Tour Dates and Places
|Weds 30th Sept – Thurs 1st Oct||Ashton-under-Lyne Tameside Theatre||6pm and 8:45pm|
|Fri 2nd Oct||Preston Guild Hall||7:30pm|
|Sat 3rd Oct||New Brighton Pavilion||6pm and 8:45pm|
|Sun 4th Oct||Winsford Civic Hall||6pm and 8:45pm|
|Tues 6th Oct||Derby Assembly Rooms||6:15pm and 8:45pm|
|Wed 7th – Thurs 8th Oct||Stockport Davenport Theatre||6:30pm and 9:15pm|
|Fri 9th Oct||Sunderland Empire||6:15pm and 8:45pm|
|Sat 10th Oct||Middlesbrough Town Hall||6pm and 8:45pm|
|Sun 11th Oct||Oldham Queen Elizabeth Hall||5:45pm and 8:30pm|
|Tues 13th – Weds 14th Oct||Cardiff New Theatre||6pm and 8:45pm|
|Fri 16th – Sat 17th Oct||Oxford Apollo||6:15pm and 9pm (16th)
6pm and 8:45pm (17th)
|Sun 18th Oct||Croyden Fairfield Hall||6pm and 8:30pm|
|Mon 19th Oct||Brighton Dome||6:15pm and 8:45pm|
|Tues 20th Oct||Portsmouth Guildhall||7:30pm|
|Sat 24th Oct||Wolverhampton Civic Hall||5:45pm and 8:30pm|
|Sun 25th – Mon 26th Oct||Hull New Theatre||5:45pm and 8:30pm (25th)
5:00pm and 7:30pm (26th)
|Weds 28th – Sat 31st Oct||Bradford Alhambra||6pm and 8:30pm|
Cannon and Ball
The rise of Cannon and Ball to becoming one of the most consistently ‘in demand’ double act in the country is one of real success. Success that can be measured in the respect and admiration of their fellow artistes, and the loyalty of their ever growing audiences.
The Cannon and Ball story is one of talent, hard work, and continual striving for perfection. This dedication is amply demonstrated nightly when they ‘top the bill’ at the country’s leading theatres and cabaret clubs.
There cannot be many artistes today who are kept as busy as Cannon and Ball. But their success is no accident. It has been hard won. Indeed, Cannon and Ball have been regarded as one of clubland’s funniest double acts for well over a decade, and remain the only entertainers to have won the prestigious Club Mirror ‘Comedy Act of The Year’ award on three seperate occasions.
It was in 1961 that Cannon and Ball first worked together, not as entertainers but as welders for a North West engineering company. It was here that their stage relationship developed. “Tommy used to look after me when I got into trouble. We were always fooling about for the lads at work.” (Bobby Ball)
Encouraged by an enthusiastic response at work, they would often be found in the evenings entertaining a wider audience. This part of homely Lancashire is still the guardian of the music hall tradition. Talent shows and social clubs still play an active part in the community. It was to these that Cannon and Ball turned.
Initially they performed as a singing duo. “I used to sing” recalls Bobby Ball, “and Tommy would accompany me on the drums, then we would swap over and Tommy would sing to my accompaniment – all for £3.00 a night.”
However, their talent for comedy soon began to enter the act. Comedy entirely original and unique; comedy loosely based on their working relationships as welders. As the act began to develop through appearances in the pubs and social clubs of South East Lancashire, they began to look out for opportunity to enter showbusiness.
Working mainly in social clubs in the north of England, Cannon and Ball can look back at overcoming some of the toughest audiences in the country. Lesser artistes have not survived these most demanding and discriminating audiences. Sometimes they were “paid off” after only one appearance. One night in Newcastle they went on stage to complete silence. During their act there was not a flicker of response from the audience and, at the end they came off to the same silence. They were sitting afterwards in a state of mild shock when the manager came into their dressing room to congratulate them. “You did well lads” he said, “You kept ’em quiet.”
Cannon and Ball not only survived this experience, but learned how to build a following that is now the envy of many top artistes. At this time they were known as ‘The Harper Brothers’. In 1970 they teamed up with their present manager, Stuart Littlewood, who persuaded them that a change of name would be for the better. Over lunch one day the three came up with the name “Cannon and Ball” and from that point they have never looked back.
After two years, Cannon and Ball started to attract attention outside the north of England. In 1965 they began to appear throughout the country. It was now that their earlier tough apprenticeship proved invaluable. They were quickly able to overcome many of the problems that some northern comedians experience when appearing outside their region.
Never having to rely on dialect or stories, their zany style needed only subtle changes.
In 1972 Cannon and Ball undertook tours to Australia and South Africa for cabaret and radio.
However, their early television experiences have been less kind to the pair. Cannon and Ball still look back in anguish to the night opportunity knocked for them on Hughie Green’s talent programme. “We were terrible”, says Bobby Ball. “We were the proverbial ‘Opportunity flops'”. At the end of their act the clapometer, which registers the audience’s applause “scarcely flickered”, he says.
