MEMOIRS

I thought I’d write down as many things as I could remember about the various TV, film, radio, theatre, and music I’ve done – before I forget!

My first recollection of acting was during a school production of “Macbeth.” I was playing the porter, a rather coarse character, and when I realized I could actually belch as loudly as I wanted in front of the headmaster and other teachers – I did! About that same time I got interested in folk clubs. Initially, it was because of the close proximity of the performer. Where else can you ask about chords and finger styles when the performer is right in front of you? A schoolfriend, Dave Brooks, and I learnt guitar together, more or less teaching each other. We became resident at Bury folk club but had to stop in…

1968

CROMPTON’S MULE – Robin Pemberton-Billing asked us to supply and perform the musical content in this, the Octagon Theatre’s first documentary. Here’s a sample of Dave, me and Jane Wood from the cast singing “3 Apprentice Weavers”: 3 Apprentice Weavers

NICE TIME – This was our first TV appearance. It was on Granada and hosted by Kenny Everett and Germaine Greer. They advertised for anyone who could play tunes on their teeth. Dave and I, along with eight others, played “Sailor’s Hornpipe” on teeth and head.


DAVE & BERNARD at the railroad track, 1966.

1969

BOLTON MASSACRE – Dave and I had returned to the Octagon and turned professional to do this, the theatre’s second documentary, all about the civil war in Lancashire.


DAVE & BERNARD on the roof of the Octagon during the “Bolton Massacre” run.



HOME RECORDINGS - We loved doing recordings! The equipment was usually ropey, but by the time we did this one I’d got a B&O 2000 tape recorder. Reels at 7 ½ IPS!
Listen to Dave & Bernard sing “Gower Wassail”

GRANADA ROADSHOW – This was the first incarnation of a programme with this name. We sang in two episodes. One was filmed on a pier at Blackpool when we sang a sea song, and I had a stuffed parrot on my shoulder. The second episode was filmed in Kirby Lonsdale where we were dressed as country yokels to sing a version of “Bridgwater Fair”. I also remember the Liverpool Scene doing a blues, with Adrian Henri singing “You make me feel like a wellington filled with blood.”

FAITH AND HENRY – Whilst at the Octagon we were asked to write and play the music for a TV play set in Bolton. Produced by Kenith Trodd and directed by Jack Gold. As a twenty-one year old it was exciting going to London to play in sync with the film footage. Here’a sample of one of the demos we did for it, showing the music speeding up and down with the action on screen: Listen to music from “FAITH & HENRY”

YTV – The same year we were approached to write and sing Christmas jingles for Yorkshire TV. We were pleased with the end result, but the rostrum camera operators went on strike, and our jingles were broadcast the next Christmas. Click to hear one of them: Dave & Bernard sing “Lay The Table”. The instrumental passage after the first verse was the bed for the programme information voiceover.

FOLK CLUBS - Dave & Bernard had a good reputation for the live gigs. Here we are in action at the “Bull & Stirrup” folk club in Chester around 1969. Sounds a little rough but the atmosphere is great. Thanks to Tony Ballard for keeping the tape over the years:
Dave & Bernard sing “Roll Alabama Roll”

We stayed on at the Octagon to do “Charlie Came To Our Town” (by Alan Plater), “The Hollow Crown,” “Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Classes” and finally a show we wrote ourselves – “It Brings Good Cheer.” Then we went our separate ways.

1970

KEN CAMPBELL ROADSHOW – I joined the “Octagon Roadshow” which, after four weeks, became the “Ken Campbell Roadshow.” With Ken, Dave Hill, Jane Wood, and Bob Hoskins, we performed playlets and songs in in pubs and clubs around the North, including a two week run at the Cockpit theatre in London.

CALENDAR – The first tv programme I did in a solo capacity was to sing my first song (“Our Bill and the Concrete Mixer,” which I had just written) as part of an item on the Ken Campbell Roadshow.

BOLTON WANDERERS – I left the Roadshow after a few months to write the songs for and to perform in another Octagon documentary – “Bolton Wanderers,” which charted the origins of the team and had an interactive second half! Here’s a sample of the cast in action from a BBC R4 review of the play: The cast sing “When We Were Up”. The last verse mentions Teddy Vizard, one of the great names from the early days of the team. During the run of the play we tried to get similar legends, whom we knew were still with us, to come and see the production. One night Teddy Vizard came along and was duly pointed out during the action. He stood up and got a rousing ovation.

SPRING & PORT WINE - Then I was asked to write a song for the production of “Spring and Port Wine”, which resulted in “The One Place For Me”. I recorded it with Ted Richards (who was then a member of the Octagon company) on drums. The theatre sound system then was so bad that on the opening night I took my B&O tape recorder down and dangled the lid speakers out of the booth – it was a better sound! The song, along with views of Bolton, was the opening scene. Here’s a snatch of that home recording: “The One Place For Me (orig)”. They used our cat in that production (deaf, white Persian). She was ideal, not being able to hear extraneous noises on stage. Had to take her there every night! I hasten to add that the sound at the Octagon is excellent now, and in 2008 Noreen Kershaw directed a new production of S&PW. She kindly used my song (the Buggerlugs version from 1993) at the very end. “The One Place For Me (1993)”

THE ABOMINABLE SHOWMAN - I stayed on to write and perform the music for this show by Tim Shields, about the life of Phileas Barnum. Here’s a rehearsal demo of one of the songs, from when Barnum becomes a “gent” (the drummer is John Kelly): “Song For A Gent”

MUSIC HALL - In the first of the “Music Hall” productions there I remember singing “Nobody Loves a Fairy When She’s Forty” dressed in clogs and a tutu. Some things never change, for here I am dressed similarly in 1999, repeating that earth shattering performance on the Houghton Weavers’ Xmas Tour:

ROLL ON FOUR O’CLOCK - I was still working at the Octagon theatre when Colin Welland (writer) and Kenith Trodd (producer) asked me if I’d sing a traditional Scottish song (Jute Mill Song) as the theme for their tv play. I played a guitar accompaniment and tracked a concertina over it. I can’t find the end credits where I’m singing the song, but here’s the opening sequence where I’m playing the tune as the action unfolds:

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By now the songwriting bug had bitten and instead of finding traditional songs to perform in folk clubs and concerts, as we had always done, I began to write my own. Some of them appeared on the first two Topic albums, and by the time the Transatlantic LPs were released virtually all of the material was self-composed

1971

SAID THE PREACHER (BBC2) – This was my first acting role on TV. I played a lout whose pilfering habit the local vicar was trying to cure. It also included Victor Henry and Madge Hindle – directed by Michael Apted.

HOME AND AWAY – This title predated the Australian soap by quite a few years. It was a six part Granada series written by Julia Jones and starring Gillian Raines (Mrs Leonard Rossiter). I was cast as an office clerk for three of the episodes.

1972

THE FRIDAY BROWN SHOW – I remember singing two songs on this local BBC show, wearing some awful trousers from BBC wardrobe, and looking quite out of place playing my bass concertina.

A DAY OUT – It was May of ’72 and I was asked to play daft Ernest in Alan Bennett’s first TV film, directed by Stephen Frears. It took about a month to shoot, in and around Halifax and Ripon. It was originally planned to be filmed in sepia, but ended up in black and white. I still shudder at the scene where we fall off the bikes – because it actually happened, and we ended up in the casualty ward. The nurse thought we’d broken out of an asylum when we turned up bruised and battered in 1912 costumes!

