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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

Liz Dawn: Corrie star had ‘courage and a big heart’ 150 150 mhamer

Liz Dawn: Corrie star had ‘courage and a big heart’

Jimmy Cricket paid tribute in his Lancashire Evening Post column to Liz Dawn, who played Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street

Jimmy Cricket has paid a warm tribute to the late Liz Dawn in his  monthly newspaper column.

In the Lancashire Evening Post, Jimmy said Liz, who played Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street for more than 30 years, was “a great actress with a big heart who had the common touch”.

The soap legend died aged 77 in September following a long battle with emphysema, a disease of the lungs that primarily causes shortness of breath.

“It was when she landed the role of a factory worker in Coronation Street that Liz came to everyone’s attention,” recalled famous Northern Irish comedian Jimmy, 72.

“Her natural acting ability won the hearts of viewers and her on-screen relationship with Bill Tarmey as the bickering husband and wife Jack and Vera Duckworth captivated the nation.

“She raised incredible amounts of money for such worthy causes as the Manchester Children’s Hospital, the Genesis Appeal, and the Liz Dawn Cancer Appeal, and was awarded the MBE in the 2000 Queen’s Birthday Honours for her extraordinary fund-raising achievements.”

Jimmy said he first met Leeds-born Liz while working on the QE2, adding she was a  “huge hit”, with large audiences attending her ‘An Audience With Show’ where she talked about her life.

“At the height of her success on Corrie, she did a ‘Christmas Special’ from her home, and I played a postman who delivered her Christmas cards,” reminisced Jimmy.

Liz Dawn (who played Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street) talks to Frankie's friend Liz Creagh after the service. Liz was at both the ordination and the First Mass and Frankie was really thrilled she came to both events

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“However, it was my son who formed a strong friendship with Liz and her husband, Don.

“When our Frank was training for the priesthood, he politely enquired if Liz could put in an appearance at a fund-raising concert which would help to send some young people to Lourdes.

“Without hesitation, Liz not only turned up to that event but became a regular guest artiste at these shows.

“Our Frank, who was a stand-up comedian before he took up his vocation, would introduce Liz and together they would do a hilarious question-and answer-session.

“They both struck up such a rapport that when when Frank was ordained a priest [in 2013], Liz not only turned up at his ordination in Salford Cathedral but at his very first Mass in St Vincent’s Catholic Church in Rochdale [picture above].

“It took great courage and bravery, for by that time emphysema had taken its toll, but there she was… still laughing and joking with her fans after the service and always with her beloved Don pushing her wheelchair.”

Jimmy added: “I was so proud to be at her Requiem Mass at Salford Cathedral where Father Frankie was a concelebrant.

“Liz, you went from rags to riches and gave so much enjoyment and happiness along the way.”

LEP column: Here’s to the king of comedy writers 150 150 mhamer

LEP column: Here’s to the king of comedy writers

Jimmy Cricket's Lancashire Evening Post columnJimmy Cricket remembers legendary comedy writer and close friend, the late Eddie Braben, in one of his recent newspaper columns.

Edwin ‘Eddie’ Charles Braben was best known for providing material for Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise. He also worked for David FrostRonnie Corbett and Ken Dodd.

He was credited with changing the profile of Morecambe and Wise, helping to turn them into one of the most popular and enduring comedy acts in the history of British entertainment.

Belfast-born entertainer Jimmy, who has lived in Rochdale for many years, recalls in the Lancashire Post how Eddie started out as a market trader, selling fruit and veg from a stall in Liverpool’s St John precinct. In his spare time, he made up jokes.

Jimmy says how nervous he was when he first met Eddie, adding: “That was the start of a beautiful friendship that spanned two TV series, five radio series and even a book of letters from my Mammy.”

Northern Irish comedian Jimmy developed a lasting friendship with Eddie who sadly died aged 82 in May 2013. Below is a newspaper article in which Jimmy paid tribute to his old pal at the time.

Jimmy Cricket pays tribute to Eddie Braben in the Rochdale Observer

East Riding Film Festival: Jimmy Cricket to talk about The Quiet Man 150 150 mhamer

East Riding Film Festival: Jimmy Cricket to talk about The Quiet Man

Jimmy Cricket will be appearing in a film festival at Bridlington SpaJimmy Cricket will be talking about his favourite film to a live audience at a festival on the East Yorkshire coast later this year.

The famous entertainer will be taking part in the East Riding Film Festival, which arranges for celebrities, film-makers and those with a deep knowledge of their subject to introduce films of their choosing.

Jimmy, 71, will be talking about The Quiet Man at the Bridlington Spa theatre on Sunday 12 November.

It will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

John Ford’s 1952 classic film starred legendary actors John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, who was an Irish-born American actress and singer. A comedy drama, it won an Oscar for the best cinematography that year. All the support actors were from the famous Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

You can buy a ticket to hear Jimmy talking about the film in November here.

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.

Julius Caesar, UK prime ministers and Omnibus 150 150 mhamer

Julius Caesar, UK prime ministers and Omnibus

Jimmy Cricket's column in the Lancashire Evening Post

Jimmy Cricket talked about Julius Caesar, British prime ministers and an award-winning play written by one of his daughters in a recent newspaper column.

Writing in the Preston-based Lancashire Evening Post (LEP), the famous entertainer, 71, mentions Omnibus, which was staged for the first time in Liverpool in June.

Omnibus, written by comedian Katie Mulgrew, was the winner two years ago of the first ever Liverpool Hope University play-writing prize. It is about a group of friends following a soap opera.

And she was given the opportunity to see her debut play on stage when it was performed at the Unity Theatre Liverpool in association with the Royal Court (which was closed for development work) to rave reviews!

Will the real Jimmy Cricket please do stand-up?! 150 150 mhamer

Will the real Jimmy Cricket please do stand-up?!

Jimmy Cricket's latest column in the Lancashire Evening PostJimmy Cricket has been telling the true story of what happened at BJ’s Bingo Club in the Kitts Green district of Birmingham recently.

The famous entertainer had arrived at the club ahead of his performance there when a woman approached him and said: “You’re not the real Jimmy Cricket?”.

Jimmy, 71, relates the tale in his latest column in the Preston-based Lancashire Evening Post newspaper.

And he also talks about a mysterious ‘Mr X’.

Click on the image above to read an expanded view of the full article.