Tag Archives: column

June Whitfield – a ‘great actress and lovely lady’

 

Hi folks I had the great pleasure of working with this great actress and lovely lady the late June Whitfield here is my tribute to her!

Jimmy Cricket has been sharing his memories of his good friend, comedy actress June Whitfield, who died at the end of last year.

The comedian devoted his latest monthly column in the Preston-based Lancashire Evening Post to the late English radio, television and film star.

Jimmy told all his social media followers about his column, saying: “Hi folks I had the great pleasure of working with this great actress and lovely lady the late June Whitfield here is my tribute to her!”

His LEP column read: “The death of June Whitfield at the great age of 93 closes the chapter on one our best ever comedy actresses. In a career that spanned more than six decades, June brought so much joy and laughter that, for many of us, it was not just losing a brilliant performer, but losing a friend.

“You have to go right back to the 1950s to find out when June first got the nation’s chuckle muscles rippling. Radio was king then and June could be heard on a popular show called Take it From Here, penned by Frank Muir and Dennis Norden. She could also be heard on a weekly segment called The Glums, playing Eth, the daft girlfriend to equally dim witted partner Ron, (played by Dick Bentley).

“Her timing and vocal inflections were such that I almost envied the studio audience who were there to witness it in the flesh. She then went on to play straight woman to some of the best comedians of the last century. Tony Hancock, Frankie Howard, Benny Hill, to name but a few.

“So how come when comedians can be a neurotic bunch, (I should know), and always worried about other people getting to many laughs, did June get the gig, so to speak?…”

Read the full column here

 

LEP column: Bruges trip and play goes on the road

Hi everyone! With the New Year comes my January 2019 @leponline column for you to have a little read at!

Jimmy Cricket has been telling Lancashire Evening Post readers about his eventful festive trip to Bruges and giving them an update on his new play, No More Fiffing and Faffing.

The popular Northern Irish comedian’s first LEP newspaper column of 2019 was published on 7 January.

He wrote: “I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year and you didn’t lose any sleep over Brexit.

Speaking of which, I went to one Christmas party and we did the Brexit Hokey Cokey – it was in, out… and we didn’t know what to do after that.

And there’s more. I did hear one story about Christmas morning that a friend told me – his seven-year-old was opening his presents when suddenly he shouts across the living room floor: “Dad, I think Santa Claus has moved house.”

My somewhat surprised pal says: “What makes you think that son?”

“Because,” says the boy, “It says on this toy. Made in China.”

As I didn’t have a panto, I was able to have a more restful festive season.

Christmas in Bruges is delightful. The fairy lights and decorations that surround the market have a unique style, especially when lit up at night. You have to make sure you have your thermals on because it can be a bit nippy. Of course, there’s always a nice restaurant nearby ready to fortify you with a hot chocolate.

In the daytime you can stroll over bridges with flowing rivers for company and drink in the gorgeous Belgian architecture.

Local inhabitants love their bicycles, and you can see folk of all ages cycling along their merry way.

All right, here’s a clue.

The name begins and ends with R. Of course, it was cheap. But that was the only positive thing it had going for it. Although we were lured into going Priority, it didn’t stop the security guys rifling relentlessly through our cabin luggage. Saying a tearful goodbye to your shaving foam at 4.30am in the morning at Manchester Airport isn’t the most pleasant of starts to a holiday.

Although I did get to keep the aftershave lotion, but it was a close shave.

We didn’t really strike it lucky with the hotel, either. Two lights weren’t working in the bedroom. A wheel was missing from the bottom of the bed. The kettle in the room wasn’t working.

Just when you think it can’t get any worse it did. The toilet was blocked.

The next morning, armed with an extensive list of repairs, we headed downstairs.”

Read the full column here.

Find out more about Jimmy’s play, which will be performed at The Met in Bury (23 February), Chorley Theatre (19 May), the Bridlington Spa (18 July) and the Gladstone Theatre on The Wirral.