They were learning. There was another TV chance with ‘The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club’. Then came what appeared to be their big chance with a projected series of appearances on Bruce Forsyth’s ‘Big Night’, but before they had reached the screen the programme had run into ratings trouble and in the subsequent revamping their contributions had ended up on the cutting room floor.
In 1978 they undertook a nationwide tour with the American singer, Gene Pitney, appearing at the London Palladium and other major theatres.
Another TV mis-fire for Cannon and Ball came in July 1979, when technicians pulled the plugs on ITV after two shows of their first series. The couple became known among their colleagues as ‘Cannon and Blackout’, and it was October before the series returned. However, this series established Cannon and Ball as firm favourites with millions.
Their record-breaking panto at Bradford ran into March 1981, when they began work on the Saturday night TV series, followed by a highly successful summer season at Great Yarmouth.
All in all it has been a hectic past 12 months for Cannon and Ball. It was a year ago that their second TV series took off and they reached the number 10 spot in the ratings, and between May and September they filled the 1,500 seats of Blackpool’s North Pier twice nightly and six times a week. There were occasions when enthusiastic audiences stormed the stage and two elderly holidaymakers actually died laughing at them.
All 7,000 tickets for a week at a Birmingham theatre recently were sold out eight months in advance. Even such international stars as Jack Jones, The Three Degrees, and Dionne Warwick, had not attracted such interest, said the manager, who added: “With these bookings we could play them 52 weeks in the year.”
But for a couple of proud north countrymen the final accolade came in the autumn when they were invited to switch on the Blackpool illuminations: an honour which compares roughly with having a rose named after you at the Chelsea Flower Show. Their immediate predecessors in this role were Kermit and Red Rum. “They ran out of animals”, jokes Bobby Ball.
Their LP ‘Rock On Tommy’ gained them a silver disc and their two singles have been selling well.
A few years ago, Eric Morecambe named them as “the next double act”, and has since gone on to say: “I like them because they emanate a lot of warmth. Bobby Ball has a lot of heart and Tommy Cannon isn’t just a straight man. Another five years will establish them in a big way”.
They are certainly repaying their early confidence for it is easy to see why Cannon and Ball are so much sought after as top stars in Britain’s theatres and cabarets.
I was born in Shaw, near Oldham. Oldham was too posh for me. There were five in our family, two sisters, Mum and Dad and me. It was often difficult to make ends meet at home, so lunchtime would see my sisters and I touring the local cotton mills with our singing act. It put bread on the table, so I suppose it could be said that this was my first professional engagement.
I have a marvellous family. Yvonne and I have three wonderful children – Robert, Darren and Joanna.
I like fishing, but my real ambition would be to build a childrens adventure playground.
Every act in show business dreams of a TV series, and now that we’ve reached that ambition, we intend to make the most of it, success is our main priority we don’t even consider failure. And that’s not meant to sound big-headed. We just don’t fancy returning to the factory floor as welders – that’s one double act which is definitely behind us!
Tommy thinks he’s being big and butch, but so is a bulldog!
I was born in Oldham. After leaving school at fifteen, I started work in the building trade and later became a welder for an engineering company. It was while I was working as a welder I met my partner, Bobby Ball. A lot of our material is based on how we were in those days. He was trying to be my friend – now he is just trying.
I have been married now to Margaret for over 20 years and have two beautiful daughters, Jeanette and Julie.
I’m a golf and keep-fit fanatic. One of my ambitions is to play the pro-celebrity golf on television. Jack Nicklaus would be my ideal partner.
We have no pretentions,we’re a couple of ordinary fellas enjoying what we do best of all – entertaining people and making them laugh. Bobby and I can talk for hours about showbiz and our own act. We have never been the types to sit still. Even today we are constantly changing our act and looking for new and fresh TV ideas.
As for my professional partner, well, what can you say? He thinks he’s got eyes like Paul Newman – No don’t laugh, just let him believe
Dianne Lee was born into a musical atmosphere. “I knew at the early age of three that I wanted to go on the stage”, she says. “My brother and sister had started to attend a local dancing school and it wasn’t long before I followed”. It was at dancing school that she made her first-ever public performance at the age of four.
“When I left school I turned towards light entertainment, and landed a job as a dancer in the chorus line. And I was soon appearing in pantomime, summer season and cabaret work. It was great fun.
“In 1968 I came to London with my cousin Liz and together we joined the Pamela Davies Dancers and made numerous appearances on television, in cabaret and the theatre. It was fabulous experience.
“Being an ambitious girl, with aspirations of stardom, I soon realised I was being stifled in the chorus line. The strict regimentation of chorus work proved a valuable experience, but I desperately wanted to develop on my own. So cousin Liz and I decided to form the Hailey Twins.
“We worked our way round the provincial nightclub circuit as a dancing duo. It was great fun and we were seldom out of work. Trouble was, we kept bumping into this man called Lennie Peters. We always seemed to be working on the same bill together.”
