This is a lengthy article- I make no apologies, because this has been a long and hugely rewarding career- and Roy Barraclough is set to appear on our screen this year- 2016.
Here’s to you, Roy!
Roy Barraclough MBE was born in Preston, Lancashire in 1935. He spent twelve years as a draughtsman in a preston engineering factory,, whilst appearing in local amateur dramatics, spending time backstage at the Grand Theatre in Blackpool and then working at the age of 27 as a holiday camp pianist and entertainments officer on the Isle Of Wight.
The lure of Pantomime drew him to his first professional panto that same year.
1962 Cinderella: Palace Theatre Blackburn. This was the first pantomime for Roy who played Broker’s Man. The star of the show was comedian Jack Storey as Buttons. The Ugly Sisters were Stan Tate & Terry Bramley, with Alan Hayes as Baron Hardup. Pat Kay was Cinderella, with Mary Booth & Pat Eakers as Principal Boys.
Jack Storey’s catch phrase was “I told you, didn’t I?” Jack was a revered pantomime dame- he played Mother Goose at the Alhambra Bradford in 1952. A Lancashire comedian based in Blackpool, he also presented shows and Music Hall.
The panto featured a canine speciality “Pinder’s Twenty Performing Poodles” with Jacko the Monkey.
1963 Aladdin: Palace Theatre Blackburn . Roy was to return the following year to play The Grand Vizier.His first review in “The Stage” newspaper said:”Roy Barraclough was a suitably dignified Grand Vizier”.
The Pantomime starred Albert Modley, as Wishee Washee.
Born 1901 Albert Modley was known as “Lancashire’s Favourite Yorkshireman”, and his catchphrase “eeeeehh! Isn’t it grand to be daft?!”
Albert Modley: He made his first panto appearance at the Bradford Alhambra in 1932.
Billy Eaves played Widow Twankey. It was his 30th Pantomime. Abanazar was Gerrard Lloyd, with Stan Tate & Brian Whittaker as Chinese Policemen. Frank Mason played Emperor and Enid Craven was Aladdin. She sang an interesting selection of songs including “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “Ave Maria Wedding” to her Princess, Barbara Taylor.
The speciality this year was the Crazy Car Chase, on film with Albert Modley and Billy Eaves in front of the screen.
1964 The New Theatre, Huddersfield: Babes In The Wood. Hylda Baker played Nurse Maisie. Roy was her accompanist. Roy was already member of the repertory at Huddersfield. Hylda Baker was brought in as a “Guest Star”.
Roy recalls: The company was run by the rather eccentric Nita Valerie (the original Ena Sharples in Coronation Street – she was replaced by Violet Carson). Again Roy worked on stage, behind the scenes and in the pit.
Roy Remembers: “It was, as ever there, rather odd. I was playing piano and next to me was a variety act called ‘Freda and her Singing Poodle’. The poodle used to howl from the top of the organ! Nita couldn’t really afford to pay Hylda so she kept giving her bits of furniture from her house. She used to come on and tell me, over the footlights, what she’d been given that week. When she said she’d had the tall boy I didn’t know if it was furniture or someone from the chorus!”
Hylda Baker was an enormous star. Born in 1905 she was at this stage approaching sixty, and had achieved fame and fortune (often the fortune was lost. Her chauffer once literally drove off with her money) and had recently starred in the film “Saturday Night and Sunday Morning” with Albert Finney.
If you would like to see Hylda’s act on “The Good Old Days” take a look here:
Hylda’s variety act involved her friend Cynthia- “She knows, you know”- played by a very tall man. The last being Mathew Kelly. A few years after this panto Hylda was to soar to further heights starring in her series “Nearest & Dearest”, in 1968 (The year she appeared in the film “Oliver!”- which ran for years, and then “Not On Your Nelly” which ran from 1974.
In this “Babes In The Wood” Nita Valerie played a “Fairy/Policewoman” called Annie Awful in the panto, and was a comedy foil to Hylda Baker. The Dame- in this panto a Baroness was Jimmy Slater. He specialised in glamorous sequinned gowns.
Jimmy Slater was a Yorkshire Dame-Female Impersonator since the 1920’s, when he had appeared in shows at Great Yarmouth’s Britannia Pier. A veteran of the famous “Splinters” all male reviews (he toured in them for seven years) and the post war “Soldiers In Skirts”review, he was by 1964 a Dame comedian who also presented Summer shows and pantomimes at Skegness and Cleethorpes. One of his specialities was to impersonate Sophie Tucker- always good for panto!
Billy Merrick played Baron, alongside Al Paige, Monty Bond, Jimmy Malbourne, with Principal Boy Robin Hood played by Lynn Valentine and Mara Laine as Maid Marion.The Audrey Spencer Young Ladies provided the dancing.
Following this Panto Roy joined the Theatre In The Round Repertory at Stoke.
