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.”
Entertainer Jimmy Cricket will be appearing in a huge charity gala at the Viva cabaret venue in Blackpool on May 15.
The line-up for A Night to Remember is a stunning collection of high-quality performers, who have been assembled by the organisers of this fundraising event, Jean Parkes and Sue Coolie.
Jean is a former manager of the Bradford Theatres organisation and now runs an agency in Blackpool called Personality Artistes.
The proceeds from the event will go towards charities, which are associated with two worthy causes – Parkinson’s disease and leukaemia.
Book your tickets now with the Viva box office on 01253 297297.
Jimmy Cricket joined a host of fellow top entertainers at a showbusiness event in Blackpool.
Encore Reunion was organised by performer Hilary O’Neil, who was one of the stars of the 80s TV show Copy Cats, and was hosted at the Viva cabaret venue in Blackpool.
Jimmy, who attended with his wife, May and son, Fr Frankie, was invited to attend by the event sponsor, Nick Thomas from the Qdos Entertainment Company.
It was a who’s who from the world of entertainment as also there were: Bobby Davro, Paul Chuckle (from the Chuckle Brothers), Ken Dodd, Billy Pearce, Krankies, Christopher Biggins, Russ Abbot, Robin Grumbleweed and Little and Large.
“I was thrilled to have been at this unique event and thought it was a sensational night,” said Jimmy.
“I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with my fellow entertainers, some of whom I had not seen in quite some time.
“It was also superb the event was held in Blackpool – the resort famed for its entertainment offer – as all those who went to the Encore Reunion had at one time or another graced the venues of the town.”
The sponsors produced an event brochure, which highlighted the many shows the performers had produced over the years in the resort.
Jimmy featured in a few of these shows at venues such as the South Pier Theatre (no longer standing as it was demolished at the end of the 90s) and the Grand Theatre (located within the town centre).
Click on either of the arrow buttons above to watch a photo slideshow of the event.
Photos and postings published on social media websites have revealed some of the events that made Jimmy Cricket a household name.
The Northern Irish entertainer’s supporters and friends have created a kind of nostalgia corner with their entries on Facebook and Twitter.
Right is a picture of the front cover of the Look in annual dating back to 1988. Look in was a popular weekly magazine aimed at the teenage markets during the 1980s.
Jimmy features primarily because he had a popular television series on ITV at the time and the magazine decided to run a comic strip which featured Jimmy’s character getting into different scrapes!
A big thanks to Amy Elizabeth Phillips for posting this on her website at www.varietyemporium.co.uk where it features on its dedicated Facebook page.
Back in 1987, Jimmy headlined a show at the Grand Theatre in Blackpool which was a trailblazer at the time as it started a trend of extending theatre-based entertainment attractions into the autumnal illuminations season (poster left, is also from the Variety Emporium website).
Supporting Jimmy on the show was none other than Brian Conley, the English comedian, television presenter, singer and actor who at the peak of his television career was believed to be the highest-paid male television personality in the UK.
Alongside both Jimmy and Brian was a double act called Trevillion & Nine – the female half of which was Sadie Nice who is now a successful broadcaster on BBC Essex.
The other member of the double act, Paul Trevillion, went on to use his artistic talents to the full, producing cartoons for a range of sporting occasions and sporting publications.
Jimmy Cricket is among the entertainers appearing in a charity gala in support of Donna’s Dream House at the Grand Theatre in Blackpool.
Carnival of Dreams will also feature Gareth Gates, Denise Nolan, Irish international singing star Rose-Marie, JK as Robbie Williams, International comedy entertainer Kenny Cantor, Aimi MacDonald, Sue Devaney (BBC’s Dinnerladies), International female impersonator Ceri Dupree, Scott Wright (Coronation Street) and the cast of Blackpool’s rock and roller coaster musical Booze Birds & Blackpool Rock, Top UK & World Elvis impersonator Martin Fox, Jamie Pugh from Britain’s Got Talent, Comical singing ventriloquist Kieran Powell, Shani Cantor, Leo Jones Star of TV’s Airline, Scottish Champions Craig Paton on the accordion and Andy Kain on the fiddle, Fylde Scottish Country Dancers, Barry Haywood, Iain Matley, and Blackpool’s very own Funny Girls, Langley Dance Centre, Mary Whelan School of Irish Dancing, Blackpool Circus School and Greater Manchester Pipe Band.
It takes place on Sunday, August 7 – full details in Jimmy’s events calendar and view the full gala poster here.