon during the Normandy landings.

Paddy was honoured for his heroic achievements by being awarded the Dicken Medal on September the 1st, 1944.

The medal is given for gallantry or devotion to duty while serving in military conflict and is often known as the animal’s Victoria Cross.

He eventually returned to the place of his birth – Carnlough, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland, to be with his owner – Andrew Hughes.

He lived until 1954, dying at the age of 11.

In 2019 a plaque was unveiled in his honour in Car lough harbour.

So readers, if you ever cross the Irish Sea and take a trip along the Antrim coastline to drink in the beautiful scenery, make sure you stop off at Carnlough Harbour and pay a visit to Paddy’s plaque and give a quiet thanks for a silent hero.”

Also read: LEP column paid tribute to the ‘wonderful’ Vera Lynn

What made the late BBC Radio DJ Steve Wright so special… 150 150 mhamer

What made the late BBC Radio DJ Steve Wright so special…

Jimmy Cricket's newspaper column about the late BBC Radio 1 and 2 DJ Steve Wright appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post

Jimmy Cricket has revealed he was a big fan of famous radio DJ Steve Wright who died earlier this year.

For decades the voice of the BBC on afternoon radio, Steve passed away aged 69 in February.

He had joined the national broadcaster at the beginning of the 1980s and went on to host popular shows on both BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2.

In a statement, his family referred to the “millions of devoted radio listeners who had the good fortune and great pleasure of allowing Steve into their daily lives as one of the UK’s most enduring and popular radio personalities”.

Jimmy’s latest monthly newspaper column in the Lancashire Evening Post is devoted to the late DJ.

‘An instant fan’

He says: “When I first got a break on the tele in the early eighties, a friend told me that there was this young DJ on the radio doing an impression of me who was called Steve Wright.

“Obviously, this did my ego a power of good, so I made it my business to tune in to this new ‘jock’.

“I became an instant fan! Steve just had that special something that drew you closer to the radio when he was in full flight.

“He made even reading out the weather report sound interesting.

“Twenty-five years later, I was sitting in the BBC London studios being interviewed by him for his big show that was aired on weekday afternoons.

“I was accompanied by Cannon and Ball. We were there to promote a show we were touring with called The Best of British Variety.

Rory Bremner

“It was great fun as we all bounced ad libs between us, ending with Steve reeling out the theatres around the country where we were strutting our stuff.”

Adds Jimmy: “My other link to Steve’s show came via the impressionist Rory Bremner.

“Rory and I did a TV series for Central television in the mid-eighties and we both got this booking to entertain on a cruise around the Greek Islands. (I know it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!).

“The problem was I turned up at Athens airport without my passport.

“I can still see it now – half a dozen security men gathered round looking at a publicity photo of a guy in a funny hat and wellingtons at 3 o’clock in the morning, all babbling in Greek, half of them giggling and the other half scratching their heads.

“When Rory went on Steve’s show, he relayed the story as only he could, complete with impressions of the Greek officials.

‘Moving and emotional’

“Steve laughed so much he asked Rory to repeat it the next time he came on his show.”

The column continues: “Of course, no article about Steve Wright would be complete without mention of his other BBC Radio 2 show – Sunday Love Songs.

“Here, he gave shoutouts to couples getting engaged and married (as well as people’s anniversaries), while playing some of the most iconic and romantic songs ever written.

“Some lucky couples even got champagne and chocolate.

“This was one of the most moving and emotional programmes on national radio. It drew huge numbers of listeners every Sunday morning.”

Jimmy concludes: “You know, there’s an intimacy about listening on the radio to your favourite presenter.

“Without the visual distraction of television, you feel he’s just talking to you alone.

“Perhaps that’s what made Steve so special.

“Even though he was talking to the nation, you got the feeling he was just talking to you.”

Vince Hill was ‘one of the nation’s finest vocalists’ 150 150 mhamer

Vince Hill was ‘one of the nation’s finest vocalists’

Jimmy Cricket used a recent newspaper column to pay tribute to the late, great Vince Hill

A light went out in the entertainment industry when Vince Hill passed away earlier this year, says Jimmy Cricket.

Entertainer Jimmy pays tribute in a recent newspaper column to singer/songwriter Vince, best known for his cover of the hit Edelweiss.

His version reached number two in the UK pop charts in 1967. It stayed in the charts for 17 weeks.