1966 Oldham Coliseum: Cinderella
1967 Oldham Coliseum: Dick Whittington
1968 Oldham Coliseum: Robinson Crusoe.
Roy’s television career had blossomed in 1969 and his face was becoming well known. His success working with Les Dawson on television (see details of Roy’s Television career following this Pantomime section).
in 1972 Roy first played Alec Gilroy in “Coronation Street”, and the creation of Cissie & Ada In the early ‘seventies led to his first Dame Role.
There is section on Roy’s Television career that includes more on Cissie and Ada. For now here’s a small sample!
Cissie & Ada at the Aerobics!
1973 Oldham Coliseum. Jack & The Beanstalk. This was Roy’s first dame role. The panto featured John Jardine and Peter Dudley as Broker’s Men, and Meg Johnson as Principal Boy.
Roy’s Dame Cobbledick refers to his character in Children’s Television series “Pardon My Genie” in which he played shop owner Mr Cobbledick.
Talking about this first appearance as Panto Dame Roy said:
“My very first panto dame role was at Oldham with John directing. It was a natural progression from the Cissie and Ada routines which I was by then doing on TV with Les Dawson. Of course, I’d appeared many times in pantomime, but in other roles. I think my first appearance was in Blackburn alongside comedian Albert Modley and over the years I’ve had the pleasure of appearing with all kinds of people from Rod Hull and Emu to Barbara Windsor. When done well, panto can be a magical experience
1974 Oldham Coliseum: Robinson Crusoe. This panto included Peter Dudley, John Jardine and Jim Whelan.
1975 Roy wrote the pantomime Cinderella for the Oldham Coliseum, but did not appear in it.It featured John Jardine and Paula Tilbrook as Ugly Sisters, with Robert Kingswell.
No Panto appearances were allowed by Coronation Street bosses during employment, but Roy had a clause that allowed him to appear in Musicals or plays, and films
1976 Roy appeared in the film “The Slipper and The Rose”- The Story of Cinderella.
1976 The Charter Theatre, Preston: Aladdin. This Duggie Chapman Production starred Roy Barraclough as Widow Twankey and Belfast Comedian Frank Carson as Wishee Washee. Roy was given a notice in “The Stage”- it said:
“Roy Barraclough has a rich vein of comedy to match his magnificent £1,000 wardrobe, fashioned exclusively for him by Oldham couturier Charles Alty….”
Beryl Johnson played The Princess opposite Gloria Gee as Principal Boy.
The Director was Tom Howard, who also played Abanazar. Kenneth Palmer was Emperor with Chris Corbally and Steve Hutch as Chinese Policemen.
Roy remembers that panto alongside Frank Carson who could never remember Widow Twankey’s name so always addressed him as Roy on stage!
1978 Bradford Alhambra: Babes In The Wood. This was Roy’s first pantomime with Les Dawson. In this panto Les played Nurse Ada. Roy played one of the Robbers, alongside veteran comic Eli Woods. Peter Goodwright played the Squire, and singing star Tammy Jones played Maid Marion.
Due to the huge popularity of the “Sez Les” characters “Cissie & Ada”, Roy made a brief appearance as the Robber’s sister, “Cissie” so that Les and Roy could perform their Cissie & Ada routine. Roy recalls the season- “It was a dreadful winter and half the cast couldn’t get through the snow so we were thin on the ground – Robin Hood had to hang himself most nights!”
On Christmas Day, 1978 the BBC Broadcast “Parkinson On Panto”. The Radio Times described the show:
Michael Parkinson , with his special guest Arthur Askey , explores the curious crazy world of this unique seasonal entertainment, with demonstration from some of its greatest performers including Kings of Slapstick: Charlie Cairoli and Company
There’s nothing like a Dame: Les Dawson
Following in father’s footsteps: Lauri Lupino Lane
With a farmyard surprise: Little and Large
The Prince of Principal Boys: Pat Kirkwood
Presenting a watery diversion: Stan Stennett also featuring Roy Barraclough
George Truzzi and The Harry Stoneham Show Band.
Director Ian Hamilton Producer John Fisher.
Below is a link to Charlie Cairoli’s contribution to that programme.
George Truzzi Partnered Lauri Lupino Lane in many pantomimes at this time. John Fisher wrote the excellent book on comedy called “Funny Way To Be A Hero” published 1973 (Foreword by Michael Parkinson) and reprinted 2013.
A note from Nigel: The “Watery Diversion” with Stan Stennett and Roy was a “Curries” water speciality. Stan used it several times in panto, and it became known as “The Balmy Baron’s Bathroom” at one point. It was stored for years beneath the New Theatre Cardiff.
1979 Theatre Royal Norwich: Cinderella. Roy played Ugly Sister “Cissie” to Robin Denys’s “Prissy”. The pantomime featured Paul Henry as Buttons, Yvonne Marsh as Prince Charming, Margaret Wedlake as Fairy Godmother and Anna Lou and Maria.
