Memory Lane: Stan’s the man for us

Stan Stennett opened the St Wilfred's School, Mereside, annual summer fair in 1961
Stan Stennett opened the St Wilfred's School, Mereside, annual summer fair in 1961

COULD you see many of today’s so-called stars making the same kind of effort as Welsh comic of TV and radio Stan Stennett, who was determined not to disappoint fans of the 1961 North Pier summer show?

The previous day, Stan had flown his own plane from Squires Gate to Bognor Regis for a Sunday concert, but because of thick fog was unable to use the aircraft to return to Blackpool.

After several hours’ delay, he decided to charter a plane that could fly over the minimum height to travel above the fog, arriving for Bernard Delfont’s Showtime literally minutes before the first house was due to start.

During the same summer run, Stan had the holiday audience roaring with laughter as he managed to wisecrack his way through the night, despite believing his 15-month-old son Kerry had fractured his skull. The youngster was being carried downstairs by older brother Roger, 11, who missed his footing and fell. Stan dashed away from a charity football match when Kerry was taken to hospital, but the family decided he should perform on the pier.

The little ‘un was later discharged after treatment for a head injury.

And Stan, who will be 86 later this month, was happy to appear at various fund raising events, including opening a summer fair at St Wilfred’s Junior School, Mereside.

Orphan Stan, a former lorry driver, ended his military days during the Second World War with the “Stars in Battledress” company. On his demob he formed a comedy musical trio, but found fame as a solo comedian playing guitar and trumpet, touring the theatres and becoming a regular voice on BBC radio. His first Blackpool season was at the Hippodrome, joining Ken Dodd and Jill Day, when he soon admitted to The Gazette: “I’m having to slow up, learn the business again. I used to rely on the quick one-line gag, the throw-away and facial expression. But that’s no good here, especially in a theatre the size of the Hippodrome.”

In the early 1960s, Stan joined The Black and White Minstrel Show and was to stay with them as principal comic for seven years, working with the likes of George Chisholm, John Boulter and Leslie Crowther, and helping to win the Golden Rose of Montreaux TV Festival.

It was the stage version of The Black and White Minstrel Show that brought Stan back to Blackpool in 1965 at the Opera House.

Although primarily a comedian, Stan has played straight acting roles in TV soaps. He was Hilda Ogden’s brother in Coronation Street, and has also appeared in Casualty, but is perhaps best known to armchair viewers for his seven-year run as Sid Hooper in ITV’s Crossroads during the 1980s.

Hit www.stan-stennett.com to catch up with Stan’s current activities.