Here are some of Ernest’s scenes:

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1973

BALLAD OF THE NORTH WEST – I acted and sang in this local BBC TV documentary series which showed how the events of the past two hundred years in the area have been reflected in song. Narrated by Harry Boardman and directed by Douglas Boyd. Here’s a demo from it with Wilf on the fiddle and me on the concertina: “Foster’s Mill”

1974

SUNSET ACROSS THE BAY – Alan Bennett’s second TV film was about a couple retiring to Morecambe – the place where they’d always gone on holiday. I played a milkman delivering to their house and engaging in conversation with them. I remember that after take 5 I’d knackered the electric milk float.

Here’s that clip:

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FAIRPORT CONVENTION – I bought a ticket to see Fairport (the Jerry Donahue era) at the Albert Halls in Bolton. As I’m sat there, one of the organizers came up and said “Are you Bernard?” I thought it best to own up, and he went on to tell me that the support band hadn’t turned up and would I do the spot before Fairports? I replied that I’d bought a ticket to see them and of course hadn’t got any instruments with me – to which he offered to refund the ticket, pay me to do the support, and could I nip home and get my guitar etc? Of course I did, so I saw the band (great) for free, did a spot and got paid.

Throughout the seventies I sang in folk clubs, festivals and concerts all over the country, including a couple of trips abroad – France and Cyprus. I remember Christmas Day ’74, twiddling the radio dial and hearing me singing “Nelly the Elephant.” I presumed it was a local radio recording I’d done until I realized it was Radio Paris broadcasting a recording made a few months earlier during the French trip! Here I am performing “Knackered” at a student gig at Boot Hall in Nottingham, mid seventies: “Knackered” in Knottingham. And here’s a live recording from BBC R2′s “Folk On Two” when Peter Pilbeam was producer. It’s from the Black Diamonds’ club in Chester – Tony Capstick introduces me:

“Blow Away The Morning Dew”

1975

THAT’S LIFE – I broke down on the M62 going to Leeds to play on the “Les Dawson Show” for YTV. It was six hours before I finally met the AA patrol, and I was telling the story to a wordsmith I know called Henry Boot (not McAlpine’s competitor). He wrote this tale into a parody of “Riders in the Sky”. I sent a tape of this to “That’s Life” and Glyn Worsnip liked it and sent a film crew to record me singing the song on the motorway bridge at Birch Services. So, I missed the ITV show but ended up doing a BBC one instead! Here’s a recording of the song a few years later from a BBC concert: “The AA Song”

GRANADA REPORTS – I was asked to write and sing a song each week for the programme’s “Consumer Desk” each Monday. Some weeks there was only a day’s notice, and I remember the sixth one being axed due to an industrial dispute.

THE WHY FRONTS – A short lived supergroup! It started with Bob Williamson, Roger Woodcock and me, and then Roger wasn’t there. Bob and I used to raid the Benny Hill vaults for material, then eventually we were too busy doing solo stuff to keep the Whys going. Roger’s living in the Isle of Man, and Bob, one of that great breed of comedy folksingers, is lying low in Bolton, daft as ever, and still writing comedy. Here’s a clip of the 3 of us doing a Scaffold piece at Bury folk club that year. Thanks to Pete Lewis for the tape: “Permissive Society”

IN THE HEEL OF THE HUNT – I played concertina for a scene in this Granada tv film in which the Irish construction workers were having a knees up whilst in the process of building the M62. Directed by Leslie Woodhead.

1976

THE FESTIVE POACHER – (by Ian Taylor) This was one of the “Second City Firsts” series produced by Tara Prem (Mrs Brian Glover). My character was a young bloke who lived with his grandma (played by Liz Smith). He’d spent all his money on the upkeep of his racing greyhound and had to steal a turkey for Christmas. I recorded two songs for this. One was a theme song I wrote for the beginning and end: the other was a carol which was played as if on the radio in the kitchen during the first scene. As it finished, John Dunn’s voice said “That was Bernard Wrigley singing “The Holly and the Ivy”. In their infinite wisdom the BBC accountants decided to eventually wipe the whole series.

THE FOSDYKE SAGA - This production, for which I wrote the music, was initially performed at the ICA in London. It was scripted by Alan Plater from the characters created by Bill Tidy. BBC2 also recorded a performance at the Haymarket theatre in Leicester. This was broadcast as a play and produced by David Rose. I put the theme song “Fosdykes Arise” on my “Ten Ton Special” LP the year after. The Scaffold recorded the song as well, and I remember playing as one of the band on a gig in Worcester not long after. Still waiting for the dosh. Here are a couple more songs – these are from the rehearsal demos I recorded: “The Red White & Blue” “Lily Livered Coward”

FOSDYKE TWO - A year or so after I did the same for the sequel – two of those demo songs are here: “The Fosdykes Will Rise Again” “The Tripe Step”

THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT- These were five minute clips shown every weekday before the network shut down at night. They were recorded as 40 minute concerts before an invited audience in the studio and edited from that. Mine was recorded on the same night that John Laurie (Dad’s Army) gave his renditions of the poetry of William McGonigle. Guests on other weeks included Spike Milligan, Wilfred Makepeace-Lunn (the inventor) and the Oldham Tinkers.. Directed by Arthur Taylor, who later published an authoritative book on pub games.

1977

AFTERNOON OFF – Another Alan Bennett film. This was about a Chinese lad asking everyone in town if they’d seen his girlfriend called Iris. I played a foundry worker. “Bite his ankles, Dougie” will always be a favourite line. Filmed in Hartlepool, dubbed in London. The editor is now a director, and remembering this film he asked me to play a part in “My Son the Fanatic” in 1996.

ROYAL COMMAND – 1977 was the Queen’s Jubilee year and two extra Royal Command performances were scheduled. I was asked to be in the Manchester one at the Palace Theatre, along with Stuart Hall, the Oldham Tinkers, and the entire cast of Coronation Street. I read out a rather fitting Marriott Edgar monologue – “Jubilee Sovereign,” played “Tea for Two” on the guitar, and sang “September In The Rain” in falsetto. Coupled with meeting the Queen and Prince Philip afterwards, it was a very memorable evening.

CORONATION STREET – I played a compere/comedian for two episodes in the Gatsby Night Club where Rita sang and Ernie Bishop played the piano. At the end of the first episode, just as a stripper was in full flight, the police raided – much to the dismay of councillor Alf Roberts. I had to tell some dodgy gags, hoping that people wouldn’t think it representative of my normal stage performance! In those days everyone turned up every day to rehearse all the scenes, as in a theatre production. The same happened in EMMERDALE – a far cry from the rehearse/record syndrome of today. Link to: Who’s who in Coronation Street

1978

GRANADA ROADSHOW – Another series using this name. This time it was a series of four concerts produced by Trevor Hyett. My episode was recorded at Haigh Hall, an ex-stately home near Wigan. Other guests were Steeleye Span and the stunning American guitarist Leo Kottke. I can’t remember what I sang, but I’d just returned from some gigs in Cyprus wearing a tan and an Eagles t-shirt. After this I wrote a Kottke-inspired tune “Raggetty” which ended up on my ‘Instrumental Album”.