Paul Henry played “Benny” in ATV’s “Crossroads”, and off sales that year included “Benny Woolly Hats” on sale in the foyer! Yvonne Marsh was a premier Principal Boy in pantomime. She married the Theatre Royal’s producer Dick Condon, The speciality act was Anna Lou and Maria. It was an illusion act when Anna Lou (Marian Lovering) and her assistant would end their act by stretching out their arms, and dozens of coloured doves flew from the back of the theatre, guided by the follow spot and landed on them!
Nigel Ellacott writes: I performed a pantomime with them when the follow spot operator got lax and the light veered to the proscenium arch. The birds flew towards the stage and veered sharply, with a few landing on the audience! A great act, and totally unique!
1980 King’s Theatre Southsea. Emu In Pantoland. Roy starred as Dame alongside Rod Hull and Emu.The Stage newspaper said : “Roy Barraclough steers a successful way in getting his laughs without resorting to some of the uglier trends of such characters in recent years”
A local radio presenter, Anton Darby played King, with Dennis Gilmore and Marty Swift as The Robbers. Marty was also a Dame in pantomimes for many years following. Laura Hartong played “Beauty”, opposite Principal Boy Jack played by Ian Calvin. Ian was in the first production of “Les Miserables” in The West End, and a popular Panto Prince. The Sheriff was played by Gerald Martin, with Freddie Stevens as The Wizard.
1981 Blackpool Grand : Emu In Pantoland. The same pantomime as the previous year. Once again Roy starred as dame with Rod Hull & Emu as themselves.
Jack Haig played King, Richard Barnes was Jack alongside Andrea Kealy as Princess Beauty. The Robbers were as previously, Marty Swift and Denis Gilmore, with Gerald Martin as Sheriff and Freddie Stevens. It was directed by Ralph Tobert.
1982 Davenport Theatre, Stockport. Jack & The Beanstalk with Les Dawson.
Les played Dame Ada with Roy Barraclough as “Cissie”, described as “A preposterous vegetable fairy, waving outsize carrots and leeks instead of a wand!”
The cast included Lenny Windsor, The Half Wits, with Martin Beaumont as the King and Patti Gold and Beverely Andrews as Principal Boy & Girl. The speciality was a puppet act by Roger Stevenson.Roy recalled: “They couldn’t afford to pay us so Les refused to go on. They turned up the heating and went out selling ice creams until they had enough money to get him to go on!”
1983 Blackpool Grand Theatre: Aladdin. Roy appeared as Widow Twankey . The pantomime was written and directed by comedian Freddie “Parrotface” Davies.Stan Boardman played Wishee Washee, with veteran variety star Cedric Monarch (of “The Monarchs” musical and comedy speciality) as The Emperor.
Stage described Roy – “A real show stealer as Widow Twankey. A perfect pantomime dame, always funny and always the centre of attraction”.
The Stage also noted this was Roy’s Tenth year as a Pantomime Dame.
The Chinese policemen were played by (Barry) Cheese & (Mike) Onion.Leslie Melville was Abanazar. He recalled that he had started his career as a Butlin’s Redcoat, employed by Freddie Davies who was (in 1961) The Ents Officer for Butlins Metropole, Blackpool.
Malcolm Dixon was the Grand Vizier. The pantomime was running at 3 hours when stage reviewed it!
1984 Swansea Grand Cinderella : Roy played Glorious Gloria and Robin Denys played Slender Glenda, The Ugly Sisters with Paul Henry as Buttons, Caroline Berry (Cinderella) Menna Trussler as Fairy Godmother. Jonathan Kiley (now a director of Qdos) played Dandini with Mark Bond as Prince Charming.It was directed by Dudley Stevens.
Roy had starred in “A Bedfull Of Foreigners” at Swansea Grand four years previously.
1985 Stockport Davenport Theatre: Aladdin AND Nottingham Theatre Royal Aladdin. In Stockport Roy played Widow Twankey to John Inman’s Aladdin- John was not playing Dame that season- His “Mr Humphrey’s character from “Are You Being Served” became Aladdin.
The cast of “Aladdin” at Stockport had John Inman playing Aladdin, Roy Barraclough as Widow Twankey with Jack Douglas (of Carry On Fame) as Ananazar. Janette Beverley was the Princess, and a favourite of John Inman’s- character actor Nicholas Brent as Emperor.He usually played Demon King to John Inman’s “Mother Goose”. The pantomime was directed by Bill Roberton.
At the end of the Stockport Pantomime, Roy was asked to go on to Nottingham to replace Billy Dainty who was ill-with one day’s rehearsal- to play Widow Twankey opposite Barbara Windsor.The Panto also starred Jinny Cricket and Jack Haig.
Roy remembers: “I played Widow Twankey to John Inman’s Aladdin at Stockport and on the last weekend received a call from the Theatre Royal Nottingham where Barbara Windsor was playing Aladdin. Billy Dainty was playing Twankey there but he wasn’t well and they asked if I’d take over so I finished in Stockport on the Saturday and went on in Nottingham on the Monday. It might have been the same role but it was a completely different script – anyway, we did it and I finished the run there.”
