Cannon and Ball starred as pirates Smee and Yoo. Lee Brennan (singer with boyband 911) starred as Peter Pan. Crossroads stars Tony Adams and Jane Rossington also starred.
13th Dec – 2nd Feb. �8.70 – �5.70
Dates and times
�5.70 – �8.70 depending on seat location. Various reductions for concessions, and groups.
Souvenir Brochure and photos
|King Rat||Sean Canning|
|The Spirit of the Bells||Vanessa Skaer|
|Dick Whittington||David Ian|
|Sarah the Cook||Freddie Lees|
|Sultan of Morocco
Lord othe Sprits
|Sammy the Cat||Brendan Stapleton|
|Alice Fitzwarren||Bernadette Nolan|
Man in the Shop
|Woman in the Shop||Sarah Liddle|
Cannon and Ball
To describe Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball as stars is at the very least an understatement. To describe them as superstars and a true phenomenon is perhaps more accurate.
Since their debut TV series for London Weekend Television in 1979 they have not only become top TV stars with their own television series and specials every year, but they are – without doubt – the biggest box office attraction in the UK.
To have not only sold out all other comedy acts, but to have outdrawn even rock superstar Bruce Springsteen, is a totally unique achievement which puts them in a category all of their own.
In the summer of 85 their ten-week run at the Opera House, Blackpool, smashed all previous records by playing to over 300,000 people and grossing over one million pounds. Results in 1986 were the same when they played a season at the Bournemouth International Centre. Booking for their 1986/87 pantomime flooded in and Babes in the Wood at the Alhambra theatre was yet another success with the record books once again having to be re-written!
Cannon and Ball’s star status is further enhanced by the fact that they are the only act in showbusiness to have won three seperate National Club Awards; they have enjoyed success as recoding artistes with both singles and albums; starred in their own feature film ‘The Boys In Blue’; triumphed in numerous popularity polls and have also been named Showbusiness Personalities of the Year by the Variety Club of Great Britain, the highest accolade that can be bestowed by fellow professionals.
So what is the secret of this unequalled success which has included Royal Shows, a memorable appearance on This Is Your Life and their top-rated Christmas Spectaculars?
It is without question a success which has evolved from an initial friendship between two Oldham lads who got together to form a singing act.
Bobby (Robert Harper) and Tommy (Thomas Derbyshire) were former workmates at an Oldham engineering factory in the 1960’s. By day they were welders, but at night they became the Harper Brothers, a singing duo, which achieved a great deal of popularity in the Northern clubs.
It soon became evident that Bobby had a natural flair for comedy and this was complemented by Tommy’s ability to remain straight-faced; acting as the perfect foil. Singing remained part of their act, but the comedy content grew stronger as did their popularity.
“It got to the point where we were rehearsing our act on the factory floor”, says Tommy. “Many were the times that we were reprimanded by the foreman! Then out of the blue, Wally Harper, Bobby’s cousin and a professional comic, booked us for a week at a club in Wales. The response was terrific. After that we decided to give up our daytime jobs and concentrate on showbusiness.
Since then their career of over twenty years is showbusiness history – their series and specials are always in the top TV ratings and they play to capacity audiences not just in the UK, but even in Australia and the Middle East.
“We have no pretensions”, says Tommy, “We’re a couple of ordinary blokes doing what we do best – entertaining people and making them laugh. We love it. The important thing is that we haven’t changed in our attitudes. We’re still Bobby and Tommy to everyone and still get a kick every time someone shouts ‘Rock on Tommy’ in the street”.
In their increasingly rare off-stage moments, both Tommy and Bobby like to keep fit, whilst Bobby also enjoys the solitude of the riverbank, angaging in his favourite pastime, fishing. Bobby has also published his series of childrens books. Tommy prefers to divide his time between playing golf, following football and his race horses.