Las Vegas: Hot weather and an indignant barman

Jimmy Cricket reflects on his holiday in the United States earlier this year in his latest newspaper column - and suggest not asking for a shandy in Las Vegas

Jimmy Cricket reflects on his holiday in the United States earlier this year in his latest newspaper column – and suggests not asking for a shandy in Las Vegas!

The famous comedian went with his wife May in the summer to Vegas, a resort city known for its vibrant nightlife, centered around 24-hour casinos and other forms of entertainment.

And in his November column in the Lancashire Evening Post, he talks about the hot weather and asking for drinks at the bar.

He says: “I suppose if we did get a harsh winter this year we’d be more forgiving because this summer has been such a belter.

“However, although we had another scorcher this year, I went to somewhere that was even hotter. ‘Las Vegas. Yes siree.’ Mrs Cricket and I packed our cosies and sun cream and headed to the gambling capital of the world.

“Boy was that hot. And I just don’t mean the Showgirls. One day I took a 20-minute walk, stopped at a convenience store and purchased a cold bottle of water from the fridge. Before I got back the bottle was so warm, I could hardly hold it. The air conditioning in the hotel was even more welcoming than a tax rebate that day.

“We had a great time in, Las Vegas, and saw lots of exciting shows, including in a show called, Love, which was themed around The Beatles’ music.

“Of course, there were hiccups. Like the Paris Hotel. Here’s a tip here. If you do visit it and go right up to the bar on the first floor, don’t ask for a half of shandy. I did and a quite indignant barman plonked the beer, lemonade and glass in front of me and told me to do it myself.”

Read Jimmy’s full column here

 

Latest LEP column: UK has the best live theatre

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

Jimmy Cricket has been talking about his love of live theatre – and how a new European Union regulation could affect it.

The famous entertainer has been discussing the issue in his latest monthly newspaper column in the Lancashire Evening Post.

“Live theatre takes us on to another level and here in the UK we’ve got the world’s best. After all, this is the home of Shakespeare.

“Classic drama is one of our biggest exports. As for comedy, whether it be a play or stand-up, to be part of the ripples of laughter is something else.”

Jimmy, 72, says the lighting plays a big part in creating the great atmosphere in theatres.

However, he points out that from 2020, a new EU ruling will require everyone to sign up to new lighting efficiency regulations.

“Now that’s all very laudable and I don’t mind in the slightest adhering to it in my own home – indeed, after Brexit it may not apply at all,” says the Rochdale-born comedian.

“However, it if goes ahead here and it’s applied to theatres, our live experience will never be the same again.”

Jimmy later tweeted: “Have a little catch up with my July column  – since this went to print the ruling has been amended!”

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:

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.”

Las Vegas, Siberian tigers and the chipmonk

Jimmy Cricket's May column in the Preston-based Lancashire Evening PostJimmy Cricket has been continuing with his Las Vegas travelogue in a regional newspaper.

The famous comedian, 70, visited the United States city of Vegas, known as the Gamblers’ Paradise, about 15 years ago.

And it was an eventful trip, as he told readers of the Preston-based Lancashire Evening Post in his latest monthly column, having told them previously about the time pop legend Gladys Knight blew him a kiss at a concert in the city.

Jimmy said one of the other shows he saw involved two magicians performing “incredible feats of faring”, which included Siberian tigers appearing out of nowhere.

The religious season of Lent started while practising Roman Catholics Jimmy and Mrs Cricket were in Vegas.

“When we went to Mass on Ash Wednesday, we were told that some people actually put gambling chips in the collection plate,” he explained.

“Apparently after Mass, the priest then  brings them into the hotel next door and has changed them into money. Guess what he’s called? The Chipmonk!”

He added: “Look out for my column next month (June) when there will be more… ”

* Jimmy completes his spring season at the Lyndene Hotel in Blackpool with final performances on Wednesday (25 May) and Saturday (28 May).

The day pop legend Gladys Knight blew me a kiss in Las Vegas

Jimmy Cricket's Lancashire Evening Post column

Jimmy Cricket has been remembering the one and only time he went to Las Vegas – where a music legend blew him a kiss!