1986 Dartford Orchard Theatre : Babes In The Wood. Roy played Nurse Dottie Dettol. The panto also starred Blue Peter’s Peter Duncan as Robin Hood, with Paul Darrow as The Sheriff of Nottingham. Ken Goodwin and Alan Bodenham were the Good & Bad Robbers. Andrew Robley played Will Scarlett.
Peter Duncan filmed some of the rehearsals and performance for “Blue Peter”. Here it is, including his cooking scene with Roy Barraclough as Nurse Dottie.
1992-1995 Roy takes a break from Coronation Street
A Corrie Compilation!
1992 Wolverhampton Grand Theatre: Mother Goose. Roy played the title role with Andrew O’Connor. Gordon Warnecke played the Demon Of Discontent, with Lucy Benjamin as Jill, and local Black Country comedian Tommy Mundon as The Squire Of Dudley.Micky Silver was Priscilla The Goose.
The press described Roy as “The very essence of tradition”
1994 Alhambra Bradford: Aladdin. Roy played Widow Augusta Twankey. With Billy Pearce as Aladdin, Lewis Collins in his first panto Baddie role as Abanazar, Richard De Vere & Nicholas Smith as Emperor.
Nicholas Smith with Roy
The panto also featured Claire Cattini as Princess, James Welsh as The Genie, (Karl) Magee and (Steve) Mooney as Chinese Policemen and Marc Lawlor as Slave Of The Ring, and the Acromaniacs. It was Directed by Kevin Bishop.
In 1994 Roy Barraclough appeared in Radio 4’s “Death Of An Ugly Sister”, a thriller starring Roy and Paul Shane as The Sisters.
Roy’s Last Pantomime Season:
1995 Manchester Palace. Aladdin: Roy Played Widow Twankey again with Billy Pearce playing Aladdin. Richard De Vere played Emperor. Roy actually replaced TV’s “Mr T” in the show. He was due to play Genie Of The Lamp but was unwell, and didn’t arrive in the UK for rehearsals.
Mr T as Genie
He replaced Mr T, who was unwell at the last minute at Manchester Palace Pantomime. Mr T,known as B A Baracus in the hit TV series “The A Team” had previous played Genie in Aladdin at The Liverpool Empire in 1991 with Bradley Walsh and Richard De Vere. The Dame in this had been Wyn Calvin.
“They had Billy Pearce and Mr T in Aladdin. Well, Mr T didn’t arrive in the UK so they asked me to take over with two days’ notice. It was a bit of a nightmare – of course Mr T was playing genie so another actor came in for that, the actor playing Twankey graciously stepped aside and in I went. In fact it was too much and I wasn’t well. I shouldn’t have done it really and that was the last panto I did. That was 1995.”
This pantomime at The Palace was playing opposite the musical “Pickwick” starring Sir Harry Secombe and Ruth Madoc. With Mr T out of action the management headed by Barrie Stead needed a new star name on the bill. This was why Roy was called in at short notice. It was directed by Television producer Kevin Bishop.
James Welsh took over Mr T’s role, and played it as a “ funky rapping Genie, to great acclaim”.Claire Cattini played Princess to Billy Pearce’s Aladdin, with Mooney & McGee as The Chinese Policemen. Richard De Vere brought along “Schnorbitz” the stage dog formerly owned by Bernie Winters, and created the flying carpet illusion.
The Stage declared Roy Barraclough “One of the best dames in the business!”
There’s nothing like a dame! An interview with Roy Barraclough Bolton News 1996.
THERE’S nothing like a dame – particularly when she’s played by one of the best in the business, Roy Barraclough.Roy, also known as Alec Gilroy, the erstwhile landlord of the Rover’s Return in Coronation Street, is strutting his stuff as Widow Twankey in a superb production of Aladdin at the Palace Theatre, Manchester.Billy Pearce plays Aladdin and Bolton magician Richard De Vere is the Emperor of Peking.
Roy joined the cast only one week before opening night after the American star Mr T had to pull out because of illness. There was a casting re-shuffle and Roy agreed to play the dame even though he had booked a holiday. “It was a decision that had to be made quickly because everyone was in such a panic, ” Roy told me.
“I was set to sail to America on the QE2 . It was a big ambition of mine to see New York at Christmas and I had booked lots of shows, but this show had to go on and I went on with it.”
Roy played in Aladdin with Billy Pearce in the 1994/5 season at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford, but there were some script changes and new entrances which he had to learn quickly.
Having seen Aladdin, I was not surprised when Roy conceded that the number of costume changes he has make the part very hard work. “It’s harder off stage than on,” he said. “I’m on the fourth floor at the theatre and the lift is not always available.”
The final costume he wears is so cumbersome – it’s a tea-table complete with crockery – that it has to be “flown down” to the wings for the waiting Roy.”And it’s so heavy,” Roy said. “At the end of the show I’m more than ready to get off the stage.”
