Letters - July 11, 2019

‘Crazy idea’ that has served the resort well

Thursday, 11th July 2019, 3:10 pm
Funny Girls

Twenty Five years ago, the impresario Basil Newby took the courageous step to create ‘Funny Girls’ on Queen Street - an intimate burlesque-style cabaret showbar converted from an old shop and tea rooms.

This was a brave move bearing in mind that many gay associated venues back in those days either had blacked-out windows or were boarded up.

The truth of the matter is that even 25 years ago, breweries and banks were less inclined to lend money to gay or alternative business owners.

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It’s also fair to say that back in those less accepting days of equality, the thought of a cast of male dancers dressed as glamorous girls would have been seen by many as a troupe of ‘Funny Blokes’ and a crazy idea.

From the day of the grand opening on 4 July 1994, Funny Girls became a huge success and its novelty factor became the most talked about show in town. Many will recall the crowds queuing up along Queen Street to visit this unique venue.

Whilst the standard of the choreography and music production was high, the show worked extremely well because of its comical ‘send up’ of Hollywood and Broadway musicals. It also had a much needed brash style host and DJ keeping the atmosphere bouncing in-between the performance sets.

With the benefit of hindsight, it was a very risky ploy for Basil Newby to take on the former Odeon Cinema on Dickson Road in 2005. The refurbishment costs alone to convert the huge building into a night club and theatrical showbar was a massive undertaking. Basil Newby like many had believed the Las Vegas-style ‘super casino’ would have come to fruition. The relocation and expansion of ‘Funny Girls’ was very much a part of that ambitious regeneration vision set around 15 years ago.

Every credit to Basil Newby for being the founder of ‘The Funny Girls’ production. His vision of camp theatricality was featured on The Royal Variety Show twice boosting the profile of Blackpool. Despite the financial difficulties his company faced during less prosperous times over the past decade, it must be remembered he kept this much-needed production show going as a year-round tourist attraction in Blackpool for just over 24 years.

Basil Newby was awarded an MBE in the 2014 New Years honours list for his tremendous efforts. His loyalty and investment in Blackpool deserves greater recognition. His ‘In The Pink’ company offered a lot of work to a lot of people for 40 years. I’m sure the legacy of Basil Newby MBE will be remembered in the history books as camp, colourful and courageous.

Stephen Pierre

via email


Means testing

for pensioners

Re TV licences and means testing for pensioners, I would like your readers to consider the following scenario.

The Secretaries of State of the various departments who are responsible for the administration of these ‘handouts’ to pensioners meet with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Each in turn asks if he/she may implement the testing of pensioners prior to awarding these handouts.

Thus the Secretary for Media, Culture and Sport asks if he/she can implement these tests for the over-75s in order to limit the dish out of free TV licences. The Chancellor replies, “By all means!”

Then the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions asks if he/she may implement tests to limit the number of those pensioners who receive the cold winter payments.

The Chancellor replies, “By all means!” ... well, I expect you know the rest!

So there you are readers; that is what is meant by ‘means testing’.

Now, while this may seem a means to an end, i.e. to get a pun in, the reality of such a scenario may be closer to the truth than any of us would imagine.

After all, this present government and indeed all those serving in both Houses have shown just how out of touch they are with the people of this once fine country.

Why would they not continue with this theme?

Pensioners may be old and may be frail but, as anybody with a grandparent knows, you mess with pensioners at your peril.

Many have had more experiences of life than any young upstart of a politician wanting to make a name for him/herself and also these pensioners who, by the way, have seen off more PMs than some MPs have talked to them face to face to find their views.

Yes, as one famous acerbic BBC interviewer (Robin Day) said to one irate politician, many of you MPs are “here today and gone tomorrow politicians”. The latest batch of elections have proved that.

Other countries less wealthier than ours treat their pensioners with much more care, respect and dignity. We may (wish to have) the best health care service in the world but I would question the politicians including the word ‘care’ in that phrase.

After all, not every pensioner has a gold-plated pension as you lot manage to get, so go ahead and shoot yourselves in the collective foot by introducing means-testing. What’s that? You didn’t realise that means-testing also MEANS you?

Just how out of touch are you? Hmm, couldn’t CARE less may come to mind.

Neil Swindlehurst

Address supplied


Boris Johnson’s a vote loser in North

When will the Tories realise that Boris Johnson is a vote loser in the North?

Probably after they have lost the next election when it will be too late.

Henry Cobden

via email