In his Lancashire Evening Post column for April, the well-known comedian, 70, recalls his visit about 15 years ago to the United States city of Vegas, famed for its gambling and endless entertainment.

Having entertained passengers on the flight across the Atlantic, Jimmy says he and Mrs Cricket went to see Gladys Knight in concert.

Known as the “Empress of Soul”, she is an American singer–songwriter and actress. She is best known for the hits she recorded during the 1960s and 1970s with her group Gladys Knight & the Pips, which also included her brother and two cousins.

Jimmy says in his column: “At the end of her set, Gladys walked along shaking hands with any members of the audience that went to the front of the stage.

“With a bit of coaxing from Mrs Cricket, I made a bee line towards the great lady. Unfortunately I didn’t quite get the timing right. As I thrust my hand towards the stage Gladys moved on. I missed her hand by a second. As my outstretched hand stood suspended in mid-air in the full glare of the spotlight, I felt the eyes of the whole audience was up on me.

“Then just before she disappeared into the wings, Gladys looked over to notice what had happened and, in a moment that is forever etched in my memory, she blew me a kiss!”

* Jimmy is appearing at the Lyndene Hotel in Blackpool every Wednesday and Saturday until the end of May.

Keith Harris: ‘Great showman – we salute you’

Jimmy Cricket appeared on Keith Harris’s holiday laughter show (with Orville and Cuddles) at the Royal Opera House in the summer of 1982

Jimmy Cricket has been paying tribute in his latest newspaper column to ventriloquist Keith Harris, who died last month.

Keith, who, with his puppet duck Orville, became a regular feature of Saturday night TV in the 1980s, was 67.

He entertained generations of children with his sidekick Orville, a bright green duck who wore a nappy and spoke in a high-pitched voice but couldn’t fly. He also gave life to the popular puppet Cuddles the monkey, whose catchphrase was ‘I hate that duck!’

In addition to fronting The Keith Harris Show on BBC One, he (and Orville) gave private performances at birthday parties for Prince William and his brother Harry, at the request of Diana, Princess of Wales.

His 1982 single, Orville’s Song, was a top five hit, selling more than 400,000 copies.

In his May column for the Preston-based Lancashire Evening News, Jimmy says: “Most ventriloquists that are successful discover one dummy that tickles people’s funny bone, but Keith was blessed with two.

“In 1983, holidaymakers were still visiting our summer resorts en masse and Keith’s show was a sellout from start to finish.

“Keith Harris – you weren’t just a superb ventriloquist, you were a great showman and producer.

“We salute you.”

Johnny Vegas to also feature in film

Johnny Vegas is appearing in the Womble film

Famous actor and comedian Johnny Vegas is to appear in the Womble movie, which is being filmed on location in North Wales and also features entertainer Jimmy Cricket. 

St Helens-born Johnny is well known for his appearances in the hit ITV comedy drama Benidorm and also for popping up in adverts for tea brand PG Tips with a stuffed puppet monkey!

His addition to the cast is another major coup for the people behind Womble the movie, as it also includes top comedian Jimmy, 69, who will play himself as a talent contest judge.

The film is about a man called Aloysius Rupert Womble (played by actor and comedian Tom Spencer), who is in his 30s and living with Asperger’s Syndrome in a typical seaside resort town.

Children and adults affected by Asperger’s Syndrome have difficulty with social interactions and exhibit a restricted range of interests and/or repetitive behaviours.

Aloysius’s dream is to become a stand-up comedian. The film is a week-long snapshot of his life as he goes through the trials of living with a cognitive disorder, while dealing with the injustices forced upon him by society and parts of his community.

Over the seven-day period he prepares for the biggest night of his life – a talent show in his local pub.

The film will feature songs from the Beautiful South’s former lead singer Briana Corrigan and American Pie star Thomas Nicholas, as well as a string of original songs written by songwriters especially for the movie.