Tommy Cooper was a mad magician and a clown of genius and topped the Blackpool bill year after year

It's C for Comedy in this week's A to Z piece on those who topped the bill in Blackpool's 20th Century of Stars, writes Barry Band.

By Claire Lark
Saturday, 25th June 2022, 4:55 am

Of the stars with a surname starting with C, Tommy Cooper (1921-84) has first spot. Just like that! A Gazette reviewer wrote of his act in the 1957 summer show at the North Pier: "The mad magician is a clown of genius ... blessed with a supremely funny face."

Biographer John Fisher noted that Tommy did only ten summer seasons in UK resorts and four were in Blackpool.

He was at the old Queen's Theatre in the season shows of 1962 and 65 and was "sole top" at the Winter Gardens Pavilion in 1968.

Tommy Cooper

Cooperman's first Blackpool stage visit was for a week at Feldman's (later the Queen's) in July, 1949.

Roy Castle is remembered as a presenter and trumpeter but comedy was always there.

The Yorkshire lad (1932-94) who grew up in Cleveleys got his break as a stooge for comedy great Jimmy James in the late 1950s before being joint top with singer Marion Ryan in the 1959 summer show at Blackpool's Palace Theatre.

Television fame with Record Breakers came before his 1969 season at the ABC Theatre with Cilla Black.

Roy Castle

Let's remember Norman Collier (1925-2013) whose first Blackpool season was on the bill with Cliff Richard and the Shadows for the launch of the ABC in 1963.

Norman, born in Hull, had come up through Northern clubland and arrived "big time" by being voted best comedian in 1962's Clubland Command Performance at the Empress Ballroom, Blackpool.

He went on to convulse us with his burlesque of an ignorant club chairman coping with a faulty microphone and his hilarious impersonation of a chicken.

His second Blackpool summer season was 1977's All Laughter Showtime at the North Pier with Frank Carson and Little and Large. The same three acts returned in All Laughter Spectacular at the Opera House in 1979.

Norman also starred in later seasons at the resort's three piers; the Central in 1984, the South in 87 and 94, and the North in 89.

Still with us is Johnny Casson, another Yorkie who became a Blackpool clubland favourite after winning the Butlin's Star search at the London Palladium, in 1984.

He did two seasons at Maggie May's on the Central Pier before his matter-of-fact daftness on the Des O'Connor TV show propelled him to Blackpool stardom with a spring season of The Big Laughter Show at the North Pier in 1998.

He was one of the stars of Comedy Bonanza, the Grand Theatre's summer show in 1999.

From Northern Ireland came Jimmy Cricket, the comic with wellie boots marked L and R (just in case) and the catchphrase: "And there's more."

He did seasons at the South Pier in 1989 and 91, and the Grand Theatre in 2000.

But there's more! Jimmy has six one-nighters at Blackpool's Lyndene Hotel, starting on July 5.

Next week we look at George Cole and Andrew Cruickshank.

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