1987 was just as busy as ever for Cannon and Ball. Following the finish of their pantomime in Bradford at the end of February, Tommy and Bobby took a well earned holiday and then straight into a spring tour from mid-April until the end of June. Their summer season at Blackpool Opera House commenced mid July until the end of October – another marathon record breaking fourteen week season.
The Guinness Book of Records had to be re-written yet again when Cannon and Ball took their pantomime ‘Babes in the Wood’ for the 1987/8 Christmas season to the most famous variety theatre in the world – The London Palladium. During its breathtaking �2 million run another record was created, when during one week ticket sales contributed to the biggest box office gross in the history of the British theatre.
The London Palladium embraces true stars and makes them feel at home, and the London Palladium certainly became a second home to Tommy and Bobby; where, in addition to their pantomime season, from the same stage they recorded their TV Christmas special; appeared with Jimmy Tarbuck as his guest stars in LWT’s Live from the Palladium series, and appeared in the Royal Variety Show before Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness Prince Philip.
Touring, television and summer season in Paignton occupied most of 1988, and Christmas 1988 found Tommy and Bobby on home ground, taking Babes in the Wood to the Palace Theatre in Manchester, where yet again all pantomime box office records were broken.
A completely new venture took off during spring 1989, when Cannon and Ball starred in the comedy play ‘You’ll Do For Me’ which was directed by Brian Rix and toured throughout Britain. Summer ’89 was spent in Scarborough with Sunday concerts being held across the Pennines where they starred at the Opera House in Blackpool.
Following summer season they recorded for Yorkshire Television and during October and November undertook a cabaret tour. Their lavish Babes in the Wood was at Birmingham Hippodrome Christmas 89/90 followed by more work with Yorkshire Television. A spring tour during 1990 was followed by a summer season in Greay Yarmouth and more cabaret work towards the end of the year.
Christmas 1990/91 found them in Southampton, once more appearing in Babes in the Wood, at the Mayflower Theatre. They played a short tour in April 1991 before going into a 25-week summer North Pier season in Blackpool where they celebrated their 25th anniversary in showbusiness – one week for every year together – which began in May straight through to November. Sundays during high season found Tom and Bob once more popping over the M62 to appear in concert at the Futurist Theatre in Scarborough.
Another diversion for Cannon and Ball – a sit-com series where they appear as security officers in a shopping mall Plaza Patrol was on our screen during July and August 1991.
Bernadette is the second youngest and lead singer with The Nolans, and has been performing on stage since she was two years old. She was born in Dublin but left there at the age of 1 and has lived in England ever since.
With her sisters, she has enjoyed phenomenal success, both in this country and abroad. It began in the UK with all six girls, appearing on every major television show possible, including The Royal Variety Show, the girls were given four specials of their own; something they had always wanted to do.
The Nolans record successes have included an amazing number of hit singles and albums, culminating in over twenty gold, silver and platinum disks.
Their greatest successes, however, were in Japan, where record sales reached over nine million (exceeding The Beatles). They were also the first ever European act to win the Tokyo Music Festival, where competition included Rany Crawford and Jermaine Jackson.
One of Bernies favourite countries is Australia, where the girls have toured extensively and once again enjoyed record success with hit singles including two No. 1s and albums such as Altogether for which they received a double platinum disc.
Probably the greatest thrill of Bernies career so far was doing a European tour with Frank Sinatra, where she was able to take her dad, an avid Sinatra fan, backstage to meet the man himself.
In May of 1988, Bernie was asked to co-present a new weekly Saturday morning show On The Waterfront which was a great success, and her first solo venture. Although she is still part of the Nolans as a group, Bernie couldn’t resist the opportunity to do her first pantomime at the end of 1988, at the Manchester Palace Theatre, then in 1989 she appeared for the first time at the Birmingham Hippodrome, followed by the Mayflower Southampton the following year.