YANKS GO HOME – Drama series shot at Granada. My job was to play an entertainer doing a rather poor imitation of Al Jolson. I remember being glad they didn’t want a good impersonation, and that Bruce Boa starred in it.

VILLAGE HALL – A Granada drama series about six completely different village halls and the characters involved. My episode was called “Miss Health and Beauty” from which I remember Elizabeth Spriggs and Sue Nichols (just before she became Audrey in Coronation Street). I played a singer dressed in a gorilla suit singing “Girl from Ipanema” in falsetto! I remember rehearsing this in Camden, London and in the next room the group “Guys and Dolls ” (very popular then) were practising routines.

ME, I’M AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF – An LWT production writted by Alan Bennett and directed by Innes Lloyd. I played a teacher in a night school – a very cynical character and a joy to perform. When recording was over I remember walking to Euston along the Thames Embankment at night and visiting the Houses of Parliament to watch a debate.

View a scene from the play:

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I was also asked to write a song for the play, which I did. I called it “Our Trevor”. It never got used, but it’s always flattering to be asked. Here’s my demo of it: “Our Trevor”

1979

MERSEY PIRATE – A most innovative children’s programme broadcast live every Saturday morning from the Royal Iris ferry boat, which was actually sailing up and down the river during transmission. Duggie Brown played the captain – I was the French chef (Pierre le Oui Oui). It included mainly live items with some prerecorded sketches and songs. I used to demonstrate recipes musically as parodies of well known songs eg: “September In the Rain” was used for Quiche Lorraine. I bought our first video recorder so I could watch the programme when I got home later on Saturday. Unfortunately, half of the series was lost due to industrial action over use of steadicams. Here I am with a musical recipe recorded on that very machine:

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And here is Pierre le Oui Oui making a mess of the Captain’s dinner:

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CORONATION STREET - I played a chauffeur who took Hilda and Stan on their second honeymoon. This was the original 3/4 scale set next to Water Street, and I can remember turning the Daimler under the bridge and stopping dead – there was a brick wall in the way. Link to: Who’s who in Coronation Street

WOOD AND WALTERS – Vic and Julie’s series for Granada was directed by Stuart Orme, who also did “Mersey Pirate.” I sang and played on Victoria’s “Northern Song,” doing a spoof clog dance in the middle. Later I remember being a dead body in a sketch with the girls and Michael Angelis.

FIVEPENNY PIECE SHOW – Did the guest spot on one of their BBC2 shows recorded at the Poco a Poco in Stockport. I sang “Buggerlugs Loves Sugar Butty” (freshly written) “Nelly the Elephant” “Girl From Ipanema” and then sang with them on “Big Jim,” little knowing I would join the band in 1995.

Here I am doing “Buggerlugs Loves Sugar Butty”

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and here’s “Nelly the Elephant” on the bass concertina:

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Apart from my own lps, we did one called “Lanky Spoken Here!” in 1979. It was adapted from Dave Dutton’s book of the same name and Dave and I wrote the songs. It was recorded live and also included Fivepenny Piece, Bob Williamson, Gary and Vera, and Tony Melody. The subject was the humour contained in the Lancashire dialect, and the posh translations were read by Robert Dougall and Shiela Tracy. A very funny album which EMI later deleted in their wisdom, only to reissue on CD in 2003.

1980

THE ZOO - A Granada film for tv about a football team, of which I was a member. All the soccer playing was filmed at Preston North End’s ground. We had to attend some training sessions with the official team coach, which left us slightly fatigued – I can remember opening the car door at the end of a particularly strenuous session and I couldn’t lift my leg over the door sill!

FUN FACTORY - Granada’s follow up to “Mersey Pirate” and broadcast live from the ex-warehouse nearby that was “Albion Market.” I mimed to a prerecorded version of “Saturday Cowboys”which was a single release on DJM at the time, and also interviewed a girl who was the champion UK bubble gum blower. Elvis Costello was another guest on this episode, and it was Jeremy Beadle’s first TV programme.

Here I am, talking to Billy Butler & performing the song:

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1981

CROWN COURT – I played a dodgy electrician called Rex Meredith who rewired a disco before it burnt down. I remember Elizabeth Spriggs playing the defendant and Pamela Salem as a barrister.

GLAMOUR GIRLS – This was a Granada series starring Bridget Forsyth. I played a bloke in a restaurant complaining bitterly about the service.

1982

BOTTLE OF GUINNESS SUPPORTERS’ CLUB – This was a £2m advertising campaign which included two 10 sec and two 45 sec tv adverts. I played and sang the title role of the foreman on the building site who bought all the construction workers a round of drinks in the pub at night. In an effort not to waste freshly poured Guinness from each take, we ended up slightly the worse for wear at the end of a three day shoot. The song was a parody of a Gilbert and Sullivan song from HMS Pinafore.

Here’s the advert:

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STRANGERS – A Granada series which was the forerunner of “Taggart.” I played one of the detectives at a weekend conference on urban guerrilla tactics. The mansion house where it was filmed (near Macclesfield) is now a restaurant.

1983

CORONATION STREET – I did three episodes as Harry the Breadman who fancied Bet Lynch when she lived over Alf Roberts’ corner shop. Harry also flirted with Deirdre, who worked in the shop at the time. Link to: Who’s who in Coronation Street

INSURANCE MAN – Another Alan Bennett film, this one about Franz Kafka as a young man. My scenes were filmed in a tannery in Keighley which, without any tampering, passed for Czechoslovakia in 1912! I shall never forget my immortal script direction-”Workman B is pissing”

1984

EMMERDALE – I played a customer who entered the Woolpack pub, but after looking round and after having a few words with Amos, the landlord, decided to take my custom elsewhere.

BONNY BRID – A 3 part BBC NW series about the effect of the cotton famine on the working folk of Lancashire. I played the local singer and concertina player, both at the pub and at a wedding.

PRIVATE FUNCTION - In this film I was the painter who was renovating the chiropodist’s shop that Michael Palin’s character had taken over. My speaking part ended up on the cutting room floor. However, that particular scene was also recorded by BBC2 for FILM 84 with Barry Norman. So, in between interviews with Alan Bennett (writer) and Malcolm Mowbray (writer and director) the tv broadcast that very scene-before the film was released without it!

1985

HIDEAWAY- This was a series about an alleged criminal hiding in the depths of Derbyshire. I played a champion darts player. It took nearly two hours to to do a cutaway shot of a dart hitting the bull!

LADA TRAINING FILM – I played a rather thick counter assistant called Wally who worked behind the sales counter in a garage. Needless to say, he did everything wrong. Because I was involved in every scene the time during the three day shoot seemed to fly by.

1986

RITA SUE AND BOB TOO – Directed by Alan Clarke. My part was the schoolteacher, which involved a scene in the classroom and another walking up the steep hill in Haworth (ten times). Here is the classroom scene, and then a part of the Haworth scene.

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1987

BBC2 NEWSNIGHT – This was an election special, and because Bolton town is judged to be a barometer of national voting opinion, I was asked to write a song which included certain relevant issues in each verse. For instance, I sang the verse about hospitals outside the hospital gates, and the education verse outside a school. Very unusual to have a singer on Newsnight.