The song was originally from the 1965 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music.

In a recent Blackpool Gazette column (which also appears in the Lancashire Evening Post newspaper), Jimmy recalls Vince’s amazing life and career.

He describes him as “one of the nation’s finest vocalists”.

“Most readers will remember Vince for his big hits during the 60s like Edelweiss from the musical, The Sound of Music, and Roses of Picardy – a ballad about a wartime romance.”

Jimmy recalls doing several UK tours with Vince, including of Scotland.

“Vince enthralled the Scottish audiences, especially when he did this amazing arrangement of Sir Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s most popular tunes.”

He concludes: “When he left us, we lost one of our greatest ever singers and a light went out in the UK entertainment industry.”

Successful TV shows

Vince first sang in public as a teenager and joined vocal group The Raindrops, but went solo in the early sixties.

He rose to fame with his debut single The River’s Run Dry and went on to produce a number of hits.

His other songs included Take Me To Your Heart Again and Love Letters In The Sand.

While known mainly for his singing, he was also a songwriter.

Additionally, he hosted several successful TV shows during the seventies and eighties, including the BBC’s The Musical Time Machine.

Before finding fame as a singer, he worked as baker, truck driver and coal miner.

Vince died peacefully at his home in Oxfordshire on 22 July.

Read: The life of British singer Vince Hill

From this website: Vince Hill: Cherished memories of touring Scotland with him

Autobiography – Buy Jimmy Cricket’s autobiography now

 

An Englishman, Irishman and Italian climb into a car… 150 150 mhamer

An Englishman, Irishman and Italian climb into a car…

Jimmy Cricket has been a newspaper columnist for almost a decade - but he appeared in a fellow funnyman's column about a car share earlier this week!

Jimmy Cricket has been a newspaper columnist for almost a decade – but he featured in a fellow funnyman’s column earlier this week!

The Northern Irish entertainer appeared in Steve Royle’s latest Blackpool Gazette column.

It centred on how they and another comedian, Tony Vino, did a car share to a gig in Essex.

Steve is an actor, writer, comedian, juggler and presenter.

He was a finalist on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent in 2020.

Tony has been a professional comedian for more than 10 years, touring both nationally and internationally.

Steve’s column begins: “An Englishman, Irishman and an Italian climb into a car.

Autobiography

“Sounds like the start to a bad joke but in actual fact it was the beginning of a marvellous journey.

“Having the company of two great comics on such an epic journey was more entertaining than the gig itself, with plenty of amazing anecdotes, especially from my fellow Lancashire Evening Post columnist, Jimmy.

“He has an autobiography out at the moment and even though I bought a copy, I think he told us virtually every story in it during the 14-hour round trip.”

Jimmy’s autobiography, Memoirs Of An Irish Comedian, costs £11.99 as a paperback.

It tells the heart-warming story of his 50 golden years in showbusiness – told in his own words.

Recognisable for wearing a funny hat and green wellies marked L and R on the wrong feet, Jimmy has been making people laugh for half a century.

And he proudly keeps his comedy clean – increasingly rare these days –  making him the perfect family entertainer.

Poorest communities

The book is available from online retailer Amazon here.

One pound from the sale of every book goes to Mary’s Meals.

The charity supports feeding projects in some of the world’s poorest communities where hunger and poverty prevent children from gaining an education.

Also read: Mary’s Meals: 20 years serving global communities

From bingo caller to 50 Golden Years in showbiz!

 

 

Frank Carson: Memories of a cracking comedian 150 150 mhamer

Frank Carson: Memories of a cracking comedian

Jimmy Cricket's tribute to the late Frank Carson

The late, great Frank Carson is the subject of Jimmy Cricket’s latest newspaper column.

Like fellow comedian and great friend Jimmy, Frank was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, died aged 85 in 2012.

Comedian Frank Carson

He had battled ill health for some time.

Frank was a regular face on television for many years from the 1970s onwards.

Having risen to prominence in the 60s after winning Opportunity Knocks, he appeared in popular TV series such as The Comedians and Tiswas.

One of his trademark lines was “It’s the way I tell them!”.

Another one was “It’s a Cracker!”.

Jimmy’s column relives Frank’s famous career and their great friendship.

He posted a grab of the newspaper piece on social media.

