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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.

‘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 https://www.lep.co.uk/news/column-jimmy-cricket-tribute-to-barry-chuckle-1-9392112

 

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!”

Jimmy’s LEP column: My tribute to a great agent

Jimmy Cricket's June column in the Lancashire Evening Post

Jimmy Cricket has been paying tribute to “one of the all-time great theatrical agents” in his latest column in the Lancashire Evening Post.

The 72-year-old comedian recalls the career of Phyllis Rounce, who also managed the likes of Rod Hull and Emu, and Tony Hancock.

Rod Hull was a comedian, best known as a popular entertainer on British television in the 1970s and 1980s. He rarely appeared without Emu, a mute, highly aggressive arm-length puppet modelled on the Australian flightless emu bird.

Hancock was a high-profile comedian and actor during the 1950s and early 1960s, enjoying major success with his BBC series Hancock’s Half Hour, first broadcast on radio and then on television.

Jimmy said Phyllis – who was known as Phil to her friends – was an “exceptional manager who went the extra mile for her artistes”.

He added that she “had a love affair with showbusiness that started during the Second World War.

“She realised the part entertainment could play in boosting soldiers’ morale and keeping their spirits up on the way to the front.

“How lucky was I to be guided by a lady with such a caring nature and such creative vision.”

On social media channel Twitter, Jimmy said the June column in the Preston-based LEP was his “dedication and tribute to one of the all-time great theatrical agents in the world of showbusiness”.

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:

What is Syd of Little and Large fame doing now?

Jimmy Cricket's April column in the Lancashire Post

Jimmy Cricket devoted his latest monthly column in the Lancashire Evening Post to a man who was one half of a famous comedy double act.

Well-known Northern Irish entertainer Jimmy talks in the 30 April edition of the Preston-based newspaper about Syd Little who formed a great show business partnership with Eddie Large.

Syd was the straight man in the Little and Large act, while Eddie Large was generally the funny guy. They had a TV series and appeared in theatres and pantomimes for many years before they split when Eddie had serious health problems.

Syd now performs on cruise ships, most notably on the QE2 (which was retired from active Cunard service on 27 November 2008), and also runs a restaurant in his hometown of Fleetwood in Lancashire called The Steamer with his wife Sheree.

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.

The Chase’s ‘Beast’ Mark Labbett is a gentle giant

Jimmy Cricket's February column in the Lancashire Evening Post was about Mark 'The Beast' Labbett from ITV's The Chase

Jimmy Cricket’s latest column in the Lancashire Evening Post was about Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett from TV’s The Chase.

Famous Northern Irish entertainer Jimmy performed with Mark in pantomime in Ellesmere Port and Rochdale during the last festive season.

Mark  is a ‘Chaser’ on the ITV teatime game show The Chase, which is hosted by Bradley Walsh.

He began the role in 2009 and he has since appeared on the American version as their sole Chaser in 2013 as well as being one of six Chasers in the Australian series. He has also appeared in several other television quiz shows and is a regular in quizzing competitions.

His TV nickname ‘The Beast’ is a reference to both his stature (he’s 6ft 6in tall) and his surname – Labbett sounds like the French ‘la bête’, meaning ‘the beast’.

In his February LEP column, Jimmy told how during the time the panto was in Rochdale, Mark hosted a weekly quiz in The Flying Horse Hotel in the town and then in Ellesmere Port, ended up calling out a few games of bingo at a nearby Mecca hall!

On both occasions, Mark declined a fee and instead arranged for himself and the cast to have a meal courtesy of the two venues.

Added Jimmy: “All thanks to big Mark, our gentle giant with the big heart!”.

 

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 Westcliffe 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