The eighties were filled with live performances including a return trip to Cyprus, three visits to Hong Kong, the Shetlands Festival, and radio programmes, such as “Folk On 2″ “Unglamorous Nights” (Radio 3) “You and Yours” (Radio 4) and quite a few on local networks. It wasn’t until ’89 that I did another live theatre production. This was back at the Octagon and gave me a strong sense of deja-vu. It was exactly twenty years since the “Bolton Massacre” and here I was doing a play about the civil war again in the same building. This was “Lass From The Man and Scythe.” I wrote the songs and played a philosophical character called Dust who was like a time traveller, narrating and linking scenes together.

1990

WEBSTERS BITTER – advert. I played in two of these ads, firstly as a bloke who had a ferret down his trousers, and in the other I played the voice of a police horse conversing with the two equine stars.

1991

KILROY – This was a discussion about North versus South. Usual chat stuff where nothing ever gets resolved. Complete waste of time.

CORONATION STREET – The story was that Mavis had been feeding Derek nutmeg to spice up their love life. Turned out he pinched a lady’s bottom in the supermarket (she was played by Jane Cox). I played the husband, Harry Shaw, who eventually threw Derek out of his house. Six years later, Jane and I are husband and wife again in Emmerdale (Lisa and Barry Clegg) Link to: Who’s who in Coronation Street

WAITING FOR GODOT – In ’91, again at the Octagon we did Andy Hay’s production of this Samuel Becket classic. I played Estragon and Mike Harding played Vladimir, with Richard Hayes as Pozzo and John Lloyd-Fillingham as Lucky. Mike and I were nominated for the Northern Drama Awards after this. We didn’t win, but it’s flattering to be nominated.
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1992

PACKING THEM IN – A C4 production shot before an invited audience at Wakefield Playhouse with Frank Skinner and Jenny Eclair (amongst others). I played a sketch in which I was covered in blood and gore, staggered in the pub, and uttered the line “Who left that sodding Jaguar in the car park”.

ALADDIN BOLTON – Back again at the Octagon for Christmas ’92 I played Abanazer in pantomime there. This version takes its name from wherever it’s being performed, and is full of songs from the 1960′s. All the actors were the musicians as well – great fun to perform, and just as well, for we did fifty two performances.

1993

LAST OF THE SUMMER WINE – Played a gypsy called Duane whose wife (played by Kate Robbins) bought a load of patio furniture from ace salesperson Ma Wainwright (played by Jean Alexander). Duane was so annoyed that he took the lot back and went in Wainwright’s shop saying “This is how to deal with salespeople.” Next time we see them they’ve bought twice as much furniture and Duane is trying to convince his wife what a bargain it was.

1994

CHILDREN’S WARD – This was the series before it changed its name to THE WARD. I played a heavy called Bernard?! who worked for a moneylender (played by Lesley Claire O’Neill) and drove a 7 litre Chevy convertible around – great fun!

EMMERDALE – I played a c&w singer called Hank Johnstone who sang in the bar of the Woolpack. His accent kept slipping from pseudo-American to broad Northern. After he’d introduced each song, the dialogue took over with music underneath. It was the episode where Zoe told her dad she was gay.

MANCHESTER SHIP CANAL - 100 YEARS – In ’94 I wrote songs and performed them (with Wilf Darlington) for a Radio 2 Arts programme which celebrated the centenary of the Manchester Ship Canal. Produced by Pete Johnson who then went to be a presenter on Jazz FM. Here are a couple of items from it, which show both sides of the raging argument for and against. The “Lords Of The Loom” we found as a speech, and set it to a four part harmony. The “Venice Of The North”, with Wilf on piano, imagines the prosperity that the canal will bring to the area. “Lords Of The Loom” “Venice Of The North”

1995

GRIMM - This was one of a series of plays in the NEW VOICES series featuring new writers and new directors. This was directed by Noreen Kershaw (who then went on to do CORONATION STREET.) I played a bingo caller obsessed with death e.g. “Number ten…. Rillington Place”

ROAD - In ’95 I had to rearrange my solo dates yet again when I played the part of Scullery in Jim Cartwright’s “Road.” This was at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and was especially memorable because Jim directed it himself – the first time he had done so. Just in time too – the year after, the theatre was extensively damaged by the bomb blast.

1996

SOUL MUSIC - This is a cartoon version of Terry Pratchett’s book from the hugely successful DISCWORLD series. I played the voice of Asphalt, a squashed troll. It’s a Cosgrove-Hall production and only available on video.

COOGAN’S RUN - Steve Coogan did a series of six where he played a different character each week. I was in the “Gareth Cheeseman” episode, playing Tony the hotel receptionist who chose to be hard of hearing when it suited him – which was most of the time when faced with individuals like Cheeseman. Tony also had a scam going with the hotel prostitute (played by Gaynor Faye) where he set her up with clients, she would rob them whilst they were asleep, and the two of them would split the profits. Filmed in Surrey during the hot June of ’95, and produced by Geoff Posner.

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CORONATION STREET – One of Don Brennan’s card-playing taxi driver friends was Stan Whaller, the part I played for one episode. Together they decided to fleece young Ashley at cards, but he ended up beating both of us!

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BRASSED OFF – I played Chapman,the union official, in this cinema film. The scenes I was involved in were shot in October and November of ’95 at the colliery near Hatfield Woodhouse, a few miles from Doncaster. Reading the complete script is one thing, but it wasn’t until I saw the premiere at Leeds International Film Festival that I realised what a powerful production this is. It has humour, pathos, tragedy, and a strong integrity – I felt proud to have been involved in it. As a special treat at the premiere the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, who feature throughout the film, played a short concert in front of the screen.

EBC – This was a corporate video shot specifically for staff training. It involved playing around twelve different parts with corresponding costume changes. An actor’s dream.

POLICE TRAINING VIDEO – This was shot in and around Harrogate, where the Police training unit is. It was to do with the change in the law regarding cautioning of suspects. I played a cafe owner helping police with their enquiries. Also memorable for me because when driving home the day after I hit a traffic island refuge and wrecked a wheel and tyre!

1997

EMMERDALE – In December ’96 I started recording the part of Barry Clegg, a rather odd inventor who lived in a barn on the Clegg’s pig farm. He and Lisa had an agreement that despite their not wanting to be married anymore, it would be very convenient if he could stay at the farm and pursue his life’s quest-building a manned rocket. One influential factor was that Barry’s rocket ran on pig muck-a “pig poo powered projectile.” The story’s based on there actually being a reward of $6 million for the first home-made manned rocket to reach the ceiling of 72 miles. The trouble began when Lisa started dating Zak Dingle. He and Barry did not get on.
After the whole business ended with the farm and rocket blowing up (a rather spectacular scene which is included in the “25 years of” section at the end of the “Dingles Down Under” video) Barry returned in July to wreck Lisa’s wedding to Albert Dingle. November. December and Jan’ 98 saw Barry back, carol singing with Zak, and with a new invention: a treadle-powered microwave oven! This proved to be a dismal failure with the Dingle’s Christmas dinner, but not to be outdone Barry altered the power source to an exercise bike with much more success.
When I finally got round to digitising the scenes I did, there turned out to be so many (from nearly 40 episodes) that I started a seperate link. See *EMMERDALE in the LINKS on the left.

