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The day I saved a Christmas TV show by playing an unexpected role 150 150 mhamer

The day I saved a Christmas TV show by playing an unexpected role

Jimmy Cricket tells in his latest newspaper column how he once saved the day on a Christmas TV show - by stepping in as the Fairy Godmother at short notice.

Jimmy Cricket once saved the day on a Christmas TV show – by stepping in as the Fairy Godmother at short notice!

In his last newspaper column of 2023, the famous funnyman recalls how he ended up “complete in fairy frock, full make-up, blonde wig, not to mention my wellies”.

Here is the full article, which appeared in both the Blackpool Gazette and the Lancashire Evening Post newspapers:

The London Weekend Television studio was filled with Christmas decorations capturing the yuletide spirit. All around were fairy lights, tinsel and holly…

Cornucopia of celebrities

However, this show was different – it was being made in the middle of August and it was sizzling outside.

It was the early 80s and I was a guest on the Krankies Christmas show. I did a stand-up spot as a postman and, naturally, I had my own letter from my mammy.

It had lines like “I’m not sending out any Christmas cards this year, son, because of the price of postage… and I’ve sent letters to all my friends telling them that”.

Also on the TV show was a mini-pantomime with a cornucopia of celebrities playing different roles. One of them was Bernie Winters.

Big sad eyes

Older readers will remember that Bernie and his brother Mike were a well-known comedy double act that were very popular on television in the 60s and 70s.

They were called, naturally enough, Mike and Bernie Winters. When the double act disbanded, Bernie got himself another partner – Snorbitz the dog.

Snorbitz was a large St Bernard dog with a lugubrious face and big sad eyes who endeared himself to the audience every time he came on stage with Bernie.

Indeed, I remember being in the line-up after a Royal Variety show once, standing beside Bernie and when Princess Diane came along the queue to shake hands with us; she was disappointed not to see Snorbitz by Bernie’s side.

Back to the Krankies Christmas show.

Hard to believe

Another well-known TV personality was playing the Fairy Godmother in that mini-pantomime, namely impressionist and singer Faith Brown.

Unfortunately, Faith collapsed just a couple of hours before the programme was recorded and was told by a medical examiner that she had to rest and take no more part in the show.

Looking back now, what happened next readers is something I find hard to believe even as I write it, but it’s absolutely true…

Come closer… Ian (Krankie) and Bernie both took me to the side and almost in unison asked me would I step up and play the part of the Fairy Godmother.

Of course, it was a preposterous suggestion and my immediate inclination was to politely decline.

But then I thought about all the actors rehearsing all their lines in the week, leading up to show and how depleted they’d feel.

Whisked into make-up

So, I threw caution to the wind and, in my best “The show must go on” voice, I agreed.

Time was now of the essence.

Jimmy Cricket as the Fairy Godmother in the Krankies Christmas special.

I was whisked into make-up, then wardrobe and that night I stepped out in front of the studio audience waving my wand, complete in fairy frock, full make-up, blonde wig, not to mention my wellies.

I looked like a cross between Harpo Marx and Dolly Parton… but surely you wouldn’t have had time to rehearse your lines, I hear you silently say to yourself.

Well, that hurdle was surmounted by the production team holding cue cards with the words of the couplets written on them.

I rattled them off as if I was looking straight to camera.

Well, we got through and the fairy saved the day.

I got a healthy response from the audience and as I glanced across at Snorbitz I could have sworn he clapped his paws together!

Oh, and like all good pantomimes it has a happy ending because Faith Brown recovered and went on to play (superbly) the lead role of Norma Desmond in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s touring version of Sunset Boulevard.

Happy Christmas readers.

Don’t forget that Jimmy’s official autobiography is on sale!

Memoirs Of An Irish Comedian tells the heart-warming story of Jimmy’s illustrious life and 50-year career.

The paperback costs £11.99 and can be bought at online retailer Amazon here. It is also available via eBook and audio.

Signed copies (£15.99 including postage and packing) can be purchased on this website 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.


The Crickets at Christmas – courtesy of Jimmy and May 150 150 mhamer

The Crickets at Christmas – courtesy of Jimmy and May

Here is an idea for a Christmas Show, with applied social distancing in Theatres and venues! Just ring us on 01706 353545 for a booking!

Jimmy Cricket and his wife May have come up with a special Christmas show format in place of the usual panto.

The United Kingdom continues to remain under coronavirus restrictions.

It means it is highly unlikely theatres will be able to stage traditional pantomimes over the Christmas and New Year period.

So Jimmy and May – who goes under the stage name of May Marion – are offering venues, The Crickets at Christmas.

The photo above is of a poster on the homepage of Jimmy’s webpage.

Jimmy explained: “Panto just like Santa, Christmas trees and turkey is a mainstay of our festive season.

“A wonderful opportunity for the whole family to visit the theatre.


“It’s also a two-way process when theatres can put the house-full signs up and take in a bit of cash to help them get through the rest of the year.

“It’s going to be sad this year to pass some of our local theatres and not hear that laughter and applause.

“To help any theatres that don’t want to remain dark and keep a link open to their regular patrons, my wife and I have devised a two-hander Christmas show.

“It will follow government guidelines with social distancing etc, so everyone can feel safe.

“It can be a 90-minute straight through show or an hour each half with an interval.

“Because of limited capacity, we’re happy to do two shows.

“It’s something to keep us going until please God we can all get back to normal.

“Stay safe and healthy everyone!

“Just ring us on 01706 353545 for a booking!”

Also read: What it might be tough to stage pantos this year…

Catching up with old friends in Clacton-on-Sea show 150 150 mhamer

Catching up with old friends in Clacton-on-Sea show

Jimmy Cricket teamed up again with some old pals at an Essex seaside resort this weekend.

