How lovable comedy legend Dora Bryan accidentally hitched a lift to Blackpool’s Imperial Hotel in the back of a police car instead of a taxi

The Beverley Sisters career paralleled that of Max Graves and during his 1953 Blackpool season the Bevs were at the North Pier, writes Barry Band.

By Claire Lark
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Thursday, 12th May 2022, 3:20 pm

The girls were Joy (1929-2015) and twins Teddie and Babs (born 1932, Babs died 2018). They were the most seen and heard sister act in British stage history and were copied by other "sister" groups who weren't actually sisters.

In 1953 the Bevs had just done an American TV show, after their hit disc Ferryboat Inn, and had started a seven-year British series.

Their first Blackpool visit was for a mid-bill spot at the Palace in October, 1950, and they topped the bill there for a week in July, 1954.

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English actress Dora Bryan rehearsing in 1966 (Photo by Douglas Miller/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The trio starred for the 1956 summer season at the Queen's Theatre and for nearly 20 years did resort Sunday concerts retiring in 1974.

Six years later a comeback was inspired by London club owner Peter Stringfellow, who had booked the Bevs' daughters, who sang as the Little Foxes.

The Beverley Sisters were seen in the Grand Theatre's Festival of Fun and Music in 1987 and 89 and in 1997 were in Christmas cabaret at the Norbreck Castle Hotel.

Dora Bryan holds a firm place as one of our most lovable stars; possibly the only dizzy blonde whose career didn't depend on cleavage.

English entertainer, singer and musician Joe Brown, pictured in 1970

And what a career! Musicals, summer seasons, pantomime, sophisticated revue, old English classics, cabaret, TV sitcoms and some good movies, including her British Academy Award as Best Actress for her tarty mother in Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey.

Dora (1923-2014) came to the Grand Theatre in February, 1957, on the pre-London tour of a comedy titled The Lovebirds, and again in March, 1963, as Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, after a West End season.

Between 1967 to 73 she topped eight Sunday concert bills at the Opera House and starred in the 1971 summer show at the Queen's, where the funniest Dora story began. You'll have seen it here before.

Accidentally locked in one night, Dora climbed out of her dressing room window and saw a taxi light at the end of the back alley. She got in the car and on arriving at the Imperial Hotel she asked the driver the fare. He turned and said: "It's free tonight, Miss Bryan. This is a police car." Dora's last Blackpool stage appearance was a week in May, 1982, at the Grand in Noel Coward's Fallen Angels.

The vocal harmony group The Beverley Sisters, Joy, centre, and her sisters, the twins Teddie and Babs. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Now some 20th Century concert names beginning with letter B.

Joe Brown got a head start in a long career with a 1960 season of afternoon shows at the Queen's Theatre with Georgie Fame and others and was packing the Grand with his band in one-nighters until just before the Covid 19 lock down. Kenny Ball's Jazzmen (trad jazz) seemed to fit seamlessly into any show, including 30 Opera House Sunday concerts in the 1970s and Michael Ball was an Opera House concert headliner from 1993, including his two-week Christmas show in 1997.

Victor Borge, the droll Danlsh piano humourist, was here in 1959 and Max Boyce was here too in 1986.

Finally, the ancient history bit. Actor Wilson Barrett was the actor chosen by owner Thomas Sergenson to launch the new Grand Theatre on July 23, 1894, with a performance of Hamlet.