THE LOWER DEPTHS – In summer of ’97 I realized one of my ambitions – to take part in a drama production on Radio 4. This was Alan Plater’s adaptation of Gorky’s “Lower Depths” : a tragi- comic play about a group of people in a Russian doss house at the turn of the century. I was a character called Kletzch, and also played concertina – a tune for the theme, and as accompaniment to the song which all the characters sang. It was recorded in Cardiff and produced by Alison Hindell.

MY SON THE FANATIC – A film directed by Udayan Prasad of Hanif Kureishi’s short story (screenplay also by Kureishi). I played a drunken bloke who picks up the starlet (Rachel Griffiths) in a bar (called “Manningham’s”- a reference to the racist nature of the comedian performing there). Then he humps her in the back of a taxi. This section filmed in a car on a trailer driving around Halifax. The director remembered me from when he was an editor working on Alan Bennett’s “Afternoon Off” and asked for me specifically to play the part. What a memory!

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Sadly, the scene had been edited to remove the shot of Charlie against the the wall with clouds of steam rising as he widdled. This was achieved by using a condom full of warm tea. On the command “Action” the props man punctured the condom I was holding, and the result was a very realistic clouds of steam! Very clever props man.

KNIGHT SCHOOL – This is a children’s series shot at Granada. I did a cameo role in one episode as a highwayman called Stan Dandeliver!

SNOW WHITE – More rearranging of gigs, for Christmas ’97 saw me playing the part of Muddles, the original pillock, in “Snow White” at Southport Theatre. I sang Buggerlugs Loves Sugarbutty in duet with Snow White (played by Ann Nolan), and sketches with Sarah the Cook (Duggie Brown – my old mate from “Mersey Pirate)”

1998

PASSION PLAY – A production of this startling play was done by Barrie Rutter’s “Northern Broadsides” company over Easter. We rehearsed Monday and Tuesday, and the first performance was Wednesday! The first four were at the Viaduct theatre in Halifax. For Easter Sunday and Monday we transferred to the Saltaire complex near Bradford. I played Cayphas the High Priest.

COLD FEET – I played a taxi driver in the first series of this ITV production, taking Adam (James Nesbitt) to the hospital. Directed by Declan Lowney (of Father Ted fame).
Here are the scenes stitched together:

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THE COPS – After three improvisational auditions for a particular part, I ended up playing a completely different one – that of an irate householder whose fish had been stolen. It was filmed three roads away from our house!
Here are the clips from it:

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DINNER LADIES – I was billed as “Man in queue” for this, the first episode of Victoria Wood’s very funny sitcom. I only uttered the one (immortal) line “Is there no gravy?” It was great fun. Here’s the scene:

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LIMESTONE COWBOY – It was a great pleasure to do this play in Coventry at the Belgrade Theatre during August and September. Written by Bob Eaton (the artistic director at the Belgrade) and Sayan Kent, it’s the story of George and Grace Burke (played by myself and Eithne Browne) and how they inherit a farm on the Derbyshire hillside. They’re huge country and western fans (in fact George tried to make it big in Nashville twenty years previously but only lasted two weeks) and he thinks he’s got his own Ponderosa. As the plot develops it looks like they’ll lose it all, resulting in some great argument scenes. Coupled with some excellent songs and musicians, and local linedancers for good measure, it was a delight to perform.

XMAS TOUR WITH THE HOUGHTON WEAVERS – I did the tour with the lads in 1988 & 1989, and it’s a pleasure to be asked to do the 1998 one. It encompasses twenty one dates throughout December from Rhyl to Ulverston and all stations in between.

1999

CORONATION STREET – I played the part of the very odd Rev. Marvin Winstanley. Roy contacted the Rev with a view to conducting his wedding ceremony with Hayley. After showing him round the little meeting place and the upstairs chapel of the John Doe Reformed Resurrectionist Ministerial Church, Roy tells Hayley. She is not impressed because Marvin implied she would be the first trans-sexual he would have married.

Here’s the visit, with an introductory scene from Roy & Gail:
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NORWEGIAN LOTTERY ADVERT – In April I was asked to go to Norway to take part in a commercial for the Norwegian Lottery. This involved playing the part of a slightly camp hairdresser who goes into a dream whilst noticing the lottery results on the salon TV. The lady’s hair he is cutting suffers as a result – she ends up looking like a trimmed poodle. It will be fascinating to see the finished version. Luckily, no-one speaks in the ad (it will be a voice-over) or I’d still be there. Lovely countryside around Oslo (but the beer is so dear!)

RADIO LANCASHIRE – I’ve been standing in for Jim Bowen on the morning show with Sally during the summer, and I’ve been doing a series of programmes about anecdotes for broadcast in September.

ERIC MORECAMBE PLAQUE CEREMONY – In July I had the great honour to be asked to unveil a plaque outside the house where Eric Morecambe grew up. This was the week before the Queen unveiled the bronze statue of Eric on the promenade there in Morecambe. The “Wrigley’s Wrandom Jottings” programme on Radio Lancs began in August. Sixteen weeks of me rambling on about a particular topic and interspersed with my favourite records. Lots of the Beach Boys and Steely Dan were included – broadcast Sat at noon repeated Sun at 3pm.

HARBOUR LIGHTS – For ten days in September I did an episode of “Harbour Lights” for BBC TV where I play an unsavoury character called Martin Blade. He gets murdered, and I was pleased that the weather was still warmish when I had to spend an afternoon in the harbour, fully clothed, being washed up as a dead body. Great fun – beaten up as well. It was shown in 2000 – here are some of the scenes:

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OLDHAM TINKERS WORLD TOUR -In October, apart from my usual solo gigs, I did another world tour with the Oldham Tinkers, reaching far flung resorts like Wigan, Blackburn and Morecambe.

DINNERLADIES – In late October and throughout November, I recorded episodes 5 and 6 of Victoria Wood’s “DinnerLadies,” broadcast set for 23 and 25 December. Not only was it an absolute hoot to rehearse and record, but the scripts have added depths of drama and pathos. Very clever lady. Here I am pleading for bacon, liver, underwear, and gasping for a cup of tea:

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This is the scene where I sing and dance with the brilliant Sue Devaney:

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XMAS TOUR WITH THE HOUGHTON WEAVERS – It’s a Christmas of dressing up in women’s clothes again, because I’m Fairy Snowdrop in the Christmas tour with the Houghton Weavers. It’s a great blend of seasonal songs and silliness. Check their website www.houghtonweavers.com

EMMERDALE

I’d been in two episodes before as different characters, but in 1997/8 I did almost forty episodes chronicling the story of Lisa’s husband Barry Clegg and some of his weird and wonderful inventions.

Here are some of the scenes, not all, but enough to show the saga of the rocket & Barry’s further inventions.

THE ROCKET SAGA: In chapter 1: Marlon and Butch meet Barry for the first time, and a game of Connect 4 is played for a most unusual prize:

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In chapter 2: Butch drinks something he shouldn’t and Barry reveals his secret (or so they believe):

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In chapter 3: The real secret is revealed and Barry has trouble trying to recruit a suitable astronaut.

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In chapter 4: Butch goes weightless, Marlon is negligent, and Zak has to apologise again to Lisa.