And he told his friends and followers: “Hi Folks! My tribute via @leponline and @The_Gazette to a much-loved comedian and friend whom we all sadly miss! #keepvarietyalive.”

Also read: Memorial concert to Frank Carson

 

Little and Large: It was a joy to work with them both 150 150 mhamer

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

Hi folks my tribute to Eddie Large and Syd Little efore the unveiling of Eddie's Portrait this weekend in Blackpool, it was always a joy to work with them both! #keepvarietyalive

Jimmy Cricket says Little and Large were one of the best-loved comedy acts to ever play in the famous seaside resort of Blackpool.

Syd Little was the straight man of then two great entertainers, while Eddie Large was generally the funny guy.

They had a TV series and appeared in theatres and pantomimes for many years before their partnership ended when Eddie had serious health problems.

Eddie, who was born Edward Hugh McGinnis, died aged 78 in April 2020.

He had been suffering with heart failure and contracted coronavirus in hospital.

Fellow comedian Jimmy devoted his latest newspaper column to the famous comic duo.
It was published ahead of an unveiling of a portrait of Eddie this weekend at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.
Jimmy said: “It was always a joy to work with them both.”
Here is his column in full:

Little and large were appearing in summer season at the Princess Theatre in Torquay when I went backstage to visit them with a sketch I’d written.

It was the early 80s and I was breaking into television.

They had a prime-time show on Saturday evenings at that time, that used guest artistes and as I’d done a few one-night­ers with them, I thought I’d pitch an idea to them.

I knew from experience that you had a much better chance of getting your material accepted if you let the stars of the show get as many laughs as you did.

So I hit on this idea to do a sketch based on me teaching Eddie to be an Irish comedian.

Eddie was a brilliant mimic and I figured if we could do a couple of routines, we could split the jokes between us.

I also figured if the wardrobe lady could tog him out in the same garb as my comedy character It would be even better.

Here’s the jist of the sketch:

Jimmy: Ladies and gentlemen, come ‘ere, I’ve been for a haircut.

He said: Do you want your hair cut round the back; I said, is there no room in the shop?

Eddie: And there’s more…

He said: You know it needs cutting badly; I said: I don’t want it cutting badly, I want it cut properly.

And so on…. the sketch finished with Eddie’s long-suffering on-stage partner Syd,
(they were the best of friends off stage), coming on to try and keep order but of course we both give him his come comeuppance and do a little jig off set.

When I knocked on the boys’ dressing room at the Princess Theatre in Torquay that evening, Eddie was there on his own and he warmly welcomed me in.

When I handed him the script, he sat down and perused it attentively, (comedy’s a serious business folks), but gradually a smile appeared as he visualised the comic potential of it and a huge feeling of relief came over me.

Happy summer season

He said he would show it to Syd and the two of them would show it to their producer Bill Wilson.

I left the theatre that evening in a confident mood.

You’ll be happy to know, readers, the sketch did make it on to the show.

From the moment we came to the set, in identical hat, wellies and tailcoat the studio audience lapped it up and I’m sure that was replicated with the viewers at home.

Many years later, I did a very happy summer season at the Britannia Theatre in Great Yarmouth with them.

Syd and Eddie never had a hang-up about other comedians on the bill getting laughs.

Another 15 years

To them it was the success of the overall show that mattered and the louder people laughed the more likely they would be to spread the word around the resort.

Not long after that season, Eddie’s heart condition deteriorated, but miraculously he was given a heart transplant at the Papworth Hospital in Cambridge which gave him another 15 years.

I made him laugh once when I sent him an email and jokingly suggested that the reason his new heart was in such good nick was that it came from a theatrical agent and had hardly been used!

It was while Eddie was having treatment for his heart at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, that he succumbed to the coronavirus and sadly died on the 2nd of April 2020.

A light went out in the UK entertainment industry.

All the happy memories of working with Eddie and Syd have been rekindled these last few weeks, because Eddie’s wife Patsy, and son Ryan, have passed on to me the happy news that a portrait of Eddie is to be unveiled at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.

Given the fact that Little and Large broke all box office records during their summer seasons in Blackpool, this is a fitting and lasting tribute from our premier seaside resort to one half of one of the best-loved comedy acts to ever play there.

LEP column paid tribute to the ‘wonderful’ Vera Lynn 150 150 mhamer

LEP column paid tribute 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.'”