Share your showbiz stories for chance to win Blackpool Comedy Greats book

By Barry Band

Saturday, 3rd July 2021, 4:55 am
Barry Band with his book Blackpool Comedy Greats, which being offered as a prize for your showbiz tales
Barry Band with his book Blackpool Comedy Greats, which being offered as a prize for your showbiz tales

Have you a showbiz story to tell? There’s a copy of my book Blackpool’s Comedy Greats to win.

It’s an out-of-print volume on the careers of a dozen stars who lived in and around Blackpool in the mid-20th Century and gave hundreds of performances here.

In a showbiz town like Blackpool many people had unexpected encounters with the famous and have a picture to prove it. People working in hospitality, in retail and in theatres are the most likely to have a personal star story.

Let’s not forget the audiences. We know a lady who slung a pair of knickers at Tom Jones - presumably her spare pair - but it seems that was Not Unusual when the Welsh heart-throb came to the Opera House.

But, ladies, it would be out of order when Sir Tom appears at Lytham Hall, next month!

In 1964 I could have had all the Beatles autographs on one page. I thought it unprofessional to stick an autograph book in front of a star - so I didn’t.

But if you have a big “Would you mind signing my book” story, we’d like to hear it.

Blackpool’s Comedy Greats which is not currently available to purchase, is in A4 format, softback. The biographies of 12 bill-topping comics are backed by complete lists of their Blackpool appearances on the variety stage and in summer shows from the 1930s to the 1980s.

I compiled the book from several years of research and printed them to order until 2014, after which the ancient Mac bit the dust.

Each chapter has the artist’s most familiar photo and a verbal snapshot, as outlined here.

Les Dawson: Les’s emergence from the pack to become the supreme joker on stage and television can be pinpointed to a single Blackpool performance.

Norman Evans: The star whose gossiping stage character was the inspiration behind Les Dawson’s Cissie and Ada sketches.

Al Read: Al’s career was unique among northern comedians. He became a star while running a pies and sausage firm.

Frank Randle: Star of stage, screen and magistrates’ court, tales of Randle’s scandals are still around. And who is to know which are untrue?

Hylda Baker: This tiny, dynamic comedienne had been on the variety stage for 35 years before she hit the big-time in Blackpool summer shows.George Formby: Sixty years after his death we trace the many Blackpool stage links of the Lancashire legend.

Charlie Cairoli: In the world of comedy only one man has to be all things to all people, explained by Blackpool’s clown prince in an interview. Loop to I’ve been asked by the lady of the house to repeat my Dora Bryan story. Ok, dear. The condensed version.

In 1971, dizzy Dora was starring in the season show at the Queen”s Theatre, which was on the site of TK Maxx, on Bank Hey Street.

After the second house show she dozed off in her dressing room and woke up to find she had been locked in the theatre.There were no mobile phones in 1971! The dressing rooms were on the ground floor, behind the stage. After a struggle, Dora managed to release a sash window and climbed out into the dark back alley. A taxi light glimmered at the end of the alley. Dora got in and told the driver: “Imperial Hotel, please.”

On arrival, Dora took our her purse and asked: “How much?” The driver turned round and said: “It’s free tonight, Miss Bryan. This is a police car.”

To be in with a chance of winning the book, submit your showbiz stories to [email protected]