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In chapter 5 there’s a proliferation of pig poo and Barry gets clever.

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In chapter 6 Marlon is literally in the shit. Barry ambushes Marlon & Butch

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In chapter 7 a climax is reached, but the timing’s wrong

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In chapter 8 it’s the aftermath of the farm blowing up. Barry gets up Zak’s nose again.

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In chapter 9 the landlord of Barry & Lisa’s farm gets nasty, and plans are made.

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EMMERDALE – CAROLS , INVENTIONS, & A WEDDING

THE WEDDING: After the story of the rocket, Barry vanished mysteriously. He turned up a few months later to wreck the wedding of Lisa (to whom he’s still married) and Zak’s brother Albert.

It was filmed in June of 1997, and it was a treat not to be wearing thermals, which we had to do throughout the rocket saga.

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ZAK & BARRY’S CAROL DING-DONG

CHAPTER 1: After the abortive wedding, Barry wasn’t seen until nearer Christmas. He and Zak independently decided to make money busking by singing carols – Barry with his Telecaster and Zak with his drums.

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CHAPTER 2: Barry, under threat from Lisa, has to enlist a busking partner.

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CHAPTER 3: Barry charms Lisa, annoys Zak even more, and then has a special announcement.

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MORE INVENTIONS

CHAPTER 1: Barry’s not put off by the failures and disappointments – he’s back with another invention. Will it take over the world?

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CHAPTER 2: Barry’s new invention is set for a live TV broadcast. Will the Dingles intervention ruin this as well?

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After this gullible moment, Barry walked round the side of a shed and hasn’t been seen since! If you see him on your travels, get in touch with www.ispottedbarry.com and win a Barratt house …….

2000

WALLS SAUSAGE ADVERT – January was mainly singing in folk clubs. In February I went to Shepperton Studios in London for a three day shoot to record an advert for Walls Sausages, in which I led an escape party of prisoners digging an escape tunnel from prison. It’s all been worked out wrongly, and instead of popping up through the ground beyond the prison walls we’re still inside!

MAGNIFICENT MONOLOGUES – When I wasn’t singing for a crust, March and April were consumed with recording the album “Magnificent Monologues.” I did this in digital format throughout for the first time, and gathered together seventeen of the greatest humorous monologues ever written – all with piano accompaniment. The finished album came back from the CD factory on May 28th 2000.

ANOTHER OLDHAM TINKERS WORLD TOUR – May saw the Oldham Tinkers and me doing another world tour, again reaching far flung places. We did the Municipal hall at Colne followed by a sell out at the Oldham Coliseum Theatre. As part of BBC Music Live 2000, we did another sellout, this time at Bolton Albert Halls. It was promoted by GMR, quickly edited, and broadcast the next day. That same evening I went back to the Municipal at Colne and had the great pleasure of presenting a concert with the Nelson Civic Choirs and Peter Skellern. It was broadcast live, complete with my counting down everyone to sing “Perfect Day” in sync with the rest of Britain at 10pm. Then home for a rub down with a paraffin rag.

RETURN TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET – At the Octagon Theatre Bolton – Played the part of the announcer. This is an unusual role since it’s prerecorded, so you’re in the live show every night but don’t have to turn up!

HEARTBEAT - In an episode called “The Traveller” I played the part of manager of a Betting Office. David Essex guested as the travelling man.

Here’s a clip where the bad lads try to raid my betting shop:

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PAROLE OFFICER - A Steve Coogan film, in which I played the organizer and spokesman of a cycling rally. There were hundreds of cyclists gathered outside Manchester Town Hall – my job was to inform them of the rally’s events whilst the action of robbing the bank was taking place. Some of it was done the week after in Liverpool, and in true film style it all edits seamlessly together. With hours of shouting to address the assembled throng I lost my voice, just about managing to do a wild track before it went all together. Then, when you see the edited version, all those hours become 3 minutes! That’s filming.

*to be uploaded*

STRUMPET - I did 3 scenes in this made-for-TV Jim Cartwright play directed by Danny Boyle (of “Trainspotting” fame). When it got to the editing stage there was 25 minutes too much, so many scenes had to go – including mine. Very strange to see the credits at the end with my name on – yet I’m not in it. Turned out Danny Boyle and I went to the same secondary school (ten years apart) so we had a lot of tales to swap.

PHOENIX NIGHTS - Filmed my first appearance as Dodgy Eric in the first series of this landmark production. I love the outtake on the DVD where I do the whole scene in one, but get the very last word wrong “Come on Brian, it’ll be shitting bricks” instead of “shitting money.” Great fun.

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VICTORIA WOOD & ALL THE TRIMMINGS – A Xmas special where Victoria wrote spoofs of many famous pieces from the literary and film worlds. I was in “Brassed Up” which was another way of looking at “Brassed Off”. It was the bandroom scene where Gloria turns up with her flugel horn and shyly asks to play in the brass band (she actually did play for the recording, too). I played the euphonium player in the band (James Bolam played the conductor), and found that if you sing down the instrument it sounds remarkably like the real thing. This came in really useful in 2008 when I was in the Oldham Coliseum production of “Brassed Off”.
Here’s the BRASSED UP sketch:

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I also played in another sketch, being a spoof of “ER”. All the cast, including Derek Jacobi, Richard E. Grant, Lyndsey Duncan, & Geraldine McEwan, had to speak in dodgy American accents. Luckily, that’s quite easy. It’s speaking in authentic ones that’s more difficult. I should have been in the big finale scene of the Xmas prog, but a prior concert arranged for Radio Lancashire meant I couldn’t.

Here’s the WI sketch:

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2001

SHIPMAN - Played a market trader in this drama about the life and deaths of Harold Shipman, the doctor from Mottram (starring James Bolam). It involved one scene and the telling of a couple of gags (which would have been rife at that time). The scene was twice delayed, went through 3 different locations (finally ending up in Barnsley) and then never included in the final edit!

RADIO LANCASHIRE - Hosted the morning show quite a few times when the presenter (Jim Bowen) was otherwise engaged on cruise ships. I hosted a concert recorded at Colne Municipal Hall which featured the Andy Prior Big Band and special guest Bill Tarmey (Jack Duckworth of Coronation Street) who is a fine interpreter of classic songs. Also interviewed him on the morning programme as well.
I also recorded a series of ten programmes called “The Tales Of Tommy Thompson” in which I read many of the short stories that Tommy wrote in the 1940s for the Manchester Guardian newspaper. They were later issued in book form by the publishers Allen & Unwin and featured such titles as “Lancashire Lather”, “Lancashire Lines” and “Under The Barber’s Pole”. This last title was also a BBC radio series starring Wilfred Pickles.

This is a sample of one of my readings.*TT*

Let me know if you’d like more because I could issue them on CD. Each one would contain 9 or 10 stories.

BARBARA - Filmed scenes for this sitcom in Nottingham. I played the manager of a petrol station shop, along with Sam Kelly and Mark Benton.