Matinees and evening shows make panto a tough option for performers. But despite suffering flu at Christmas and New Year, Roy never missed a show.
“My voice just got progressively deeper with each performance,” he said. Roy has played every dame in the business. In 1992 he finally played Mother Goose – the only dame that had eluded him. It’s one of his favourite “dames” “It is very much an acting part,” he explained.
His hilarious Cissie and Ada routines with the late comedian Les Dawson (Roy was Cissie) made him into what he describes as a “commercial dame” – a pull at the box office.
His is very much the traditional dame. There’s never any mistaking that Roy is a man dressed up as a woman – those hairy arms are a dead giveaway for a start!”I don’t like the “drag” artist approach to pantomime,” Roy said. “Panto costumes get more and more outrageous,” he said. “We think we are going over the top, but when I see what people are wearing in the street, I wonder!”
He summed up how children perceive the character with his tale of a little girl who came backstage at one panto and demanded to see the “lady man” – that was Roy as dame.
Preston-born Roy was brought up to love panto. “We had seasons when several different pantos were staged,” he said. “My parents took me to them all.”
Since leaving the permanent cast of Coronation Street in 1992, Roy‘s theatre work has included his outstanding performance in Feed, the story of a music hall artist, which was premiered at the Octagon. It was a huge success there before it went on tour to rave reviews but not always to full houses.
Roy also played an endearing and very funny Dr Watson to Robert Powell’s Sherlock Holmes in a musical and was due to star in Billy with Jason Donovan, but the musical never happened.”I’ve never really understood why the show did not go ahead and I was very disappointed because I was looking forward to appearing in it,” Roy said.
He’s done considerable TV work and most recently appeared in the hugely successful Coronation Street video. There’s another “Street” appearance soon and Roy admits it will be odd walking back into the Rovers and not seeing Bet (Julie Goodyear) behind the bar.
One project close to his heart is a play about the life story of Robb Wilton, written by Mike Craig, which Roy hopes will be staged.
It’s easy to imagine Roy as the lugubrious Liverpudlian comedian and master of digression, resting his chin in his hand and uttering those famous words: “The day war broke out…”
After Aladdin closes on February 17, Roy is looking forward to a well-earned rest. And his New Year resolution? “The way I’ve been feeling lately, just to keep alive,” was Roy‘s answer.
The children who have been enjoying watching the “lady man” doing his quick changes at the Palace and all his many fans won’t settle for just that. They want him to continue with the thing he does best – entertaining us all.
ROY BARRACLOUGH: THE SANTA YEARS!
Roy made a return to Coronation Street for another stint and in 1998 left for good.
“I then got to do some great things – I had retired really. But you know that’s the best time – when you don’t have to do it. I did the Mrs Bradley Mysteries with Dame Diana Rigg, Funland, All The Small Things … and The Boyfriend on stage. Then in 2005 Michael Rose asked if I’d like to play the title role in Santa Claus the Musical, a new production at Southampton with Gary Wilmot and Anita Dobson – it was great fun. I then got the MBE which was wonderful – I found out whilst shopping in M&S!”
Santa Claus : The Christmas Shows 2005-2009
Roy returned to the Christmas seasons of a new Musical, in Pantomime Style- “Santa Claus”, presented by Michael Rose, and David Morgan, with a book by Roger S Moss, and music and lyrics by Anthony England, who was Musical Director. Gary Wilmot wrote two additional musical numbers.
Roy was to star in the title role for three productions, followed by a sequel. The show premiered at Southampton.
Mayflower Southampton: Santa Claus 2005: Roy as Santa With Gary Wilmot and Anita Dobson. The show featured Hilary O’Neil and Christopher Ryan.
The press said: Roy Barraclough is the perfect Santa Claus and Gary Wilmot has the personality, charisma and experience to shine as his chief elf Joe. This true all-rounder sings well and has written two of the songs.
Anita Dobson is a marvellous Ice Queen, so full of confidence and the real menace to whip up an audience. Her entrances are spectacular and her recurring Ice Theme song is a gem.
The New Year’s Honours list of 2006 saw Roy Barraclough awarded the MBE for services to Theatre and to charity. Roy said at the time:
“I never in my wildest dream imagined I’d get one. It’s lovely. It’s like a pat on the back”
Prince Charles awarded Roy the honour at the investiture. Roy dedicated it to Les Dawson saying “I’m sorry Les isn’t here. He would have been very proud.”
The following Christmas “Santa Claus” transferred to Liverpool.
Liverpool Empire : Santa Claus 2006:
Danny McCall and Susie Blake joined Roy Barraclough in this production which also featured Stephanie Davis, Dan Starkey and Joanne Farrell. Once again Anthony England’s twelve piece orchestra and special effects were featured.
The press said: Containing everything a family-focused musical feast should, from dancing polar bears and singing reindeer, to several cute, cuddly penguins and the big man Santa himself (played by Coronation Street legend Roy Barraclough), the show certainly excels in all areas.
