Tributes as Roly Polys star Mo Moreland dies at 87

Tributes gave been paid to Mo Moreland, the dancing star who spent a lifetime in showbusiness and toured the world as a member of the star troupe the Roly Polys.

Mo, who was originally from Sheffield but made the Fylde coast her home, died at a nursing home in North Shore after a long illness and long-time friend Tracy Dawson, whose late husband Les inspired a second showniz career for Mo as he devised the Roly Polys described her as “like a mum and a sister – my best friend and confidente”.

"We are devastated,” said Tracy. “Mo lived with my daughter Charlotte and I and helped me bring Charlotte up. She was a great comfort when I lost less and I will really miss her.”

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Comedian Jimmy Cricket, who featured on many a performance bill with Mo and the Roly Polys, said: “Mo was a real pocket rocket – a true star who was also a great friends, who came to my 40th and 50th birthday parties.”

Syd Littlle, who with late comedy partner Eddie Large, featured on many a showbiz bill with Mo and is now a Fleetwood publican, said: “Mo was lovely. We had some great times on stage with her and the Roly Polys. I remember one sketch in which Eddie was ‘Little Mo’ alongside her and the audience loved her. She will be sadly missed.”

Mo, born Maureen McCluskey, first performed on stage at the age of three and attended the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.

At just 4ft 11in tall, she performed as The Mighty Atom and was a skilled dancer, particularly in the tap discipline.

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She first met singer Roy Moreland, to whom she was married from 1959 until Roy’s death in 2001, when they were due to appear on the same bill and they were due to marry until Mo called it off.

When their paths next crossed years later, Mo was engaged to another man but she realised her mistake and they married six days later.

They performed as an act called The Mighty Atom and Roy and were a big hit in in the clubs but never got the chance of a TV break.

Mo appeared solo on TV talent show New Faces in the 1970s and the pair continued to have many more years of success on the cabaret and club circuit.

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It was in 1982 that Mo joined the rotund dance troop The Roly Polys, after her great mate Les Dawson suggested the all singing and dancing act to her.

By herself, she continued to go by the name of The Mighty Atom and it was in both guises that she shot to fame in the 1980s, appearing on TV shows such as Blankety Blank, Bullseye and Game for a Laugh.

Her TV credits also included an appearance in Coronation Street and in 1992 she was the subject of a This Is Your Life tribute presented by Michael Aspel.

Mo was a keen charity champion and while living locally she was president of the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals.

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appeared in Coronation Street in April 1976 as a Fat Lady attempting to purchase clothes in Sylvia's Separates.

In 1979 they were runners-up to Cannon and Ball in the Club Mirror National Club Acts Awards for 1978/79 in the comedy act of the year category. In 1980 they went one better and scooped the top award in the same category alongside other winners who went on to further success, such as Paul Daniels, Faith Brown, Patti Boulaye and Tony Christie.

They used this as a springboard for their act and had a three year run of Summer Season shows at the Central Club in Blackpool.

The Roly Polys enjoyed huge success on the Les Dawson TV show and that saw the end of her act with Roy. He retired from show business to run The Moreland Hotel, Blackpool, which was opened by Les Dawson himself, and in later years ran a taxi company in the resort.

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