Last year The Nolans completed a one-nighter tour followed by a summer season at Great Yarmouth, both with Cannon and Ball, and keeping up the connection Bernie has just completed a solo guest spot in a rock and roll tour with Feddie Fabulous, alias Bobby Ball, and she says it was the most fun she’d had in a long time.
After appearing on Tonight With Jonathan Ross singing an anti-establishment Smiths’ song (tongue in cheek), The Nolans were immediately signed by National Panasonic for a six album deal, five for the Japanese market and one for the UK. The Japanese albums consist of Japanese hits sung in English and the UK album will come as a surprise to a lot of people.
Meanwhile, Bernie is delighted to be involved in her fourth panto production with Cannon and Ball.
Born in Essex, David began his career performing in cabaret venues all over Europe and the UK. His first theatrical role was as `Rocky’ in the National tour of The Rocky Horror Show. He then joined the cast of Dave Clark’s hit musical Time at London’s Dominion Theatre, and took over the lead role of the `Rock Star’ from David Cassidy six months later.
After a tour of Kiss Of The Spiderwoman, David spent six exhausting but enjoyable months as `Joseph’ in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
A regular panto performer, David’s last appearance was at the Congress Theatre, Eastbourne with Wayne Sleep and Patrick Mower in Goldilocks and the Three Bears! Following this he joined Paul Nicholas and Bonnie Langford in the national tour of Pirates of Penzance which culminated in a season at the London Palladium.
David’s TV appearances include Wagon, 3.2.1, Keith Harris Show and he has twice appeared on Song For Europe. He has featured several times as a solo artist on Radio 2’s Songs From The Shows.
A keep fit fanatic Divides many hobbies include karate, boxing and playing football every week for the famous Showbiz XI raising thousands of pounds all over the country for charity.
Recently David co-starred in the national tour of Pirates of Penzance. David has just formed his own Production Company with Paul Nicholas. Their first venue, Jesus Christ Superstar was a sell out at Blackpool Opera House this summer and is set to go on a National Tour in 1992.
Freddie is one of the country’s leading pantomime Dames and this is his 34th pantomime and 19th Dame. He comes to Hull following a long tour of the UK playing the part of Phil in Last Tango In Whitby, his second appearance in a Mike Harding play. In 1989 he played Grandad in the highly successful national tour of Fur Coat and no Knickers. His career spans 35 years and he has worked in most of the regional theatres, more recently in Loot and A Doll’s House at Leatherhead; See How They Run and Amadeus at Windsor; Taking Steps at Sonning and Romeo and Juliet, The Normal Heart, Pravada and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Nottingham. Fringe theatre includes The Good Woman Of Sechuan and Feydeau’s Fitting For Ladies both at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, Surrey. A season of Kennedy’s Children in Amsterdam was followed by Bedroom Farce in Vienna. West End appearances include Billy at Drury Lane: Norman Is That You at the Phoenix and the record breaking Cinderella with Jim Davidson at the Dominion. He played the lead in Radio 4’s six part serial Deep Six and TV appearances include Goose With Pepper; Love Affair; Compliments Of The Season; Sunday Sunday; Tandoori Nights; King and Castle; Coronation Street and The Bill.
After using the Royal Exchange Youth Workshop as an excuse to dodge getting a Saturday job in his teens, and productions for the National Youth Theatre playing “Autolycus” in A Winters Tale and “Lucio” in Measure For Measure, Sean decided that this was the life.
Once in theatre school he discovered unrealised skills in dancing, writing, singing and winning drinking competitions. After graduating in 1987 he toured clubs in a jazz dancing group, finally choreographing groups of his own.
Word of his choreography spread to the fashion world, where Sean now spends most of his time producing, choreographing, modelling and dancing in shows for major retailers, as well as numerous design shows in clubs, universities, large shopping centres and on the catwalks of Paris.
Amidst all this he sang in a hard rock and roll band for five years, directing large theatre shows for children and last summer, he acted in a science fiction clown show!
