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This is your life

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.

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:

Jim Bowen: Jimmy Cricket pays newspaper tribute 150 150 mhamer

Jim Bowen: Jimmy Cricket pays newspaper tribute

Jimmy Cricket paid tribute to Jim Bowen in the Lancashire Evening Post

Jimmy Cricket remembered the late Jim Bowen in his most recent monthly newspaper column in the Lancashire Post.

Broadcaster and comedian Jim, best known for hosting darts-based game show Bullseye in the 1980s and ’90s, died on 14 March at the age of 80.

And Jimmy told some nostalgic anecdotes about his good friend’s life and career in the 26 March edition of the Preston-based paper.

It included the time when presenter Eamonn Andrews arrived on a train to present Jim with the famous Big Red Book on This is Your Life.

Former deputy headmaster Jim, who lived in North Lancashire, began his career as a stand-up comedian on the club circuit in the 1960s. He became a household name when he began presenting Bullseye in 1981. The Sunday tea time show ran for 14 years.

And Jimmy recalled how he threw some darts for charity on Bullseye, while Jim did a sketch with him on his own television show And There’s More.

Click here to watch Jimmy’s appearance on Bullseye.

Watch: Jimmy Cricket on TV’s This Is Your Life 150 150 mhamer

Watch: Jimmy Cricket on TV’s This Is Your Life

It’s more than 30 years since Jimmy Cricket was the given the red book treatment on This Is Your Life.

It was on 29 September 1987 when the famous Northern Irish comedian was surprised by presenter Eamonn Andrews on a central London building site.

In the show, the host popped in 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 programme was originally broadcast live and alternated between on the BBC and  on ITV over the years.

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

And Jimmy’s show was almost jeopardised by a one-in-a-million chance meeting the day before the surprise. Find out why and watch the whole episode below.

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

The Nobodies, stolen wellies & keeping busy 150 150 mhamer

The Nobodies, stolen wellies & keeping busy

Jimmy Cricket article in the Local Journal in RossendaleJimmy Cricket has been telling a magazine about how he met his wife May and why he still hopes his concrete wellies will one day be returned to him.

The famous entertainer is featured in the February edition of the  Local Journal in Rossendale – his house falls just metres inside the Rossendale border.

He moved there a couple of years ago  from his previous home in Rochdale which was less than a mile from where he now lives.

The article (above), written by Graham Ashworth, is headlined ‘Jimmy cricket is still bowling them over!’ and describes him as one of the country’s best-known comedians.

It says he was the last person to be interviewed by Eamonn Andrews on the famous This
is your life programme and that it was at Pontins holiday camp in Morecambe where he met his wife May who was singing with a resident group called ‘The Nobodies’.

And Jimmy, who says he has no plans to hang up his wellies any time soon, has not given up hope that his concrete boots, which were stolen from his garden last summer, may yet turn up again eventually.