|A double barrel of comedy
21 Dec: Christmas Cannon and Ball blasts off the holiday season on ITV. Bobby and Tommy, left, are aided in this festive special by Paul Nicholas, who joins them to sing and dance in a rock and roll medley. See page 6.
Funnymen who fire on both cylinders
For an act which once failed to make the clapometer move on the ITV talent show Opportunity Knocks!, Cannon and Ball have come a long, long way. Earlier this year, they became the first British variety performers to gross £1 million in takings from a summer season, after their hugely successful run at Blackpool’s Opera House theatre. Last year, it was estimated that more than 500,00 people watched the Lancashire double act up and down the country.
When you consider the duo’s humbler beginnings, their rise to fame has been meteoric by anyone’s standards. Tommy Cannon (real name Thomas Derbyshire) and Bobby Ball (Robert Harper) once formed a singing act called The Harper Brothers, who trudged around the northern clubs by night, scraping together a living to supplement their wages as factory welders. It was a hard grind.
But times change. You can see for yourself just how entertaining this immensely successful double-act has become in Christmas Cannon and Ball (Saturday 21st December, ITV).
Cannon and Balls own Christmas promises to be as action-packed as the rest of their year. Apart from the TV show, they are in Bristol, starring at the Hippodrome in Babes in the Wood which runs until February.
They went straight into rehersals for the pantomime after returning from an intensive tour of the Middle East. Have they had any breaks from work? Well, Tommy has fitted in the occasional round of golf, while Bobby has made a few appearances at his own club in Rochdale, called Braces. ‘But,’ gasps Ball, ‘I’ve never known a year like it. Talk about hectic.’
He adds: ‘To be honest, the fuss that is sometimes made when we’re playing the theatres scares me. It’s like the Beatles. It’s very nice, but it takes some getting used to.’
Tommy Cannon adds: ‘I can never wait to be working. That feeling when you’ve got an audience dangling from the end of your fingertips – there’s nothing like it. We usually have a holiday early on in the New Year, but at the end of three weeks we’re both itching to get back to work.’
Look out in 1986 for a new Cannon and Ball series on ITV when the plan is to introduce longer sketches into their shows.
Christmas Cannon and Ball
Oracle subtitles page 888
Tommy Cannon and Bobby Ball star in their own Christmas Special. The duo dance their way through a hoe-down with hilarious results, join Paul Nicholas in a rock-and-roll medley and enrol guest Ruth Madoc in the Thomas Cannon Repertory Company. Children from the Pestalozzi Village from Sussex join Cannon and Ball for the carol Silent Night. Writer Sid Green.