ALADDIN - Sixty two performances as a Chinese Policeman in this Duggie Chapman production at the Albert Halls in Bolton. I wrote and performed 2 of the songs in it – here’s the song of the Chinese Policemen, where the “fat” and “thin” chorus refers to me and Paul Fairclough, the radio presenter, who was 22 stone at the time (not that I’m thin, but I looked it next to Paul). “The Song Of The Chinese Policemen”

PHOENIX NIGHTS - During the pantomime run I was asked to be Dodgy Eric again in the 2nd series of Phoenix Nights. It turned out to be the classic scene where Eric tries to sell Brian Potter a bouncy castle with a huge phallic extension. Here’s a pic from it until I upload the whole scene:

2002

Not much TV wise, but many gigs around favourite haunts. Another restricted world tour with Oldham Tinkers, including such watering holes as the Mechanics in Burnley (that’s the equivalent of the Town hall), Oldham Coliseum, Accrington Town Hall and Fleetwood Marine Hall.

MARK & LARD’S HALON MENSWEAR AWARD SHOW - Mark Radcliffe & Marc Riley dedicated an afternoon of their BBC Radio 1 programme to this Awards Ceremony. Tables, food, and waiter service were provided. Here’s the invite we received:

Radiohead, the Charlatans, Pulp, New Order, Richard Hawley and the BBC Philharmonic were among the nominees present in the studio. Mark interviewed each in turn. This was mine: Halon Awards

Turned out that I won! The “Fairly Truthful Tales” CD was disc of the year (it could only happen on such a daft programme).

DICK WHITTINGTON - We were asked to do the panto again at Bolton, with most of the same cast. Here’s a pic of me as Captain Codpiece:

*pic*

and one of the songs I wrote. Paul Fairclough was my sidekick again – this time as Kipper, the 1st mate. Here’s the song of the Saucy Sal:

*song*

2003

THE ROYAL - Filmed an episode of this in summer. It was to be shown at Xmas, and I played George, a bit of a recluse, who was in charge of a forest on the hills. The interiors were shot in Leeds, and the exterior scenes were in Scarborough, so imagine how unusual it would have seemed to see a street in Scarborough completely covered in snow in September! I couldn’t find my car keys on the Wednesday I was due to leave, and the only way to get to a booking that night in Mawdesley was to have a courier bring my spare set from home. Rather fraught journey back – happy days!

One of the memorable gigs from that year was the Village Hall in Mugginton, Derbyshire, when my trusty spotlight bulb blew up part way through the first half. Still a good night, though the 2nd half looked a little dimmer.

VICTORIA WOOD’S BIG FAT DOCUMENTARY - I was asked to sing a song for this prog about fat people in Britain and America. As part of the programme, Victoria came to Radio Lancashire’s studios for a live guest spot on Ted Robbin’s morning show. I sang “Does my Bum Look Big In This?” and remembered asking the director how long the programme would be. She replied “46 minutes”. When I asked how much footage they’d shot she said “46 hours”. Thus, I wasn’t surprised when the song didn’t make it to the final edited version. It should appear on my 2009 CD “Every Song Tells A Story”. There was a Wrigley presence on the programme, though, for as Victoria entered the studios of Radio Lancashire one of my jingles was playing.

MARK & LARD - Mark Radcliffe & Marc Riley asked me to read a series of very stupid customs on their Radio 1 afternoon show. They were written by Patrick Gallagher and lovingly sculpted with sounds effects by Chris Lee. I did them from the point of view of a country rustic. Some of the titles included “Boning the Beyonce” and “Humping the Hucknall”. I remember looking at the producer part way through and saying “Aren’t some of these libellous?” She replied “Well you’re reading them!”. Here’s “Podging the Elton” – do let me know if you want to hear more of these. “Podging The Elton”

2004

1096 - I did a little scene in a pilot show for a proposed BBC3 series. The “1096″ title refers to the policeman’s number on his jacket. It starred Neil Fitzmaurice (co-writer of Phoenix Nights) and was directed by Noreen Kershaw. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it it through to be a series.
In the scene I did, the policemen had just used the car vac at the filling station to clean the panda car’s rear seat – someone had crapped on it 3 times!
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BBC R2 FOLK AWARDS - Was asked to present an award at this gathering in London. I was just after Peter O’Toole and immediately before Martin Carthy, so – well placed. The award was to Nancy Kerr and James Fagen for “Best Duo”. They couldn’t be there since they were touring Australia, but I did a concert with them in 2007 at Saltburn – they’re great!

BBC RADIO - August was a radio month for me, where I hosted Jim Bowen’s Radio Lancashire Morning Show for 2 weeks, as well as being guest twice on Mark Radcliffe’s Radio 2 late evening prog. On one of these I played a compilation of all his “err … ums” that he’d uttered on his programme earlier in the week. Luckily, he didn’t take offence … “Mark Radcliffe Umms & Errs”. On one of the programmes, Mark Lamarr was standing in for Mark Radcliffe. He had a knack that week of pressing wrong buttons. Needing no further encouragement, I edited some cock ups he did a couple of days before I was guest. I played them on the show and again, he didn’t take offence. On the other hand, he hasn’t spoken to me since … “Mark Lamarr Nearly Gets It Right”

2005

FAT FRIENDS - This particular episode was written by Ruth Jones, and I was asked to play the part of Tristram, an almost unintelligible Yorkshire farmer. I asked Dave Burland, the King of Barnsley, for some dialect coaching. Wardrobe and Make-Up had a field day with me.

Here’s the clip:
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BAFTA AWARDS CEREMONY - I was invited to Victoria Wood’s BAFTA Award ceremony in London. A lovely evening at a London theatre, complete with red carpet outside. The evening was hosted by Ted Robbins, who was the only celeb not to be phased by the malfunctioning autocue. A true pro.
I was very pleased to see one of my scenes from “Dinner Ladies” played on the big screen “ give us a teabag and I’ll suck it on the way home …”

BBC R4 DRAMA - In “Woman’s Hour” every day on Radio 4 there’s a drama spot of 15 minutes (repeated in the evening). Sometimes they’re complete, other times they’re a series of five. This one was called “The Nocturnalists”, written by Lavinia Murray. It was a two hander about a male and a female zoo keeper. The female was played by Rachel Griffiths, whom I first met at the Octagon, Bolton, all those years ago, and who also played my wife in the TV episode of “Harbour Lights” we did in 1999.

GOD’S OWN COUNTY - I was part way through what I thought would be the next CD when I changed tack and recorded nineteen songs which have some connection to Lancashire.

HEARTBEAT - Played George Costello, owner of a travelling fair. David & cohorts had stolen a food kiosk – George and his brother turn up to claim it back. Turned out my silent, menacing brother was a fellow performer from the folk world – Joe Stead!
I always wanted to have a go in one of those 1950s cars, but when I drove the Standard Vanguard in this episode it shattered a myth. Makes you realize how far car technology has come.
Here are the scenes:
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THE LOWRY, SALFORD - Together with the Oldham Tinkers, we hired the Quays Theatre for the first time. Great night. We did it again in 2007.

SHAMELESS - After saying I wouldn’t do a part in “Shameless” if ever asked, I was asked in September to be in an episode from series 3 and said “Yes”. I played the manager of a “Cash Generator” shop who also went in for cottaging in gents’ toilets. Spent the whole time in or just outside the public toilets in the centre of Swinton, near Manchester. Oh, the glamour of filming.
Fool that I am, I accidentally wiped the recording from my hard drive, otherwise I’d put a clip here in all its glory.

