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This site provides succour for both body and soul. With our extensive menu of walks, focusing on both natural and industrial history, you can be sure of interest and adventure of the highest order.

With our extensive coverage of the literary scene there is something for everyone. If you wish to look up the price of a book, if you wish to read a review of either drama or literature, all this information is at your fingertips on this site.

And then there's the popular entertainment, mainly with a Lancashire flavour. So watch your chuckle muscles don't get too over excited, but do take a look at some of lancashire's entertainers both past and present.

 

 Lancashire Comedy

  James Robinson Clitheroe (24 December 1921 – 6 June 1973) was a British comic entertainer.[1]

Clitheroe was also where he was born, in Lancashire, England, the son of James Robert Clitheroe and Emma Pye, who married in 1918. Jimmy was named after Emma's brother James Robinson Pye (who was born in Clitheroe in 1894 and killed in World War I),[2] and was brought up in Blacko, near Nelson. He started out in variety and theatre, first at the Nelson Alhambra, but moved into records, films and then pantomime and radio, and finally television. His long-running radio programme on the BBC, The Clitheroe Kid, is still being repeated on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

He never married, and lived with his mother in Blackpool. He never grew any taller than 4 feet 3 inches, and could easily pass for an 11-year-old boy, the character he played in The Clitheroe Kid.[3] He died from an overdose of sleeping pills on the day of her funeral, aged 51. His funeral was held at Carleton Crematorium, Blackpool, where he is commemorated by a plaque attached to memorial tree No.3.

The Buzz Hawkins creation for radio Billy Bradshaw is based on Clitheroe's schoolboy.

Molly Sugden (Mrs Slocombe in the TV series Are You Being Served?) played Clitheroe's mother on stage and in his ITV shows.

The title of the 1970s BBC TV sitcom starring Michael Crawford and Michele Dotrice, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, was based on the catchphrase "Don't some mothers 'ave 'em", used by Clitheroe at the end of his radio shows.

 'Ello Mr Craythorpe'

 

Albert Modley (1901, in Liverpool – February 23, 1979, in Morecambe) Albert had probably the longest career in pantomime of any entertainer, he performed in various panto’s from 1932 to 1960’s. During these years he embarked on many of his own shows ‘on with the Modley’ ‘Modley’s Merrymakers’ He worked for Ernest Binns on the Arcadian Follies in 1932. He worked for Lew and Leslie Grade on the Moss Empire circuit, which included such prestigious dates as the Leeds Empire, Newcastle Empire, Liverpool Empire,Sunderland Empire, Nottingham Empire and many more.

He made 3 films Up for the cup, take me to Paris and Bobs your uncle.

He worked on ‘variety bandbox’ after the war. This popular programme began life In December 1942, as ‘Bandbox Variety’ in the middle of the war, and a pretty grim uncertain period too, the B.B.C. launched a new programme for the forces. It was to be a weekly ‘command performance’ and it was to go out on a Sunday afternoon from the Queensbury club, the west end of London theatre where thousands of forces men and women had a taste of the bright lights and fun. With Cecil Madden in charge, Variety Bandbox took to the air and soon caught the ears of the whole country.

Billy Ternent and his orchestra became the resident band, and the first compere was at one of the weekly auditions Joy Russel Smith held where they heard a young man fresh from the forces with a wild look and a wild crazy style, so they went to work shaping his act Within a short period of time a new comic star had arisen—yes Frankie Howerd and you know the rest of his story! Frankie alternated weekly with another up and coming comedian Derek Roy.

To name a few other resident Bandbox comedians , Hal Monty, Michael Howard, Peter Cavanagh, Arthur English, Max Wall and Reg Dixon with Albert Modley as alternating resident comedians.

Bandbox used to go out on B.B.C. overseas services, to commonwealth and empire countries, it had an audience of 10,000,000 to 14,000,000.

It ran through the war and earned its permanent place, and that became Sunday evening – a quiet revolution had taken place without any one really noticing it!

In the late 1930’s Albert started his Road Shows. November 1937 headlines reads Albert Modley Gets Better and Better His road shows were a combination of his own stand up comedy and sketches with other artists. Song and dance artists which included The John Tiller Girls, (Which later included Leann’s Nana Pat Modley ) Enchanting Soprano Mary Hale, The Bonita sisters and Neaeen performed quick fire acrobatic work, a fine accordionist Harrision Viney, Skill combined with humour were shown by Reading and Grant who showed their work on a spring net. Another artist who gave a meritorious performance Du-Lay who was a magician, Percy Garside who had a magnificent baritone voice. It is only necessary to say that all the acts were always well staged and the dresses were in keeping with the show. Shows like this had the audiences mesmerised feeling that they had only been sat there an hour when in fact it was practically two hours.

