Fri 14th July – Sat 9th September, Scarborough Futurist Theatre.
Tues and Fri at 7:30pm; Weds, Thurs, Sat at 6:10pm and 8:40pm
Also Sundays at Blackpool Opera House
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 Slmillion. Results in ’86 were the same when they played a season at the Bournemouth International Centre. Bookings for their ’86/7 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 show-business 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 Gt 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 out ‘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, engaging 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 horse.
1987 was just as busy as ever for Cannon & 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 & 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 two 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 star guests 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 a summer season in Paignton occupied most of 1988, and Christmas 1988/89 found Tommy and Bobby on home ground, when they took their production of 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 ‘II Do For Me’ which was directed by Brian Rix, and which toured throughout Britain.
Following the summer season, they will record for Yorkshire Television; tour during November and then into pantomime at Birmingham Hippodrome.
The question at large is not “Who is Allan Stewart.”?, but “Who is he going to be next”?.
This gifted comedy impressionist has starred in all of the television series LWT’s The Copycats.
One of Scotland’s biggest stars, Allan has achieved international acclaim. His success includes shows in America, across Europe and he has even entertained abroad cruise-liners, including the QE2.
Allan Stewart 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’. He has been chosen to host ‘Chain Letters’ which will be on network TV from the autumn for a marathon forty weeks. Allan admits that he enjoys life to the full. Initially, Allan relied upon singing to entertain, but gradually the comedy began to creep in. At 18he first began impersonal ing other people – something he found to be a natural talent. Allan’s repertoire now includes many famous characters, plus a few of his own making. Some of his female victims include Esther Rant7en, Hinge and Bracket and Dallas star, Sue Ellen!
Allan describes himself as an entertainer ‘pure and simple’ “I enjoy making people happy”, he says – and he certainly knows how to do that!!!
Born and raised in London’s East End, Linda attended stage school from the age of 3 until 8, appearing in a number of films including A Taste of Honey, A Hard Day’s Night and Look Back In Anger.
At the age of 14, whilst visiting a Club, she joined John Lee Hooker on stage and was seen by record producer Ian Samwell, who encouraged her to develop her singing into a career. She joined Herbie Goins and The Nightimers, then formed a short-lived Band called White Rabbit later replacing Marsha Hunt in Ferris Wheel, before going solo.
Throughout the seventies, Linda developed her career not only as a vibrant stage performer, but also as a recording artist and television personality.
A number of singles achieved massive chart success including Rock-A-Doodle-Doo, It’s In His Kiss, Remember The Days Of The Old Schoolyard and others.
However, it was with a series of varied and well-crafted Albums that Linda demonstrated the full range of her talent not only as a performer but also as writer. On the first three of those albums, Say No More, Lark, and Fathoms Deep, Linda wrote the majority of the material herself with her voice being highlighted by simple musical settings.
In the late seventies, Linda’s Albums became more electric; on Not A Little Girl Any More and Woman Overboard she sang against a wide variety of musical backings – solo, rock band, orchestral – working with producers such as Allan Toussaint, Bert De Couteaux, Cat Stevens and Jim Cregan. Apart from performing her own material, songs were written especially for her by, among others, Cat Stevens, John Martin and Tower Of Power. This series of albums reached its zenith with the much-acclaimed Hacienda View produced by Mike Batt. This led to Linda appearing in concert with a full symphony orchestra at the Drury Lane Theatre.
On the live circuit, she appeared as a solo act and with her own Band – playing in clubs, major concert tours – not only in the U.K. and Europe but also touring the United States twice. In 1975 she undertook a five month world tour with Cat Stevens. She has also played sell-out seasons at London’s top Jazz club Ronnie Scott’s, and guested with such artistes as Elton John and Ritchie Havens.
As a stage performer, she took the female lead in the West End hit musical I Got A Shoe, written by Ned Sherrin and has also been in demand for television advertisements.
As a television performer she has appeared in such shows as In Concert, The Old Grey Whistle Test, Top Of The Pops and as guest with the likes of Ned Sherrin, George Melly, Les Dawson and The Corries. She also hosted the B.B.C.’s Roadshow and presented a series for Yorkshire T.V. with Ned Sherrin titled Song By Song.
In 1980 Linda moved to the West Coast of America and took a two year sojourn prior to releasing a stunning single Why Can’t I Be The Other Woman, taken from the highly critically acclaimed album A Tear And A Smile released in the summer of 1983.
