‘Breakin’ Out’ by the Brian Rogers Dancers
Dave Wolfe says ‘Hello’
Michael Allport and Jennifer
‘Survive’ by the Brian Rogers Dancers
Cannon and Ball
Started Thursday 10th July 1986, 8pm. Ran to 6th September.
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 series and specials every year, but are also the biggest box-office attraction in the UK – in 1985 along they played to over 600,000 people live through their 10-week Summer Season in Blackpool, their British tour of March and April and further record-breaking shows in Birmingham.
To have outsold not only other comedy acts, but to have outdrawn even rock superstar Bruce Springsteen, is a totally unique achievement which puts them in a cateogry all of their own. At the Opera House in Blackpool last summer their 10-week run broke all box-office records by playing to over 300,000 people and grossing in excess of �1 million. Their 1985/6 Christmas panto, Babes in the Wood – their first for 5 years – at the Bristol Hippodrome put them into even more record books with takings in excess of �700,000.
This summer is the turn of Bournemouth where Cannon and Ball will present their unique spectacular at the Bournemouth International Centre from July 10 th September 6 – and it’s a racing certainty that those record books will have to be re-written all over again.
Their 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 recording artists with both singles and albums; starred in their own feature film The Boys In Blue; and have also been named Showbusiness Personalities by the Variety Club of Great Britain – the highest accolade presented by their fellow professionals.
So what is the secret of this unequalled success which has also included Royal Shows, a memorable This Is Your Life, and a top-rated Christmas TV spectacular? Tommy and Bobby don’t go in for self-analysis. Thier present day success has evolved from an initial friendship between two Oldham lads who got together to form a singing act. And it is their genuine friendship and respect for each other that is the very backbone of the Cannon and Ball story.
Robert Harper is the real name of Bobby Ball, and he and Tommy Derbyshire (now Tommy Cannon) were former workmates in a Lancashire engineering factory in the early 1960’s. By day they were welders – but by night they became a singing duo called The Harper Brothers and 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 ans act as the perfect foil. Singing remained in 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, “And many were the times that we were reprimanded by the foreman. Then, out of the blue, Bobby’s cousin Wally Harper, a professional comic, booked us for a week at a club in Wales. It was our first appearance outside Lancashire and the response was terrific. After that we decided to give up our daytime jobs and concentrate on showbusiness.”
Their professional career now spans 20 years, but it is only in the last 16 years that they have been known as Cannon and Ball. And the name has made all the difference to their lives.
“We were getting nowhere as the Harper Brothers” says Bobby. “So one day we sat down in a dreary cafe with our manager and began slinging names at each other. I can’t remember who came up with Cannon and Ball, but we decided that those names fitted us perfectly.”
This choice of name couldn’t have been more appropriate, because their success has come from the firepower of Tommy Cannon and the sheer comedy ammunition of Bobby Ball.
And so Cannon and Ball began the hard slog to gain recognition. They built up their popularity on the club circuit and in 1975 were voted Best Comedy Duo by readers of a leading magazine. In turn that award led to their first TV booking – for the Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club. They also appeared on Opportunity Knocks and managed to come only second to last in the voting.
Since then the rest is pure showbusiness history – their series and specials are always in the top TV ratings, they have played to capacity audiences not just in the UK but in Australia and the Middle East and their unique approach to comedy grows in stature with rach new venture.
The over-riding factor during all their years together has been their unique friendship. They don’t try to kid anyone that they never argue. But their friendship – both on and off stage – is there for all to see.
“We have no pretensions” says Tommy. “We’re a couple of ordinary fellas enjoying what we do best of all – entertaining folk and making them laugh. I suppose it took a long time initially for us to make a major breakthrough, but we’re now glad that we have so much experience behind us. Our TV shows have made an enormous difference. Suddenly we are known by millions, and at times still find it hard to come to terms with being recognised in the street. We’re not knocking it – we love it. The important thing to us as people is that we haven’t changed in out attitudes. We’re still Tommy and Bobby to everyone, and still get a kick every time someone shouts ‘Rock on, Tommy’ in the street”.
Both are happily married and still live close to each other in their native Lancashire. Tommy is married to Margaret and they have two daughters, Janette and Julie and two grandsons, Ben Thomas and Alex. Bobby’s wife is Yvonne and they have a daughter, Joanna, who is 14. Bobby still retains close links with his two sons Darren amd Robert, from his first marriage.
In their increasingly rare off-stage moments both Tommy and Bobby like to keep fit, and while Bobby prefers to either sit in solitude on a river-bank fishing or in his club called ‘Braces’ in Rochdale, Tommy divides his time between golf and his passion for football – he is now a working director of Rochdale FC.
And the future? In the words of both a United States President and a classic rock song – You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.
Since they first appeared on the pop scene in the early seventies, The Nolans have gone from strength to strength, and today, are recognised as the leading girl vocal group in the UK and arguably one of the best in the world.
Four sisters, Anne, Maureen, Bernadette and Coleen combine talent, charm and a professional presentation, which has made them a household name, not only in the UK, but throughout the world.
One of the highlights of their remarkable career was undoubtedly their European Tour with Frank Sinatra. They have appeared in International cabaret, in countries as far apart as Japan, Holland, America and have just returned from a five week tour in Australia. In September this year, they are off for an extensive tour of Russia.
Due to their very hectic schedule, they have not had time to appear in a Summer Season show since 1980 (Blackpool Opera House), and are delighted to join the Cannon and Ball Show at Bournemouth this Summer. We feel sure that you will enjoy their music.
Manchester-born comedian Dave Wolfe was, by modern standards, a late developer in the entertainment stakes. He had reached the grand old age of 21 before he even thought about pursuing a career in showbusiness.
As a blue Coat for Pontins holiday Camps he gained his first real experience as an entertainer and in 1977 became a professional comedian.
He made his TV debut in December 1979 on London Weekend’s Search for a Star and went on to win the Final, beginning 1980 with his own TV special.
Since then he has worked extensively in TV, cabaret and theatre and has developed into one of this country’s finest young stand-up comedians.
Michael Allport and Jennifer
Europes Top Illusinists Dove Act: Credit’s speak for themselves, with seasons at the London Palladium, Dunes Hotel – Las Vegas, Moulin Rouge – Paris and every major Night-Club, Casino, Hotel and Theatre internationally. World’s longest established dove act – appearances in 46 countries – over 150 TV shows world-wide – the only British act to have played a season on Broadway, New York, during the last three decades. Over 100 cruises as P and O’s most popular magical entertainers, their vast repertoire of incredible illusions, lavish costumes, exciting presentation and hilarious comedy, confirm them “No. 1 for cruising”.
Illusion Show: To contrast their world-famous dove act, the couple perform a stylish and spectacular, highly original illusion act, unequalled for breathtaking excitement, which can be performed surrounded in dinner-show restaurant-theatres, circus, ballrooms, theme-parks, large venues as well as night-clubs and cruise ships. The unique style and delightful personalities of these artistes keep them foremost in their profession. Quite simply – the greatest due illusion act in the world.
“Michale Allport and Jennifer, whose beautifully dressed illusion act is subtle, sophisticated, and put over with dazzling speed and panache…” Sidney Vauncez – Stage and Television Today.