Nearing the end of every performance Albert played his various instruments, theses included his Drums, Xylophone , Harmonica and Trumpet.

His sketches included ‘Cutting out the Middle Man’ where he plays a mischievous schoolboy being cheeky to his parents. He is at his very best. His action’s, facial expressions- which changed suddenly from grave to gay- and his playfulness with a toy Aeroplane, are in themselves a nights entertainment. In ‘cutting out the middle man’ he is ordered by his mum to call

the doctor as his father is ill and Albert obeys, during the wait he annoys his dad with bangs and crashes with his toy aeroplane, to cut a long story short there is a knock at the front door and mother answers, there is stood the looming figure of an undertaker!

mother is horrified, she explains that she has not called for him there must be some mistake? but Albert pipes up “ its ok mum i thought we could cut out the middle man”!

In ‘the lost property office’ he is the same mischievous school boy , he approaches

the lost property kiosk at the train station, whilst he is waiting to be seen he touches parcels on the counter and the porter who is dealing with some one else, protests and

tells Albert not to touch them! he keeps being mischievous and butting in! he tells the

porter his mum has lost her umbrella so the porter sympathetically rings the guard,

“what time did she loose it”? on the 3.30 replies Albert, so the guard checks the incoming trains, rings the other stations and after a while ,during which Albert is being a naughty boy touching things and generally being a nuisance, the porter informs him that the last train has come into the station for the day and it wasn’t on any of them! Albert replies” no! it wasn’t on a train it was on’t bus”!

He played several instruments skilfully, Whilst playing the mouth organ he would imitate the movements of a man with a piano-accordion. Albert added to the gaiety of thousands, and doing it without the necessity of introducing by word or action the slightest suggestion of vulgarity. in other words he was a clever artiste that he did not need to stoop low to create laughter.

He did a sketch on his Drums where he pretended to be a tram driver. He would talk to the audience as if they were on the tram lines looking backwards and upwards as he talked to his pretend passengers. His Tram always went to ‘Duplicate’ and the buses all went to ‘Private‘, the number of his tram was ‘92’

 

"Eeeeeeehh! Isn't it grand when you're daft?!"

 

 

 

 

 

Frank Randle (born Arthur Hughes, also known as Arthur McEvoy or Arthur Twist; 30 January 1901 – 7 July 1957) was an English comedian. A contemporary of fellow Lancastrians George Formby and Gracie Fields, he was regarded as more subversive, perhaps the reason that the immense popularity he enjoyed during his lifetime has not survived him.

Born in Aspull, near Wigan, Lancashire, to an unmarried Rhoda Heathcoate Hughes, he left school aged 13 and worked in a variety of menial jobs until two years later he joined an acrobatic troupe. He took the name Arthur McEvoy after his mother married Richard McEvoy. In 1928, he began to tour as a comedian, principally in Lancashire and the North, developing his own show, Randle's Scandals, which in the 1950s featured Roy Castle. He took equity in John E. Blakeley's Manchester-based Mancunian Film Studios and appeared in eight of its productions. In his last film It's a Grand Life, made in 1953, his co-star was Diana Dors.

Randle's mischievous wit led to a running conflict with Harry Barnes, police chief of Lancashire seaside resort Blackpool, who frequently banned and censored his material. Randle responded to his critics in robust fashion, frequently throwing his false teeth into the audience and once bombarding Blackpool from an aeroplane with toilet rolls (according to an episode of Rude Britannia, broadcast by the BBC on 15 June 2010, the toilet roll bombardment actually took place over Accrington, not Blackpool). Randle's police charge sheet is lodged with the Lancashire Constabulary collection, cared for by Lancashire County Museums.

On the outbreak of World War II, having failed his medical to join the RAF, Randle joined the Home Guard and started to establish a career in films that even overtook that of Formby. His iconoclastic portrayal of the underdog, flouting authority and disrupting the establishment found a ready audience in a population suffering the privations of war.

Randle tried to reinvigorate the Accrington Hippodrome in the early 1950's. During his time with the Hippodrome he lived in a large caravan at Green Haworth on the outskirts of the town.Frank had had a love hate relationship with the Hippodrome for a number of years. In February 1954 'The Unemployed Scandals' were appearing at the Hippo. These were 18 ex-members of the Scandles who had broken with Randle some months previously. Randle was signed by Ross Jones, the manager of the Hippo, to rejoin his old cast. He did so and his involvement increased.His idea was to have a different kind of theatre, with entertainment that was contemporary and popular. He introduced such things as wrestling, but the venture failed.


With the decline of the music halls in the 1950s, Randle's popularity faded. Pressed by debts and tax arrears and suffering from the consequences of a life of alcohol abuse, he was made bankrupt by the tax authorities in 1955. He died in Blackpool of gastroenteritis in 1957 and is buried in Carleton Cemetery, Blackpool.