In 2007 the show was the Christmas Musical at Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre.
Birmingham Alexandra Theatre: Santa Claus 2007
Joining Roy in this production was Anita Dobson, Russ Spencer, Joanne Farrell, Dan Starkey,and Kim Ismay
The press said: Roy Barraclough’s dignified, formal Santa is a delight, especially in his chaste relationship with the efficient Ms Drift (Kim Ismay), which just might have gone somewhere when they were younger.
Roy Barraclough was Santa Claus and what a wonderful sight he was resplendent in his red coat and white beard. He was greeted with cheers from the audience and was undoubtedly the hit of the show. Roy suits the part and has a great rapport with all his helpers and was charming in “Young, Foolish and Fancy Free” accompanied by the lovely Ms Drift.
The Last Visit to the North Pole: In 2009 Michael Rose returned to the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton to present a sequel to the record breaking production. “A Pantomime To Warm Your Heart!”
Mayflower Theatre Southampton: Santa Claus-The Return of Jack Frost. 2009
Roy appeared once again as the definitive Santa Claus, with Stephen Mulhern as “Stephen- chief of Elves.” The role of Jack Frost was played by International ice skater and performer Robin Cousins, with Gladiator Sam Bond as his henchman “Thaw The Glaciator”. Marissa Dunlop played Chilli Fridge. It featured a flying dragon in addition to the many other stage effects.
The press said: Roy Barraclough, once the landlord of ‘the Rovers Return’, plays ‘Santa Claus’ and does so with a dignity that befits the gentleman in red and has many of the best comic lines.
Over fifty two years of performing, Roy Barraclough has had a plethora of Television, Film and Stage performances- If you’d like to take a look at Roy’s Television career- and the creation of the comedy gold that is Cissie and Ada, and information on his forthcoming “Are You Being Served” role this year- Please look below. Celebrate the incredible career of Roy Barraclough MBE!
Roy Barraclough: Television Appearances 1964-2016
Roy’s most recent television appearance is due to be shown on BBC this autumn. He will be playing Mr Grainger, the elder statesman behind the gentlemen’s counter at Grace Brothers, in the pilot of the newly re launched comedy “Are You Being Served” 2016.
Arriving for AYBS rehearsals at Salford with Sherrie Hewson
Below are some of the many television appearances Roy has made over the years.
Roy made his major Television debut in 1969 in the Yorkshire Television Soap, “Castlehaven”. He played Kathy Staff’s husband, Harry, alongside Gretchen Franklin and Sally James.
During the 60s and 70s he appeared in dozens of hit shows including Queenie’s Castle with Diana Dors, Z Cars, The Lovers, George and Mildred, Rising Damp,and Love Thy Neighbour.
The Lovers in 1970 starred Richard Beckinsale and Paula Wilcox. Roy appeared in the first episode.
Television occupied his time after the repertory seasons ended. “I’ve been very lucky there. I played my first role in Corrie in 1964 as a tour guide then I went back as a shop assistant, I played the chap who sold Stan Ogden his window cleaning round”.
in fact at one time I held the record for the actor who’d played the most different parts,” Roy explained.
CORONATION STREET was to play a long running part of Roy’s television career.
As tour guide, on a day trip to Castleton’s mines, to playing “I Spy Dwyer-in 1966 selling his window round to Hilda’s Stan, through his 1967 appearance as a vacuum cleaner demonstrator, and returning to Stan and Hilda Ogden’s lives as the salesman who sold them a bed!
His long running role as Alec Gilroy,- Twenty Two Years on our screens- first as Rita’s Littlewood’s club agent – Roy appeared from 1972 to 1992, returning in 1995, 1996 and in 1998 when Roy departed from the cobbles of Weatherfield .During this time Alec had become the landlord of The Rovers Return, and married the flamboyant Bet Lynch.
During the 60s and 70s he appeared in dozens of hit shows including Queenie’s Castle with Diana Dors, Z Cars, The Lovers, George and Mildred, and Rising Damp”
Cissie & Ada are born!
1972 “Sez Les”
In 1972 he was working at Yorkshire TV when an anxious producer hurried into the canteen and sought him out:
“They’d signed a new comedian and given him his own series but he didn’t like rehearsing and the actor they’d got to play his straight man had walked out so they asked if I’d step in. It was Les Dawson. We immediately hit it off – we were from the same sort of background I suppose. He was a very funny man. But he never rehearsed if he could help it. I worked alongside him from ’72 until he died in 1993. I miss him every day. Between takes we used to take off Norman Evans and his ‘Over the Garden Wall’ routine just to amuse the studio audience and one day the producer suggested we put it into the show. That’s how Cissie and Ada were born.”
Cissie Braithwaite and Ada Shufflebotham were performed by Les and Roy in full and glorious pantomime style- heaving bosoms, mouthing words that might possibly be salacious. Double entendre at every possible given moment.
Roy: “On your honeymoon Ada.. were you, you know.. virgo intacta?”
Les: “We were B&B like everyone else!”
