Overture – The orchestra under the direction of Dave Marrion
The Scandalettes introduce
Neil Martin, Leah Bell, Cannan and Ball, and
What a Gay Day
Leah Bell and the Scandalettes
Cannon and Ball
Viva La Paree! with Leah Bell and the Scandalettes
Featuring the Sedojas and
The Scandalettes with
Shut that Door!
Directed by: Albert J. Knight
Choreography by: Ken Martin
The Scandalettes: Julie Bridgeman, Kathy Lawes, Michelle Peters, Gill Rigby, Elaine Somers, Wendy Anne Underhill
The very first thing that must be said about Larry Grayson is that he is not a ‘television comedian’ who makes personal appearances to cash in on his TV fame. He is an ‘in person’ performer who has won recognition nationwide by his television appearances after years of apprenticeship in variety, musical comedy and revue. His talent was recently paid the greatest tribute when he was asked to take over from Bruce Forsyth as compere of the Generation Game.
In his early years Larry toured with Harry Leslies ‘Tomorrows Stars’ – prophetic title!, followed by engagements and revues in London, television spots, a very successful summer show and Christmas pantomime at Brighton, and a short season at Danny La Rue’s celebrated nightclub in Hanover Square, London.
“I can’t sing, I can’t dance and I can’t act”, says Larry. “So I will just have to be a star”. This jesting reference came true when Peter Dulay booked him for one or two fleeting appearances on ATVs Saturday Variety series, starting in January 1972. His original four minute unscripted chat spot just wasn’t enough, and he was asked back week after week. “I like to tell them my troubles”, says this extraordinary laughter-maker. “I have aches and pains all over, and I have various differences with my friend Everard”.
Larry soon built up a following all over the country. Not only viewers of all ages – there seems to be no ‘generation gap’ where appreciation of Larry Grayson is concerned – but even the stage hands, studion executives, and those who have ‘seen ’em all come and go’ were all appreciative and highly enthusiastic about his performances. “It’s a wonder that I stay in focus” he said on one occasion. “The cameraman was actually laughing out loud.”
What is also unique is that Larry Grayson doesn’t really rely on jokes to make people laugh. It is in his very human ‘asides’ that his greatest appeal lies. His catch-phrases “Shut that door!”, “What a gay day!” etc. became givts to the man impressionists who were quick to add him to their list of subjects.
In May 1972 he had the honour and the thrill of appearing in a special Royal Gala Variety Performance at the London Palladium in aid of the British Olympics Appeal Fund, in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The show was televised the following week, and Larry Grayson had arrived.
His own ATV series folowed shortly after this in which he was able to share personal reminiscences with many artistes with whom he had appeared in various shows over the years – stars like Norman Vaughan, Dora Bryan, John Hanson and Noelle Gordon. His first single “Shut that Door!” and an LP called “What a Gay Day” came out just before Christmas 1972 followed BY Eamonn Andrews introducing him as the star of ‘This is Your Life’.
And though he is now a recognised star, Larry Grayson has not altered attitude one little bit. After many years of frustrating appearances which entertained audiences but led nowhere, he has won deserved recognition for his unique powers as a giver of laughter. Open that door and let Larry Grayson give some to you.
Cannon and Ball
Tom Cannon and Bobby Ball are two likeable Lancashire lads who, in the last six years, have risen from comparative obscurity to become one of the top comedy double acts in this country.
A couple of years ago they were voted ‘best comedy duo’ by the readers of the newspaper ‘Club Mirror’ and were subsequently asked to appear on Granada Televisions show ‘Wheeltappers and Shunter Club Awards Show’. The boys have also been featured on BBC televisions ‘Seaside Special’ and more recently they have had their own TV special for Granada, which, we hope, is going to extablish them as regular television favourites.
They have toured Australia and South Africa, and recent summer seasons have included Bournemouth Winter Gardens with Rolf Harris, Jerseys West Park Pavilion where they ‘topped the bill’, and last year they were in Cleethorpes with Tony Christie.
They are also pantomime favourites, and recent seasons have included Bradfords Alhambra Theatre with Charlie Drake, Leeds Grand Theatre with Harry Worth, and this last Christmas they were at the Davenport Theatre in Stockport with the Rockin’ Berries.
The act flows with all the polish of a thoroughly professional job of work and the cries of ‘Shame’ from the audience indicate to ‘Cannon and Ball’ that the right blend of pathos and humour is as viable a commodity now as when the late great Charlie Chaplin first offered it.
Opportunity Knocks had an oustanding record for creating stars, and not the least of them was 22-year-old Neil Martin, the last seasons recurring winner.
Educated locally, Neil was an active participant in the school productions: he also gained considerable success in Music Festivals and competitions, meanwhile studying drama, singing and piano. Not suprisingly he achieved an A-Level in music, and despite numerous ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels in other subjects, never seriously considered any career other than Show Business.
Neil is an actor of no mean experience and has appeared in an impressive list of productions including “Godspell” in the West End and two tours, and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat”.
A year ago Neil was auditioned by Keith Johns of the Round House Hotel, Bournemouth, who later became his manager. This, in turn, led to an introduction to Monty Bond of Mecca Agency International, under whose guidance the full potential of Neil’s talent was brought to fruition. He then appeared on Opportunity Knocks and singing “I Write the Songs” he won in the studio with a convincing 95 marks, which was reinforced by an overwhelming public vote.
Immediately followed by a TV appearance, Neil was given a recording contract with EMI working under the august direction of Norman Newell, and his debut single was a romantic love song “Let Me Go”.
Neil has the quiet confidence of someone who has a thorough knowledge and command of his skill. There can be few singers of this calibre today, and international stardom is now assured.
Leah Bell can’t remember a time when she ever wanted to do anything but sing and dance. By the time she was nine she had written, produced and starred in her own pantomime, staged in a Newcastle church hall which broke all standing box office records with ninety-six people all paying tuppence each.
By the time Leah was 17 she had already worked in most of the Cabaret Rooms in Britain and also toured the Continent, and in her first summer season in Jersey she was a tremendous hit.
Her first opportunity of doing professional pantomime came when she played the title role in “Humpty Dumpty” at the Empire Theatre in Sunderland, and it was during the rehearsals for this pantomime that she learned she had been voted “Top Female Vocalist of the Year” by a theatrical newspaper “The Stage”. During the television spectacular that followed she was named recipient of the “Bernard Delfont Silver Rosebowl” for the all round entertainer of the year.
This led to more television appearances and also cabaret and theatre dates with such marvellous artistes as Danny La Rue, Gene Pitney, Bob Monkhouse and the Four Tops.
In the meantime Australian tours had become an annual event for Leah, and in 1976 she had a memorable week with the legendary “Billy Eckstein” at a club in Newcastle, Australia.
In all Leah travels approximately 100,000 miles a year seeing beautiful countries and meeting marvellous people, all a very far cry from that humble start in a Tyneside Church Hall.