'Ee Bi Gum, luke at yon legs'

 

Al Read (3 March 1909 – 9 September 1987) was a British radio comedian active throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

Read was born in Broughton, Salford, Lancashire and was a sausage maker in his father's business. He became known as a popular after-dinner speaker with wry and well-observed humour in clubs. In 1950 Read made his radio début on the BBC. His comedy was based around the monologue form, but he also became known for dialogues in which he played both voices. His humour was observational and was about northern English working class people, often in a domestic situation.

The Al Read Show was one of the most popular radio comedy shows in the UK in the 1950s and 1960s. Up to 35 million people listened to it each week. His catchphrases "Right Monkey" and "You'll be lucky, I say you'll be lucky!" were well known.

And then there was 'the wife'. Of course this was Al giving a pretty good impression, such as 'you'll be breaking your neck one of these nights trying to get your pants off when you've had a few too many' or 'I'd so little money I had to hide from the window cleaner last week, and to cap it all he leaned through the window and said 'If we're playing hide and seek missus I've caught you'' or 'I've got one pair of flat heeled shoes and they were high heels when I bought 'em'. And then there were Al's plaintive responses as the hen pecked husband, enough to bring a tear to the eye.

In 1963 he headed a variety format for ITV called Life and Al Read which was apparently unscripted and was broadcast live. In 1966 another ITV series called Al Read Says What a Life! was broadcast. He also worked extensively on the variety stage. It was generally considered that sound radio was his best medium[citation needed].

In 1954 he appeared high on the bill at the Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium. In 1959 he appeared with comedian Jimmy Clitheroe in the Royal Northern Variety Performance, in the presence of the Queen Mother, at the Palace Theatre, Manchester.

The introduction to his radio show was usually "Al Read: introducing us to ourselves"; and he himself described his work as "pictures of life". His monologues were perceptive about the human condition, and many monologue recordings are still available from the BBC.

"You'll be lucky, I say you'll be lucky"

Ken Platt (born Kenneth Platt in Leigh, Lancashire, 17 February 1921; died Blackpool, 2 October 1998). His working-class parents found him funny from the start, and at the age of 12 so did the audiences for his Sunday School concerts. Sent to work at the age of 14, he was soon augmenting his wages as a weaver of cables by earning 10 shillings (50 pence) a show at the local Working Men's Club. He taught himself the ukelele and did a passable impression of George Formby.

During his time in the Army in WW2 he worked with the Combined Services Entertainment Unit, and after demobilisation entertained the forces in Germany.

Ken was offered a Radio audition by producer and scriptwriter Ronnie Taylor, and was offered the position of resident comedian on Variety Fanfare. This hugely popular series, billed in Radio Times as "heralding variety in the North", had begun in April 1949 with the popular "shaggy dog" comedian Michael Howard as the resident. Later came Douglas "Cardew" Robinson, the six-foot skinny schoolboy, so clearly Platt was following in famous funny footsteps. During this run of a year he added another catchphrase to his repertoire: "Daft as a brush!".

In 1956 came that great accolade in the world of radio comedy when Ken was cast as a regular character in the BBC's top sitcom series, Educating Archie. This show, starring the ventriloquist Peter Brough and his dummy Archie Andrews, had begun in June 1950 as a six-week try-out and wound up 10 years later in 1960.

The original cast seems star-studded today, but in fact was made up of newcomers to the comedy scene. Max Bygraves was the cheery cockney announcing himself with "I've arrived and to prove it I'm here!" Hattie Jacques played Agatha Dinglebody, Robert Moreton read from his Bumper Fun Book, capping each gag with "Oh, get in there Moreton!" and the teenage Julie Andrews sang stunning soprano songs. Star after star was virtually born in this series: Harry Secombe, Tony Hancock, Alfred Marks, Bernard Miles, Beryl Reid and Dick Emery, to name but a few. And, of course, in 1956 Ken Platt.

The Fifties proved a profitable period for Platt. At Christmas 1952 he starred in his first pantomime at the Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield. In 1954 the impresarios George and Alfred Black put him into their summer season show at Blackpool, and in 1955 he toured the music halls in All Star Variety with that bouncy but ill-fated croonette Alma Cogan.

In 1960 he starred in his first straight play, Love Locked Out, at the Alhambra Theatre, Morecambe, and in 1962 he returned to television to star in his own series, Saturday Bandbox. Now and then he popped up in several sitcoms, including The Liver Birds in 1971, where he played a Liverpool deliveryman. His best-remembered spot of television fun may be on the BBC's The Good Old Days in 1969, when he shared the period stage with another great northern comic, Albert Modley.

Ken suffered a severe stroke in 1990.