Anything slightly risqué in Ada’s mind was dismissed with “ohh, mucky muck muck!”
The scenes ranged from touring an art gallery where the ladies are confronted by a generous nude statue of a Greek God, to discussing their holidays in Greece.
“Were you on the Acropolis?”
“I were never off it!”
“Did you have the shish kebabs?”
Pure comedy genius created originally as a bit of banter between Roy and Les and incorporated into the show’s warm up section.
Roy explained a bit more about how the characters came about during breaks in the studio recording of Sez Lez: “Les and I used to go into this routine because he was a big fan of Norman Evans (a 1940s variety and radio performer), as was I. So we used to go into this routine (and) the producer said, “That’s a brilliant idea. Why don’t you do that as a sketch and do the thing in drag?”
Here’s Roy explaining the birth of these two comedy legends:
At first both performers refused but decided to use the characters to ‘warm-up’ the live audience before the recording of each show, When they saw how well it went down they decided to add the characters to the series.
Here are a few excerpts of Cissie and Ada:
Cissie meets Ada at the Doctors.
Cissie and Ada are waitresses- Les however is more intent on corpsing Roy, and corpsing himself!
“Sez Les”and the Les Dawson Shows ran from 1969 to 1976, , the shows were “Dawson and Friends”, “The Dawson Watch” and “The Les Dawson Show”, along with extra festive delights such as”Les Dawson’s Christmas Box”, starring Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough.
Between 1972 and 1973 Roy became a part of a children’s comedy series that became a hit. “Pardon My Genie” starred Hugh Paddick, Ellis Jones and Roy Barraclough in a comedy written by Bob Block, who later achieved similar fame with “Rentaghost”.
Made for ITV- Thames Television, it retold the Aladdin tale in a modern setting, with Ellis Jones as “Hal Adden”, who daydreams his way through working for Roy’s character, Shop owner Mr Cobbledick. Hal finds a dusty old lamp and the genie, not always the most useful Djinn, and certainly very acerbic- was-played wonderfully by Hugh Paddick.
Hugh had found fame partnering Kenneth Williams in the classic hit radio series “Around The Horne” from 1965-68. He and Williams pushed the boundries of the BBC weekly as “Julian and Sandy”.
Roy remembers “Pardon My Genie”: I played a shop owner, Mr Cobbledick, who had a mischievous genie. It was a really popular show and because of that and Sez Les I was starting to be recognised a bit. Well, my friend John Jardine was running Oldham Rep by now and he asked if I’d like to write the annual panto with him and play dame. That was my first professional dame – in 1973. Alongside us were Meg Johnson and Peter Dudley. I then did another two there as dame.”
Nigel Ellacott appeared in “Mother Goose” with Ellis Jones a few years after the series ended at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry.Ellis played Idle Jack. Now in his early Seventies Ellis retains his connection with RADA. He joined it in 1993 and spent sixteen years as resident director.
With the continued success of Les Dawson’s Television Shows and Summer seasons, in 1974 The comedy writers Galton and Simpson wrote “Holiday With Strings” for Les, a one off sitcom involving Les being persuaded to take a flight by travel agent Frank Thornton (of “Are You Being Served” fame and later “Summer Wine”) and followed Les’s in flight antics with fellow passenger Roy Barraclough as a camp coal miner called Peregrine. “Are you going to Tossa”?
This one off inspired Galton & Simpson to create the series of weekly sitcoms in 1975 called “Dawson’s Weekly”, with Les and Roy.
During the next few decades, Roy was to appear on our screens as Alec Gilroy in “Coronation Street” in addition to theatre and radio work.
In 1977 Roy appeared in another Galton & Simpson playhouse “I Told You It Was Burt Reynolds” alongside Leonard Rossiter and Patricia Hayes.
1978 saw the cream of pantomime appearing in one studio when BBC presented “Parkinson on Panto” which starred Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough, legendary Principal Boy Pat Kirkwood, and comedy greats Lauri Lupino Lane along with George Truzzi, Stan Stennett and Charlie Caroili. What a bill!
Roy made an appearance in “Rising Damp” in 1978 with Leonard Rossiter, Frances De La Tour and Helen Fraser.. The episode was “Pink Carnations”.
1981 saw Roy appearing in “Strangers” and in “Chintz”, and in 1982 he appeared in “The Bounder”.
1983 Granada Television presented a one hour drama “Bingo”. It featured Roy Barraclough with Gwen Taylor and Benjamin Whitrow. In 1984 Roy appeared in “Foxy Lady”.
1986 Granda Television presented the epic serialisation of “Lost Empires”, starring Laurence Olivier and Colin Firth. Roy Barraclough played Alfred Bentwood in the opening episode.
1987 saw Roy as Hickory in the popular Thames Television Children’s Television programme “T Bag” with Elizabeth Estensen as the glamorous witch T Bag.