“I suppose it was natural for Lennie and I to team up together. It was during the early part of 1970 that Liz and I started to get ‘itchy feet’, so to speak. She kept saying that she wanted to branch out on her own dancing. So one night, I told Lennie of Liz’s ambitions and he just said matter of fact – “If she wants to go solo let her! and if you’re stuck for a job, why not team up with me?”
Well, I’d been doing a bit of singing in the act with Lizzie and I suppose I really wanted to develop in that direction. So I told Lennie I’d give it a go. Liz was happy with the news and everything worked out nicely. I changed my name from Hailey to Lee… and the Peters and Lee duo was formed.
It was in 1970 that the Peters and Lee duo was first formed, yet it took three years for them to emerge from the obscurity of the Northern club circuit, to national recognition. That success began on Thames Television’s talent show ‘Opportunity Knocks’ when several winning performances captured the imagination of the viewing public. Within months, their debut single recording of ‘Welcome Home’ topped the British charts, rapidly followed by their first album ‘We Can Make It’…. which brought world-wide recognition.
In addition to recording success which brought them platinum, gold and silver discs, they hosted their own television series for ATV: made numerous appearances on major T.V. shows; played cabaret at all the top venues, including three sell out seasons at London’s Talk of the Town; and appeared in the 1973 Royal Variety Performance and at many other charity functions attended by members of the Royal Family.
Over the years too, they were consistently successful starring in seasonal and summer shows, breaking box-office records in Blackpool, Great Yarmouth and at many of Britain’s leading resorts. They also headlined at the prestigious Rainbow Grill in New York, and toured Australia and New Zealand with outstanding commitments together, Lennie and Dianne decided to go their own separate ways and resume their own individual solo careers.
Dianne has just completed very successful seasons starring in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ at Bournemouth, and as the Special Guest Star in the ‘Cannon and Ball Show’ at Great Yarmouth.
When experience is allied to natural talent – especially in the field of comedy – there is a great performer and Bobby fits perfectly into this category. Having been a comedian for twenty five years Bobby is equally at home in Clubs. Cabaret and Theatre, having topped the bill at nearly all the leading Theatre Clubs in Britain on many occasions, he has headlined in many of the Theatres and has enjoyed great success on his frequent visits to Australia. South Africa and the U.S.A. Over the past six years he has had a varied T.V. career, as well as stand up comedy he has done many straight acting rolls in some of the top television programmes: When the Boat Comes In. Cuckoo Waltz. PC. Penrose. I Didn’t Know You Cared. Nearly Man. Cowboys. Strangers. Barriers. Coronation Street, and many more.
His career took another turn in 1978 when, after living in Yorkshire for 18 years, he returned to his native Newcastle to do his own television series for Tyne Tees Television, it was during this time that he opened his own Club/Theatre Restaurant which he called the ‘Talk of the Tyne’ which was an immediate success and is now one of the most well known entertainment venues in Britain. he has since opened a further two venues which are each enjoying similar success.
Now that his business’s are firmly established he welcomes the occasional ‘back on the road’ engagements and is really looking forward to this tour with ‘Tommy and Bobby’. “Cannon and Ball have been friends of mine for a long time” he says “and it’s wonderful to share the joy of their success. They possess comedy genius and fully deserve the acclaim that has now come their way”. – He’s going to enjoy tonights show and he knows for certain so are you.
Chris North and Jill
Chris North & Jill came to fame when they won ‘New Faces’ with 114 points out of a possible 120. in March 1976. They received very good comments from the panel as they did when they subsequently appeared on the ‘All Winners Show’ and later in the same year, a New Faces Gala Show’. This success brought interest from major clubs and hotels all over the country. A Top of the Bill’ performance on one of the shows in the ‘Wheeltappers & Shunters’ series increased their appeal during 1976. and to cap a fantastic year at the end of 1976 they learnt that they had been awarded club lands most coveted award – The ‘National Club Award’ for the ‘Top Speciality Act in Britain’ given by ‘Club Mirror’ and selected by nominations from clubs throughout Britain.
During the Christmas 1977 period Chris and Jill spent three weeks appearing on the P. & O. Flagship Canberra on its Christmas cruise to Rio. So successful was this that P. & O. have used them extensively on both ‘Canberra’ and ‘Oriana’ ever since, and more recently, on their new liner ‘Sea Princess’ – based in Sydney and cruising the South Pacific.
In between cruises. Chris & Jill have appeared on several television shows, including ‘Tom O’Connor’s’ ‘London Night Out’ – Magnus Pyke’s ‘Don’t Ask Me’, and Ted Rogers ‘ – ‘3.2.1.’
One of the reasons for their great success in such a short time, has been their thoroughly professional approach to their job. No expense is spared in the costumes which are made specially for them. The illusions are kept in first-class condition, and the whole act is carefully rehearsed and very well presented. This has made them respected throughout the business as one of the top acts of their kind around at the moment.