Last year was his introduction to pantomime and to E & B Productions. As John Nettles’ understudy, he was spotted by Paul Elliott and rose from the ranks of the chorus to the part of King Rat this year. Sean would like to thank all involved in this stroke of legendary showbiz fluke, which still has him reeling.
During the past fifteen years, whilst absent from the profession running a publishing house, James has been actively engaged with the Tavistock Repertory Company, London and for the last 2 years has been administrator for the Tower Theatre, Darlington. Theatre credits include parts as varied as `Peachum’ in Threepenny Opera, to `Jack Worthing’ in The Importance Of Being Earnest. Over the past five years he has played `Ugly Sister’ and `Dame’ in Original pantomimes for the Tower Theatre. He devised and presented a Noel Coward evening Cowards Corner, which played in Suffolk, Plymouth and Canterbury. Television credits include the Ronnie Barker Show, Ryan International and most recently The Bill. His most recent theatre appearance was in the first professional revival of Lionel Bart’s musical Blitz in Newcastle last June.
After leaving college five years ago, Vanessa has performed all over England and varied countries around the world. She most recently returned from Turkey appearing in The Best of Broadway for the Istanbul Arts Festival ’91, where she played the roles of `Anita’ in West Side Story and `Eponine’ in Les Miserables. Prior to this she spent six months in York at the Theatre Royal, where she played ‘Consuelo’ in their production of West Side Story and then stayed on to appear in the pantomime Mother Goose.
She toured France in the Let’s Dance Roadshow and played `Marguerite’ in the National Tour of West Side Story.
Vanessa also has acrobatic and juggling skills which she had to learn for Barnum in London, after which she embarked on a lengthy tour of Europe in The Golden Musicals of Broadway in which she sang the roles of `Christine’ in Phantom of the Opera, and again `Eponine’ in Les Miserables and `Anita’ in West Side Story.
Vanessa has also appeared in the following pantomimes – Cinderella at Southampton and Jack and the Beanstalk in Croydon. TV credits include Making News, Hearts of Gold and Comic Relief ’91, plus various TV commercials and voice-overs.
Peter Purves – Director
Peter is probably best known for his ten year spell as one of the presenters of the childrens TV programme, Blue Peter. But his career spans more than thirty years, from the day he played his first professional role in the theatre (the Sheriff in The Rainmaker at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Barrow) to the present day. During that time he has appeared in more than 100 plays in the theatre, including a season in the chorus at the London Palladium; at least fifty TV appearances as an actor including a year as William Hartnell’s Sidekick in Doctor Who; and since becoming a Television Presenter, has presented more than 1,200 programmes, which have ranged from Stopwatch, We’re Going Places, Special Assignments, and Inside Story to Driver Of The fear, Crufts, Babble and his current successes Superdogs and Kickstart, both of which will be on your screens again early in 1992. A couple of years ago he even had a cameo role as an investigative TV journalist in Eastenders. Much of his time these days, is taken up with producing, writing and directing videos for corporate clients for his own company – Purves Wickes Video Projects – with clients as diverse as The Hanson Trust and Whitbread, BT and Haven Warner Leisure. He has produced a number of TV commercials, including those for the UK and USA Productions of the Hit Musical Buddy.
He is currently involved as Producer in the development of two major TV series – a new motoring based programme, and an on-going and very prestigious series on the National Trust.
He has starred in a number of pantomimes for E and B Productions with his colleagues from Blue Peter, John Noakes and Lesley Judd and made his Directing debut in 1981. Since then he has directed stars such as Dennis Waterman, Lorraine Chase, Rula Lenska, Tom O’Connor, Bill Owen, Matthew Kelly, Sarah Kennedy, Lance Percival and Bonnie Langford.
This is his first visit to the Hull New Theatre. He is married to actress Kathryn Evans, whom he met when they appeared together in Pantomime in Guildford in 1978. They live in Warwickshire.