The Northern Irish comedian performed at the West Cliff Theatre in Clacton-on-Sea, on Saturday (6 July).

Among those he was seeing again included his former Pantomime co-star, Danny Lee Grew – both were in Dick Whittington at the Gracie Fields Theatre in Rochdale during the 2017-18 pantomime season.

Famous entertainer Jimmy, 73, had known Danny’s mum through performing several times over the years at the West Cliff Theatre.

He posted on social media: “Had a great evening @wctclacton with magician @dannygrew and the Debbie Millar School of Dance while catching up with old friends, my thanks goes to stage manager Dee, Keith on lights, Dave on sound, Vicky on spotlight, Josh, alongside all the great volunteers and @normanjac ????.”


Reunion with panto co-star in Clacton-on-Sea 150 150 mhamer

Reunion with panto co-star in Clacton-on-Sea

This July, I will be reunited with legend @jimmy__cricket since we performed in pantomime together a couple of years ago @wctclacton

Jimmy Cricket will be teaming up again this summer with one of his former Pantomime co-stars.

The famous Northern Irish entertainer performed alongside Danny Lee Grew in Dick Whittington at the Gracie Fields Theatre in Rochdale during the 2017-18 pantomime season.

The panto also featured The Chase’s Mark Labbett (also known as The Beast).

Tickets for the show in July can be found here.



‘Many happy memories’ of the late Barry Chuckle 150 150 mhamer

‘Many happy memories’ of the late Barry Chuckle

Jimmy remembers the late Barry Chuckle in his October column in the Lancashire Post

Jimmy Cricket has paid tribute to the late Barry Chuckle in his latest newspaper column.

Barry, one half of the comedy duo, the Chuckle Brothers, whose main catch phrase was  “To me, to you”, died in August this year aged 73 following a short period of ill health.

The popular and likeable entertainer, whose real name was Barry Elliott, most famously starred in ChuckleVision with his brother Paul on the BBC between 1987 and 2009.

In his October column in the Lancashire Post, comedian Jimmy recalls when he performed alongside Barry and Paul in panto.

He writes: “The untimely death of Barry Chuckle in August has prompted a cherished memory of working in pantomime with him and his brother Paul 28 years ago. It was 1990, the Darlington Civic.

“The subject was Cinderella and the boys played Brokers’ Men while I played Buttons. Now wait for this readers, it was a 10-week season. These days most pantos don’t last half that long.

“I got particularly close to Barry because we both stayed in a hotel near the theatre, whereas Paul and his wife rented a cottage a few miles away. As well as loving comedy, something else bonded Barry and I together – food. Let me explain, folks.

“When you’re away from home working in a long run, one of the top priorities is getting a decent meal. Oh yes, you can get a good hearty breakfast in your hotel in the morning, but as the day progresses the hunger pangs start kicking in around tea time, especially in panto, where you have lots of matinees as well as evening performances.

“Barry found the answer to our problems when he discovered Crombie’s. Crombie’s served delightful home cooked grub and, in a sea of fast food establishments, it was an oasis. There we would hold court discussing the joys and perils of showbusiness and generally putting the world to right.

“Yes Barry, you and your brother have given us all so much fun over the years, and you personally have given me so many special happy memories of the meal and laughs we shared together.”

Read the full article at


A pleasant surprise ahead of Christmas pantomime 150 150 mhamer

A pleasant surprise ahead of Christmas pantomime


Jimmy Cricket's December column in the Preston-based Lancashire Post

Jimmy Cricket has revealed his joyful amazement when he discovered the identity of one of his fellow pantomime performers.

The well-known Northern Irish entertainer is currently playing Professor Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington, which is running at the Gracie Fields Theatre until New Year’s Eve in Rochdale where he lives.

The panto also features The Chase’s Mark Labbett (also known as The Beast), who plays King Rat.

Jimmy, 72, says in his December column in the Preston-based Lancashire Post that over the years he has played a lot of shows at a small theatre called the West Cliff in Clacton-on-Sea in Essex.

“Every now and then, when I would come round to the front of house after the show to say goodnight, there would be a lady called Chrissie Grew with her two sons,” he recalls.

“As the years went by, Chrissie would keep in touch telling me about one of her boys – Danny – who developed a ‘magic act’.

“She would tell me about him taking his first tentative steps into the world of show business. Then her emails would get more exciting as more and more bookings would come in.

“Fast forward to a few months ago and I sign up to play panto in my adopted town of Rochdale this Christmas.

“I arrive to do the publicity launch and guess who’s playing Dick Whittington? You’re absolutely right! Danny! Yes, all those times his mum, Chrissie, took him to see stage shows planted seeds of a flower that has now blossomed.”

Dick Whittington panto details

Roy Hudd about Jimmy Cricket: He’s got the lot 150 150 mhamer

Roy Hudd about Jimmy Cricket: He’s got the lot

Jimmy Cricket featured in Roy Hudd's column in Yours magazineJimmy Cricket has come in for high praise from fellow comedian Roy Hudd OBE.

In one of his recent columns in Yours, a fortnightly magazine for women over the age of 50, Roy says Belfast was “the home of someone who makes me laugh”.

The 79-year-old adds: “If you think he’s just a loveable, welly-wearing, ‘dacent Irish boy’, be amazed.

“He does the lot. He sings and writes songs, juggles, does impressions, dances (inspired by Billy Dainty) and is always on the ball with topical stuff.”

Roy also describes Jimmy as “the perfect pantomime performer”.

As well as being a comedian, Roy is also an actor – he appeared as undertaker Archie Shuttleworth in Coronation Street – a radio host, author and authority on the history of music hall entertainment.