The Dream Girls
Introducing Mike Doyle
The Dream Girls
The Sounds of The Platters
Cannon and Ball
Finale – The Cast Bid You Farewell
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 £ 1 million. Results in 86 were the same when they played a season at the Bournemouth International Centre. Bookings for their 86/87 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 &. 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 7Tws 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 becam 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 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 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 8. Ball. Following the finish of their pantomime in Bradford at the end of February, Tomm 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 Guiness Book of Records had to be rewritten yet again when Cannon &. Ball took their pantomime Babes in the Wood for the 1987/88 Christmas Season to the most breathtaking famous variety theatre in the world – The London Palladium. During its breathtaking £2million 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 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 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 &. Ball starred in the new 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 the summer season they recorded for Yorkshire Television and 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 at the Britannia Pier in Gt 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 91 and then go into a 25-week summer North Pier season in Blackpool where they will be celebrating their 25th Anniversary in Showbusiness – one week for every year together – which began in May and runs until November.
In December 1990 Mike Doyle was named Stage Comedy Newcomer at the British Comedy Awards televised by LWT, thus giving proof to the rapid emergence of Mike Doyle as one of the bright new stars of British showbusiness.
A dynamic, young comedian-entertainer with a relaxed and distinctive style of his own, who made so much impact on the 1988 series of Opportunity Knocks, the BBC backed their judgement and faith in him by signing him to star in their Saturday evening comedy series, Something For The Weekend. Indeed, this series was so successful that it was recently repeated.
Since Mike’s success in Opportunity Knocks his career has moved forward in leaps and bounds. His television appearances include: Summertime Special, The Children’s Royal Variety Show a special return guest appearance on the 1989 series of Opportunity Knocks, and more recently he was invited to guest on The Des O’Connor Show.
He made his pantomime debut in 1988/89 alongside Neighbours stars Elaine Smith and Peter O’ Brien in Mother Goose at the Davenport Theatre, Stockport. In the Summer of 1990 he was Danny La Rue’s special guest star in his Summer Season in Blackpool. Blackpool welcomes Mike back again this Summer when he helps to celebrate Cannon & Ball’s 25 years in showbusiness at the North Pier. This will be immediately followed by pantomime, when he co-stars in Aladdin at the New Theatre, Cardiff.
Mike was born in the Welsh town of Carmerthen in Dyfed and started singing at school in the choir. Coming from Wales, there were plenty of opportunities to sing in local concerts and music festivals. At 14, however, he formed his own pop group called Moonshine – singing and playing guitar- and set about performing at neighbourhood youth clubs and dances.
“During the summer holidays, we went up to the North East of England, which has always been a thriving entertainment centre, and spent our time appearing in working men’s clubs and social clubs. It was a marvellous experience for such a young band,” he says.
Mike left school at 16, and joined a professional showgroup.
“During the summer season, we had a lenghty residency at the Hollymarine Holiday Centre in the West Wales resort of Newquay, where we became a band-of-all-trades, entertaining holidaymakers, playing for dancing and backing other cabaret performers. It was a very good grounding in the business for me,” he adds. “At the end of each season, we toured the country working the clubs.”
Three years later, he decided to quit the band and break out on his own solo singing career, and landed a six-month engagement on board the luxury P &. O Cruise liner, Oriana, entertaining passengers.
“It was one of the hardest jobs I have ever had in my life,” says Mike. “I was working all the time; appearing in all the major on-board musical revues and productions, and entertaining in cabaret.”
“It was during this time that I first started to introduce comedy patter into my act which just grew from there, and at the end of my contract I decided to try and establish myself as a singer-comedian at home.”
For the next three years Mike worked extensively all over Britain, slowly building a new career for himself, and all the time adding more and more comedy into his repertoire.
Next came British tours with Gloria Gaynor, The Stylistics and The Shadows, and a hectic round of major concert and cabaret seasons. For the 1987 Summer Season, he headlined his own show at The Pavilion, Porthcawt.
It was during a cabaret engagement at The Talk of London that Mike was seen and given an opportunity to appear on Opportunity Knocks from where his television career really began. The most exciting project for Mikeatthe moment is his own television series for HTV which is currently in preparation.
In recent years in Wales, traditionally the land of song, has produced some fine comedy entertainers, including Harry Secombe and Max Boyce………..and it will not too long before Mike Doyle joins the elite company.
The Sounds of The Platters
The original Platters had an unbelievable forty golden hits!
This line-up who have been together for nine years now have appeared on television with Cannon and Ball, and Jasper Carott two years ago. They recently performed out in the Far and Middle East. Martine Girault, William Lessenberry and Miles Caine sung with Herb Reed of the original Platters and went on to continue The Platters tradition with their hits such as
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
This truly great American act will continue singing these great golden hits for many years to come.
Pete started his entertaining career at 14 years old around Bournemouth. He disrupted many lessons at Queen Elizabeth School in Wimbourne with his antics during class, his teachers still invite him back however! He intended to be a commercial artist after he achieved a grade A in his art exam but realised he much prefers to make people laugh.
Pete’s act started as a clown which included slapstick and face paint, he went under the name of Pepe but soon decided to pursue his career as ‘himself. Pete loves to make people happy and has entertained at many local pubs, clubs, parties, charity shows, hotels and carnivals. In the summer of 1989 he could be seen busking around the busy seafront of Bournemouth and earned a great deal of money for charity. He is self taught and a master pf juggling, uni-cyding, plate-spinning, comedy, magic, stilt-walking, roller-skating, gymnastics, trampolining, yo yo, diablo, tight-rope walking, fire-eating and break-dancing. He was the youngest person to perform on the West Piazza at Covent Garden at 15 years old. He has won many talent contests one of which led him to perform at a Royal Variety Youth Showcase attended by HRH Prince Edward. He has performed with Cannon &. Ball in a charity show, and has done television shows for HTV Wales and TVS. Pete used to run his own juggling workshop in his hometown of Wimbourne where he still lives with his parents and brothers and sisters. He used the workshop not only to teach others but to improve his own skills enough to make his love of entertaining his career. His act is comedy blended with uni-cycling, juggling and diablo – it is always ad lib and one never quite knows what to expect but one thing you can always be sure of – the most important thing to Pete is: Leave ’em laughing.