Memory Lane: Star-spangled web they weaved

Cinderella at the Grand Theatre Blackpool in 1982
Cinderella at the Grand Theatre Blackpool in 1982
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A CAST of thousands – well not quite – but one of the cast of the 1982 Grand Theatre panto Cinderella did have her leg in a plaster cast when the Gazette caught up with them for a July preview photocall that year.

The injured entertainer was Blackpool singer Julie Owen, who played the fairy, and also in the picture is the panto’s mastermind, Freddie Davies. But today it seems a good time to focus on firm Blackpool favourites the Houghton Weavers, who are back in the resort from next week for their North Pier summer run of Monday shows. Founder members David Littler and Tony Berry remain from the 1982 line-up, joined since 1996 by Steve Millington.

Formed in 1975, the lads – motto Keep Folk Smiling – made their TV debut in BBC’s talent show We’ll Call You. So successful were they that, within a couple of months, they were given their own show, Sit Thi Deawn, which continued for six series over seven years, and had the highest viewing figures for any regional TV programme.

As well as their own show, the Weavers have appeared on many other national TV programmes, including Jim’ll Fix It, This Is Your Life and The Video Entertainers. Six series on Radio 2 led the Weavers to appear with the likes of Cannon and Ball, Ken Dodd, Rick Wakeman, Mike Harding, Billy Connolly, Phil Cool, Jasper Carrott, Norman Wisdom, Mick Miller and Stan Boardman amongst many others.

They have starred in six pantomimes at top theatres in the North West, five of them as top of the bill.

An album deal with EMI found the Weavers recording at the famous Abbey Road Studios, and now over 24 albums bear their name, many of which have been re-released and are still major sellers. Their perennial favourite, The Blackpool Belle, was actually a number one hit in Tasmania, and number three in New Zealand.

Their fan club boasts more than 2,000 members, ranging in age from three months to 100 years, and stretches as far afield as the USA, Canada, Bahrain, Belgium, Australia and Germany.

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