Blackpool's bundle of comics were seaside stars who carried the summer shows - including Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, Albert Modley and Bob Monkhouse

The A to Z series of stars who topped the bill in Blackpool began a year ago with Russ Abbot, writes Barry Band.
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We've had many reminders that it was the comedians who carried the summer shows through seasons of about 16 weeks.

Reaching letter M we have a bundle of comics who, between them, clocked up 37 Blackpool seasons.

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First on the scene was Albert Modley (1901-1979) often described as Lancashire's favourite Yorkshireman. Starring at the Central Pier in 1963, he told the Gazette it was his 14th season in the resort.

Eric Morecambe and Ernie WiseEric Morecambe and Ernie Wise
Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise

They began in 1932, working as second comic to Harry Korris in five seasons of the Arcadian Follies at the South Pier. In 1940 Albert returned as chief comic.

In 1947 he succeeded Dave Morris as star of three North Pier seasons of On With the Show.

When the old Palace Theatre switched to summer season shows in 1956, Albert was the first bill-topper.

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He also headlined Central Pier seasons in 1953 and 54 and again in 1962 and 63.

Bob MonkhouseBob Monkhouse
Bob Monkhouse

Dave Morris (1895-1960) mentioned earlier, had a total of 15 Blackpool seasons, seven of which were consecutive summers, from 1940, in Lawrence Wright's On With the Show, at the North Pier.

After a 1947 season at the Opera House, Dave produced and starred in summer seasons at the South Pier from 1948 to 1952.

On the radio, Dave created the sitcom Club Night, which became a summer stage show at the Palace in 1958 and the South Pier in 1959.

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But neither Albert Modley or Dave Morris had the advantage of a developing media to expand their impact, as did Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise.

Albert Modley Albert Modley
Albert Modley

Eric (1926-84) and Ernie (1925-99) were variety artists before radio and television gave them their legendary status.

The duo's first Blackpool summer season was in a supporting spot at the Winter Gardens Pavilion in 1953. But it was Blackpool producer Peter Webster who made them seaside stars with three summers at the Central Pier, 1955, 57 and 59.

Eric and Ernie were Britain's favourite double act by the time they appeared in seasons at the North Pier in 1963 and the ABC in 1965.

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Our fourth star name may be unexpected. Bob Monkhouse (1928-2003) was not your average seaside comic, instead much of his work was centred around TV and radio.

The first of his three Blackpool seasons was at the Winter Gardens Pavilion in 1957, when a Gazette review stated: "To date, most of Bob's work has been on TV and radio but it takes the live theatre to show him for what he is - great!

"He sings, dances, comperes and transmits an immensely likeable personality."

In 1960 Bob was back at the Pavilion with a very different summer show, as the host and compere in a cabaret setting and a dramatic storyline. It was titled Don't Stop, You're Killing Me.

His third Blackpool season was at the Central Pier in 1965 and in the mid-60s was in five televised Blackpool Night shows at the ABC.