Brian Rogers dancers perform ‘Shakedown’
Brian Rogers dancers perform ‘Lay back and be cool’
Allan Stewart and the Brian Rogers dancers perform ‘Jammin’
The Three Degrees
The Mike Ryal Orchestra
Cannon and Ball
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.
Cannon and Ball’s star status is further enhanced by the fact that they are the only act in showbusiness to have won three separate National Club Awards; they have enjoyed success as recording 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 work mates 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 when 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 day time 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 out ‘Rock On Tommy’ in the street.”
Tommy and Bobby are both happily married and live close to each other m their native Lancashire. Tommy is married to Margaret and they have two daughters, Jannette and Julie, and three grandsons, Ben Thomas, Alex and Matthew.
Bobby’s wife is Yvonne, and they have a daughter Joanne. Bobby still retains close links with his sons Darren and Robert from his first marriage.
In their increasingly rare off-stage moments, both Bobby and Tommy like to keep fit, whilst Bobby also enjoys the solitude of the river bank, engaging in his favourite pastime, fishing. Tommy prefers to divide his time between playing golf, following football, and his racehorse.
The Three Degrees
When the name THE THREE DEGREES is mentioned, immediately their most famous song “When Will I See You Again”, comes to mind. True, this international hit was number 1 in England, Japan and the U.S. and after 12 years is still heard frequently on the radio and in clubs. That alone would be, and is, enough for many other pop groups But there’s much more to this three woman trio than that.
Helen Scott-Leggins, Valerie Holiday-Tyler and Rea Harris, comprise the members of the enthusiastic, stage-happy, eager to be seen THREE DEGREES. Helen and Valerie who are charter members of the group since its inception in 1966, met as aspiring teenage singers, and in 1967 embarked on their first of many national tours. Everywhere they played there was a packed house waiting. Pretty impressive considering that during this time there was such a ‘surplus’ of black female groups, many came and went went even before their reviews were printed As Valerie says, “There were so many groups around who had no stage sense to speak of. We wanted the people to go away from a THREE DEGREES concert feeling that they had their money’s worth.”
Screen success came for the girls with the movie. “The French Connection”. The cabaret scene with the girls’ rendition of “Ev’rybody Gets To Go To The Moon” edited and intercut with the dialogue and main plot of the story drew much attention along with the famous end of movie credits show “THE THREE DEGREES’ as THE THREE DEGREES”.
In 1974, the single “When Will I See You Again” was released on Epic/CBS Records in Europe and instantly became a ‘super-smash’ in Europe, Japan and the U.S. Seeing this, the girls picked up on their cue and hopped a plane to England to promote themselves “We were happy in the U.S. doing our thing – you know the big clubs and commercial stuff. But when we saw the fuss the cut was making over there, we knew this was our big in,” Helen remembers.
But perhaps the biggest thrill of all for THE THREE DEGREES is that they are Prince Charles’ favourite music group. The Prince has loved their music since the girls invaded the continent. In addition to being the Princes’ favourite, THE THREE DEGREES have performed for every member of the Royal Family. They must be wetl received at the Palace, as the girls were in the few people from the U.S. (including the President and Nancy Reagan) to be invited to Charles and Diana’s wedding. As Valerie puts it, “That was the biggest thrill of my life. Actually being at the Royal wedding.”
“Almost as thrilling,” Helen says, “is that we were asked, and of course did, perform at Prince Charles’ 30th birthday party.”
The girls don’t try to just ‘get away’ with all the ‘extras’ They pound out with the same ferocity as ever the hits that have put them where they are today. All the favourites; “Dirty Old Man”, “When Will I See You Again”, “My Simple Heart’, “Year of Decision”, “Woman In Love”, and the newest ‘The Heaven I Need”, and “Body Groove”.
“Most always, we exceed the limit. We really really enjoy the time on stage and don’t like to leave, especially when we have an audience that’s singing and enjoying themselves right along with us.”
How evident this is. Once during a performance before the Royal family, they were allotted 26 minutes. “It seemed like nothing,” remarked Helen. “At the end, the audience was so enthusiastic the Queen Mother herself signaled that it was OK to stay on stage. Just great Stuff.”
How does Rea the newest ‘Degree’ feel? “When Sheila Ferguson left and I was asked to take her place, I was nerve struck. Totally excited.”
Maybe THE THREE DEGREES original members Valerie and Helen have been so effective in their careers together because they’re so alike off-stage too. “You really have to like a person to be able to work with them 24 hours a day, months on end, and still spend spare time with then when not touring” they both admit. Both have children, lead quiet personal lives, and like to cook and eat. “When we’re in a country for an extended stay, we get an apartment so we can do our own cooking.
The question at large is not “Who is ALLAN STEWART?” but “Who is he going to be next?”
Allan has starred at the London Palladium, appeared in Royal Shows and his string of TV successes include a top spot on ITV’s variety show “Live From Her Majesty’s”.
Often described as Scotland’s most eligible bachelor, Allan admits that he enjoys life to the full. He lives in a luxury apartment outside Glasgow and drives a customised Mercedes.
Initially, Allan relied upon singing to entertain, but gradually the comedy began to creep in.
At 18 he first began impersonating other people – something he found to be a natural talent. Allan’s repertoire now includes many famous characters, and his portrayal of Sue Ellen has become a classic. Some of his other victims include Esther Rantzen, Hinge and Bracket, Supergran and, together with Aiden J. Harvey, as ‘Saint and Greavsie’.
Quote from ‘The Stage’: “Silence Splender – once in a decade a speciality act like DONIMO comes along and captures attention and admiration of both public and professional alike.”
He is without a doubt a star in the making. He acts, features any one of a dozen skills which includes comedy mime, magic, acrobatics, juggling and trick cycling all blended to produce an act which is unequal on any stage today.
In his early days Don was heavily influenced by such all-time greats as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy and he has coupled mime together with his marvellous acrobatic skills to produce an act which is currently being acclaimed throughout showbusiness.
We hope you enjoy the act and look foward to seeing you in the future.
Brian Rogers has worked as a dancer and choreographer almost exclusively on television. He was a member of the Young Generation dancers appearing in many of the BBC Saturday Night series such as the ROLF HARRIS and LULU shows. He appeared in the ATV Specials for American television starring Julie Andrews, Glen Cambell and Ann Margaret.
Brian Rogers’ Dancers appear regularly on 3-2-1. The LAUGHTER SHOW and the spectacular LIVE FROM series at Her Majesty’s Theatre, the Piccadilly Theatre and the Palladium Theatre.
In 1987 he directed and choreographed the CANNON & BALL SHOW at the Opera House, Blackpool, completed another series of LIVE FROM THE PALLADIUM and directed and choreographed a revue spectacular for the centenary celebrations of the Carre Theatre, Amsterdam.
During 1988 he has choreographed and staged the WEDNESDAY AT EIGHT series from the Victoria Palace Theatre and the CHILDREN’S ROYAL VARIETY SHOW.