'ALLO, I won't take me coat off, I'm not stoppin'!"

 

 

 

 

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Arthur Bowden Askey CBE (6 June 1900 – 16 November 1982) was a a diminutive British comedian and actor. Askey's humour owed much to the playfulness of the characters he portrayed, his improvising, his use of catchphrases and his cheery persona.

Askey was born at 29 Moses Street, Liverpool, Lancashire, the eldest child and only son of Samuel Askey (d.1958), secretary of the firm Sugar Products of Liverpool, and his wife, Betsy Bowden (d.1949), of Knutsford, Cheshire. Six months after his birth the family moved to 90 Rosslyn Street, Liverpool. Askey was educated at St. Michael's Council School (1905–11) and the Liverpool Institute for Boys (1911–16), where he was known for winning an egg and spoon race at a school sports day. He was very small at 5' 2" (1.58 m), with a breezy, smiling personality, and wore distinctive horn-rimmed glasses.

He began his professional career as a music hall performer in 1924, but it wasn't until 1938's Band Waggon (1940) (which lasted a full five seasons), that he became a household name in England. His film debut was in the 1937 British feature Calling All Stars (1937), but then, in 1939, Band Waggon (1940) swooped in again and made him a film star with a film following on from when Arthur and co-star Richard "Stinker" Murdoch were evicted from their beloved flat.

His last film was Rosie Dixon - Night Nurse (1978), starring Debbie Ash. Soon afterwards, he was forced to give up performing, and had both legs amputated owing to circulatory problems. Anthea, his daughter by his marriage to Elizabeth May Swash (m. 1925, d. 1974), was also an actress and often starred with him.
For many years, he was an active member of the Savage Club (a London gentlemen's club).
He was awarded the OBE in 1969 and the CBE in 1981.
[edit]Recordings
His recording career included "The Bee Song", The Thing-Ummy Bob[1] and his theme tune, "Big-Hearted Arthur", (which was also his nickname). During the 1950s and 1960s, he appeared in many sitcoms, including Love and Kisses, Arthur's Treasured Volumes and The Arthur Askey Show. However, in 1940, a song he intended to record, "It's Really Nice to See you Mr Hess" (after Hitler's deputy fled to Scotland), was banned by the War Office. A collection of Askey's wartime recordings appear on the CD album Band Waggon/Big Hearted Arthur Goes To War. Private Eye magazine in the 1970s regularly made the comment that he and the Queen Mother had "never been seen in the same room together" — referring to the fact that they were both of about the same age and height, and suggesting that the Queen Mother was Askey in drag.

"Before your very eyes"

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Ted Ray (21 November 1905 – 8 November 1977) was a popular British comedian of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

Ray was born Charlie Olden in Wigan, Lancashire, England. His parents moved to Liverpool within days of his birth and Liverpudlians regard him as a local. His stage name was inspired by a famous golfer of the 1920s, whose name he had selected from a sporting diary.

Ray's route into the theatre was punctuated by work as a ship's steward, an office clerk and a dance band violinist before he made his debut at the Palace Theatre, Preston, Lancashire in 1927. Three years later, he was appearing in London Music Hall.

The height of Ted Ray's fame was undoubtedly through his work in radio comedy, where his own series, Ray's A Laugh which commenced transmission in 1949, rapidly became a firm household favourite, running eventually for twelve years. This popularity lead to four appearances - three of them consecutive - in the prestigious Royal Variety Performance. A year later, he became Master of Ceremonies on Calling All Forces, a BBC variety show.

Television work beckoned and Ray was undoubtedly a natural, able to work to the camera in empty studios as though he was in a packed theatre. His affinity and direct interaction with the audience made him a popular performer on both sides of the camera lens. In 1955, he fronted his own monthly BBC comedy series, insipidly titled The Ted Ray Show, which ran in various forms until 1958, at which point he temporarily jumped ship and made six programmes for independent television entitled (much more imaginatively) Hip Hip Who Ray, which were more stand-up focused than his BBC shows. Among his other television work were readings of children's stories on the long-running Jackanory strand and regular appearances on McDonald Hobley's panel game, Does The Team Think?. Also in cooperation with McDonald Hobley Ted worked on It's A Knockout with Charlie Chester. Again Ted's quick fire delivery fitted the programme like a glove.

Ted Ray also made appearances in feature films, his earliest being Elstree Calling (1930), followed by Radio Parade of 1935 (1935). He featured in a run of films in the 1950s, including the starring role in Carry On Teacher (1959), an early entry in Peter Rogers and Gerald Thomas' long running and hugely successful film series.


Ted Ray's quick patter and lightening repartee were shown off to great effect in shows like 'Does the team think?' when his sparkling one liners very often stole the show.

"You should use stronger elastic"