Wossy weckons we’re the best in the world – and he’s not alone.
Britain’s best known seaside resort has no shortage of super fans – and the list goes back a surprisingly long time.
The big daddy of psychology, Sigmund Freud, loved Blackpool so much when he came here at 19 in 1875 he used the “bliss of paddling on Blackpool’s beach” within his landmark 1900 work The Interpretation of Dreams.
Sigmund wrote of the seaside syndrome: “One feels oneself like a hero who has performed deeds of improbable greatness.”
Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde may have been more lukewarm – Dickens was out of sorts at the Imperial and Oscar’s interior design talk had been given a rough ride at the Bosley Grill – but enthusiasts include novelists Kingsley Amis and Edgar Wallace and poet Roy Fuller.
Blackpool’s latest super fan – chat show king Jonathan Ross – is just the latest in a long list of celebrities to fall under the resort’s spell.
Elton John, Robbie Williams, Michael Buble, David Hasselhoff, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, all rave about the place. Judith Chalmers has a soft spot for Blackpool too.
Buble used to bring his girlfriend here for a “romantic” chippy supper. Robbie, hooked since childhood, couldn’t think of a “better place” to bring his bride after being invited to switch on the Lights.
Hasselhoff was bowled over by the “warmth” of the visitors and locals.
Chatty man Alan Carr dubbed it “the Las Vegas of the North.” Retiring Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams enjoyed his visit – and declared the fish and chips at Marton’s Cottage chippy “world class”.
As seaside resorts go, Blackpool is the saucy siren of them all when seen in the right light. Or Lights.
Blackpool’s the Marmite of resorts – everyone has an opinion. But Wossy’s tweet “we are in Blackpool for Easter (supporting the economy)” meant 1.9 million Twitterati got the message through the immediacy of social networking. It’s faster and cheaper than sending a first-class postcard.
Jonathan also enthused of South Shore Indian restaurant Blue Diamond. “Just had best Indian meal ever! Awesome food, great service.”
The Osmonds added to the early season boost to Blackpool’s fortunes by owning up to having “the greatest time” here. “We’ve been driving round town taking pictures,” said Jimmy.
You can’t buy publicity like that. It’s a viral “wish you were”, one that spreads like wildfire online, re-read, retweeted.
It all adds up to a 100 per cent buckshee Blackpool marketing bonanza giftwrapped for the holiday season at no cost to MarketingBlackpool’s budget or, by association, our council tax.
Thank you Mr Ross, we love you too.
Blackpool was talked down for the super casino – soul and social deprivation laid bare for booted suited casino advisory panellists to study and discard. The old political conferences meant visiting media got off on their annual bloodsport – baiting Blackpool. When the resort tentatively applied for world heritage site listing many crowed in derision – who was Blackpool kidding?
Those days have gone says Heather Morrow, head of heritage for Blackpool Council. “What’s been achieved here has forced many to eat their words.
“Blackpool’s on the up.”
National civic champion and comedian Griff Rhys Jones agrees. “Blackpool’s got real heart.”
Leading social historian Morecambe-born Professor Vanessa Toulmin, on with her fourth Blackpool book, says: “Blackpool’s the greatest. It just needs self belief.”
Champions include designer Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, who became creative director of the Illuminations in 2007. “What you see is what you get with Blackpool but the secret rests in learning to really see what you’ve got there.” Laurence revels in the fact his daughters return to their “snotty boarding schools” talking about how much they enjoyed Blackpool while their pals jet in back from St Moritz or the Seychelles.
“Given a choice between Bali or Blackpool, I’d pick Blackpool every time, seriously,” adds Laurence.
A similar endorsement comes from rugby star Leon Pryce who has remarked: “I’d rather be on Blackpool beach than Bondi beach.”
Paul O’Grady turned away from more lucrative TV deals to play North Pier for a season to fulfil an ambition and “repay my debt to Blackpool.” He started out here on the drag club fringe circuit.
Comedian Michael McIntyre loves the “surreality” of Blackpool. Ken Dodd calls it the “laughter capital of the country”.
Jimmy Carr makes a point of playing the town at least once a year because he loves it here. TV presenter (and former Strictly Come Dancing star) John Sergeant appreciates the “seamless social history”.
For some it’s the football which hits the target. Tennis ace Andy Murray had beaten Roger Federer to win the Shanghai Masters when he tweeted: “Watching Blackpool play. Loving what Ian Holloway has done.”
In 1934 there wasn’t the internet, let alone Twitter, when one of Blackpool’s best-known super fans made the town her own. Gracie Fields’ most successful film Sing As We Go was shot here at the height of her fame and Our Gracie returned in triumph to a town which had given her an early break – as she trod the boards here as a teenager.
Blackpool, said Gracie, was like her, working class and full of fun. It was “one of us”. What Gracie said went for others. Then, as now, in a time of hardship people flocked to the resort and Blackpool lapped it up.
Fast forward 78 years and it’s the same old song but with different words from Wossie.