Linda then settled in Denver, Colorado where she intended to retire from the business. Early in 1988 however she began to undertake a series of guest appearances in Denver Jazz Clubs and quickly realised that she in fact was far from ready for retirement.
In January Linda moved back to Britain and made her first live appearances in this country for over six years when she appeared as Special Guest on Gene Pitney’s sell out U.K. Tour. Linda’s instinct to work again was indeed correct with audiences greeting her return with overwhelming warmth and acclaim.
Linda then played a further series of British dates with Gene Pitney during May prior to undertaking her own deadline tour in June.
She is also currently writing new material for a new album and single to be released in the Autumn.
“The Worlds No 1 Escapologist”
Shahid Malik is presently regarded as Britain’s top Magic Act and “the World’s No.l Escapologist”. He holds 2 World Records for Strait-jacket escapes: The Fastest – at 13 seconds and, The Highest – at 1,800 feet, suspended from a Helicopter. His talents as a Magician as well are no less outstanding. In 1985 he was awarded one of British Magic’s highest accolades: “The Magician of the Year 85-86” (awarded by the International Brotherhood of Magicians)
As a result of this, and years of hard work in learning his profession, Shahid’s career has reached heights which are rarely achieved by a Speciality Act. The award led to the most prestigious invitation to appear in a Royal Command performance for Prince Rainer in Monte-Carlo at the luxurious Princess Grace Theatre.
In No. ’87 Shahid Malik became the first Magic Act to appear on Live From The Palladium in the 4 years since the series of “Live from…” began. And, in Nov ’88 Shahid was invited back onto “Live from the Palladium” for the second successive year, and was the only British Magic/Speciality act on the series…amongst 2 other Magic acts – both from Las Vegas.
Proof enough of the quality, style and presentation that makes Shahid Malik today’s top magician.
Shahid was born in Karachi, Pakistan, and has lived in Britain since the age of 4. He became interested in the art of Magic at 13 and whilst still a teenager extended his interest to Escapology, spending hours every day perfecting lightning quick releases from Handcuffs, ropes and chains etc.
Although he completed a 4-year course in Interior Design at the Bradford College of Art, he still decided upon a career as a Magician & Escapologist.
Aiming to be the World’s best at whatever he does, he has more than once put his life in danger whilst performing. In 1975 a more complex version of the great Houdini’s “Water Torture Cell Escape” he was lowered into the tank too quickly and swallowed a lot of water. Though he still managed to escape, he collapsed immediately afterwards.
In the same year, at an outdoor event, he escaped from being chained to a post surrounded by blazing bales of straw. The bales, however, burnt faster than anticipated and in diving through them he received 2nd degree burns and spent 3 weeks in intensive care.
Undeterred he has gone on to prove his skill and dedication to people all over the World, with his Spectacular Outdoor Stunts, and as a Magician in Cabaret, Theatre &Television. To date he has hung from Helicopters higher in the air, and escaped faster than any other escapologist in the World and even attempted stunts that the great Houdini wouldn’t even have dreamt of.
Unlike most other acts, Shahid’s repertoire spans much wider than ‘just one act’. His Magic routines range from a slick, sophisticated Cabaret routine with Candles/Fire/ Smoke etc., to his brilliant award-winning act where fully lit pure crystal Chandeliers + real flame Candelabras appear and vanish into thin air, and bottles of Moet & Chandon champagne appear from nowhere, then instantly changing to crystal Chandeliers.
His Cardboard Box Illusion, which has now become his trade mark, is probably the closest thing to real Magic you’ll ever see – not to mention the spectacular large scale Illusions which he has devised and presented for the ‘Palladium’ TV Show, his own TV Special – All Tied Up on Channel 4, and many other top TV shows.
On the subject of devising, Shahid’s brilliantly inventive mind and talent for devising spectacular illusions has helped add a ‘Magical touch’ to some of this country’s top trade shows and product launches, e.g. Peugeot Talbot, John Player Special, Lancia Cars, Ford etc, etc – For the launch of the new Peugeot 309 at the prestigious Monte Carlo Sporting Club, Shahid changed a girl into a fully grown Lion and then went on to produce a Car (the Peugeot 309) from no-where in the middle of the stage before an audience of 3,000.
The Brian Rogers TV Dancers
Overture – 2001 Space Odyssey
The Brian Rogers TV Dancers
Act 1 finale
Cannon and Ball