TRIBUTE TO HOVIS - The Bolton poet, Hovis Presley, sadly died this year, and we held a tribute to him at the Albert Halls in Bolton. Everyone performing gave their services for free with all the money going to charity. Performers included Mark Radcliffe, Johnny Vegas, John Shuttleworth, Badly Drawn Boy, Archie Kelly and meself, the whole thing being ably compered by my good friend and Hovis buddy Bob Williamson.
Here’s a pic from the night of Bob and Johnny Vegas:

*pic*

2006

KELLOGGS NUTRIGRAIN - It’s always satisfying to be asked to do an advert, especially one like this – a voiceover using animatronics so that real animals seem to be speaking as if human. So, I did the audition, did the recall, and went to a studio in London to record two scripts. The next thing is they don’t want you after all, and here’s a couple of hundred quid for the studio fee & bye-bye. Must have been someone from Kelloggs who decided that, so I’m pleased not to buy their sugary shite any more on principle (not entirely true, since I never bought it before).

RADIO LANCASHIRE - After hosting many Morning Shows and doing four of my own series – that’s it. That BBC local radio station isn’t employing freelance people any more. After all, the Beeb has to pay Jonathan Ross six million pounds a year, and the money for him and similarly serious salaries has to come from somewhere.
Still got all the programmes though, for I recorded them myself. I’ll make some of them into CDs, and some of them would suit being posted on the site as podcasts. Watch this space!

SHORTS FOR ALL OCCASIONS - When I got to 184 one verse poems I asked Gary Hogg (of Fairly Truthful Tales) to draw cartoons for a quarter of them. This way I could make a book of 96 pages and every double page could contain 4 verses and one cartoon. You can see pages from it by clicking on the “Books & CDs” link.

CONCERTS - I decided not to include the singing side too much in these memoirs, or it would all get too long. Suffice to say the village halls, theatres and folk clubs were really enjoyable this year. If you came to one – many thanks! Hope you enjoyed it too.

2007

IT’S ADAM & SHELLEY - A couple of days after I saw Steely Dan in concert at Aintree, I played an irate hotel manager in a funny sketch from a BBC3 series featuring this talented twosome. Involves a naked bum shot at the end, but all is revealed (heh) if you watch it from the beginning:

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MANCHESTER MONOLOGUES - Along with actors Noreen Kershaw and David Crellin I was asked to pick a short list of entries in the Manchester Monologues competition. “Monologue” in this context didn’t refer to the humorous rhyming sort, but to a “Talking Heads” style narration.

At the finals showcase in the futuristic looking URBIS building in Manchester the selected entries were performed, some by the authors, and some by us. I compered it as well, doing selections from my “Shorts For All Occasions” to break the ice. Great night all round.

BBC R4 DRAMA - Did an episode in a series called “Take Away” which charted a particular shop in Yorkshire throughout the ages. Each episode was a chapter portraying the different nationalities of families that had owned the premises (Italian, Asian etc from the 1930s to the present). This episode was “Patty’s Patties” featuring the West Indian owners, and I played the electrician who fell in love with Patty, the owner.

CONCERTS - Apart from my own gigs, I think the Oldham Tinkers and I had the best year ever. We did seven of our favourite venues (Burnley, Morecambe, Oldham atc) and loved each one.

2008

A MEMENTO FROM YORK - Here’s a cameo interview with me from an evening in 2008 at the Black Swan folk club in York. It was recorded & edited by Oliver Crocker and Mervyn Cumming - thanks, boys!

click here: “THE BOLTON BULLFROG” on YouTube

THE LONGS AND THE SHORTS OF IT - My second book of one verse poems. The title came about because some of the poems aren’t just four lines long. Certain situations need eight or twelve lines at times – otherwise I like to say it’s similar but different to the first book.

Click here to see sample pages

WESTHOUGHTON FOLK CLUB- After having won the BBC R2 award for best folk club, and running for 35 years, Patty Batty decided to call it a day. All the stalwart punters were invited to a celebratory bash at the magnificent Rivington Barn, and I was asked to compere the event. I had the great pleasure of introducing the likes of Maddy Prior, Vin Garbutt, Julie Matthews, Phil Beer, Strawhead, and the original line up of the Oldham Tinkers for a truly memorable send off. Ceilidh by Rogues Gallery was great.

for loads more pictures go to http://www.folkclub.org.uk/index.html

BBC R4 DRAMA - Took part in “Worktown”, which is a new drama based on the extensive range of photos that Humphrey Spender took in Lancashire for the 1930s “Mass Observation” campaign. The writer, Michael Symmons Roberts, wrote the dialogue using his imagination whilst looking at Humphrey’s evocative pictures. As well as being on Radio 4, this was also made into a multimedia presentation with new photos alongside the originals.
You can view the original photos at the website for Bolton Museum:

Mass Observation Images

ENGLISH INTERNATIONAL: 3 CD BOXED SET - Roots Records released a sumptuous 3CD boxed set with a booklet about the history of the English concertina.

Many historic recordings from wizard box squeezers throughout the ages and around the world are included, as well as works specially recorded. Fans of the instrument will appreciate this labour of love.
Here’s “A Civil Affair” – one of the 3 tracks from me on the album:
If you’d like one, and would like to save a tenner, (£15 instead of £25) then email me!

WOOD & WRIGLEY - Phil Wood, Manchester radio presenter, and I began recording daft sketches for inclusion on his Sunday programme. Here’s one such – it’s what you might call a turbo driven piece: “The Animals Of Farting Wood”

BRASSED OFF - Was asked to play the part of Jim in Kevin Shaw’s production at Oldham Coliseum. So, when we arranged to do the 9th Tinkers/Wrigley concert there for 2nd October, little did I know I’d be making 44 trips there during August and September.
Jim & Harry have most of the daft lines (some pathos too) in the play, which was written from Mark Herman’s screenplay. Every performance had a live brass band on stage (different band every week) and the miming down the instrument I perfected during Victoria Wood’s “Brassed Up” sketch came in very useful for the scenes when we were part of the band.

*pic*

SOULED OUT - During the run of “Brassed Off” I nipped over to Stoke to do a part in the cinema film “Souled Out”. I’m an irate factory manager who sacks two of his employees for caring more about soul music and Wigan Casino than their jobs.

MASSIVE - Played another irate character – this time the owner of a video shop who doesn’t really want to sell a camera to the daft lads. Six part series, including Ralf Little and Johnny Vegas.

Here’s the clip:
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BBC R4 DRAMA - Played the part of Vodicka in Christopher Reason’s adaptation of “The Good Soldier Svejk”. Svejk was played by Sam Kelly, with whom I’d last worked on “Barbara” in 2001.

2009

May saw the release of the CD “Every Song Tells A Story”. You can hear a sample of every track by clicking the “CDs & BOOKS” link, and here’s an animated feature specially made by Huckleberry Films for the track “Hobo’s Blues“:
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Thanks to Dave & Caroline! This came about when they were asked by Friends of the Earth to make a short feature called “Soy Story” in which I play a bull who travels to South America so that he can answer his daughter’s questions about where their food comes from. It features hip hop artist Scroobius Pip and has played at the LIVEstock comedy event in London and Yale environmental film festival in the USA.
Here it is:
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Hear me talking with Mike Harding on his BBC R2 folk programme in July:

INTERVIEW WITH MIKE HARDING