A plan has been hatched to bring household names back to Blackpool’s North Pier.
Resort compere and manager Tony Jo is returning to the historic venue in the new year to lead the famous boardwalk’s entertainment offer.
And he says he wants to attract leading comedy stars to the resort.
Bosses today said the move was their “last hope” of keeping the pier’s embattled theatre in its current guise.
Although dates are yet to be confirmed, Tony is in talks with managers and is confident top TV comedians will be among the headline stars at the 1,400-plus seater North Pier Theatre in 2015.
A Monday night comedy show will also be a charity night, as cancer survivor Tony plans to raise £250,000 to build a bowel cancer unit at Blackpool’s Victoria Hospital.
Also on the new bill will be a weekend double header from Joe Longthorne, That’s Entertainment and Dancing Queen production shows, as well as the old-school Comedians.
Tony, who runs HRH Entertainments, said: “I was last at North Pier Theatre four years ago and it was successful.
“The Sedgewick family approached me. We reached an agreement not just for the theatre, but also we want to redevelop and tidy up the pier and get the public back down there.
“We are all at the same end – the Sedgewick family, the management and I want it fixed – the pier and the shows.”
North Pier Theatre holds an iconic status in Blackpool and the entertainment industry, having hosted many of the greats over the years.
And Tony is determined to return the venue to its glory days.
He added: “The pier will be packed next year. I got five to 6,000 people in a week for 20 weeks when I was last at the pier – and that’s what I will do again.”
Pier owner Peter Sedgewick said the deal with HRH Entertainments was a last chance saloon for North Pier Theatre – Blackpool’s second biggest theatre.
Last December, the pier suffered massive damage in storms which Mr Sedgewick said had put his refurbishment plans back by two years.
“The theatre is one of those businesses,” he said. “It has lost money over the recent years and it is expensive to run.
“If this doesn’t work, we will have to look at something else.
“We are looking forward to working with Tony Jo. He is at the top of his game in fetching and promoting shows.
“For me, Tony Jo is our last hope of keeping the theatre as we have it now.”
n See tomorrow’s Gazette for more on the new entertainments plan for North Pier Theatre and the future of the venue.
n OPINION – PAGE 10