1994 “A Different Way Home” by Jimmy Chinn was broadcast as a Christmas Eve special by Granada. An Extract of this moving one man show can be seen on Youtube:
“A Different Way Home” began life as a Radio Play, before it was broadcast by Granada. In 1997 The Coliseum Theatre Oldham celebrated “60 Years Of Rep” with Roy Barraclough appearing in this two hander, and a tour in 2001 with Roy as both Leslie and Maureen taking in Bath, Coventry, Watford and Basingstoke.
1994 and another Granada TV Series- “Mother’s Ruin” starring Roy Barraclough as batchelor Leslie Flitcroft, dominated by his Mother, Kitty, played by Dora Bryan. It was written for Roy by John Stevenson. Roy appeared in “Peak Practice” this year also, as well as “Cadfael”.
1995- 1996 saw Roy’s return to Granada TV’s “Coronation Street”
Roy appeared in “Coronation Street” during 1998.
1999 was the year Roy did “Casualty” appearing as Arthur Lyle, and he made a TV Movie called “Bostock’s Cup”.
After leaving “The Street” Roy appeared alongside Dame Diana Rigg in 2000 in an episode of the BBC Series “Mrs Bradley’s Mysteries” called “Death At The Opera.”
Roy played Dr. Simms, and was in good company- two other “Doctors” were in that episode- Peter Davidson and David Tennant! The series was shown worldwide.
2001 Roy appeared in “Barbara” playing Vernon. He also made a return visit to “Peak Practice”.
Roy played Harold Waterman in BBC TV’s 2004 “A Thing Called Love” opposite Paul Nicholls as Painter and decorator Gary in search of love, and Michelle Dotrice.
The same year (2004) Roy appeared in a couple of episodes of BBC Scotland’s comedy sketch show “Revolver”. The show engaged almost every sit com and comedy star from “Are You Being Served” to “It Aint Half Hot Mum” with “Sez Les” in between. The comedy sketches were at times surreal, and Roy Barraclough bouncing on a trampoline in one sketch was certainly a first!
In 2005 Roy Barraclough played Roy Ellis, Station Master in ITV’s popular series “Heartbeat”, and that same year (2005) appeared alongside his friend Kathy Staff (they first appeared in “Castlehaven” together thirty six years before) in The Last Of The Summer Wine. He also appeared that year in “Holby City”.
“Funland” was a comedy thriller from BBC3 in 2005. This popular series set in Blackpool featured Roy Barraclough alongside Kris Marshall and Frances Barber.
2008 saw Roy appear in “Doctors”, “Fairy Tales” and “The Slammer”.
Roy appeared as The Vicar in Debbie Horsfield’s “All The Small Things” in 2009. It starred Sarah Lancashire and Neil Pearson, and followed the story of a choir master in a rural town.
2012 and 2013 saw Roy playing Maurice in the two series of BBC’s “Last Tango In Halifax”, which starred former “Coronation Street” residents Anne Reid, and Sarah Lancashire joining Derek Jacobi.
Roy described the series :The romance between Anne and Derek’s characters is so sweet and it’s very unusual for dramas these days to show a love story between pensioners. It’s like a dream for them to fall in love all over again so many years later… Sally Wainwright is a lovely writer. I remember some episodes of Coronation Street she’d done years ago when I was on the Street. Alan and Celia have some great one-liners and humour, but there are some quite dark moments too – cars getting blown up, people getting beaten up, affairs and such-like. It all adds up to make a wonderful show.”
In 2015 Roy appeared alongside Matt Lucas in a television Silent Comedy- “Pompidou”.
Now 80 Roy says that his days on stage are over.
“In panto I used to do 15 costume changes a show – I always liked to do it properly. I used to do the bathroom routine with water shooting out of the loo and all that … I couldn’t do that now. I’ve just been tempted to play Mr Grainger in the one-off special revival of Are You Being Served? this year but that’ll be it I should think. I look back over 56 years of work – most of which has been a pleasure – and I’m grateful for all those chances”
2016 In his Eighty-First year Roy Barraclough MBE will be appearing on BBC1 shortly, in the much publicised re-imagining of a BBC classic. The pilot of the remake of the popular comedy show “Are You Being Served” will be on our television screens this year, with Roy Barraclough as Mr Grainger, Senior head of Menswear at Grace Brothers Department Store. His counter directly opposite that of Mrs Slocombe, The Head of Ladies Wear, played by Sherrie Hewson.
Joining Roy and Sherrie will be John Challis, Mathew Horne, Jason Watkins, Kayode Ewumi, Arthur Smith and Nicky Wardley.
This appearance will mark 56 years of performing, and 52 years since Roy’s first television appearance, and 47 years since his debut star role opposite his friend, Kathy Staff in the YTV series, “Castlehaven”.
Roy Barraclough: Theatre & Film
After leaving his job at the Isle Of Wight, and his first pantomime at Blackburn, Roy then applied to join the repertory company at Huddersfield.
The company was run by the rather eccentric Nita Valerie (the original Ena Sharples in Coronation Street – she was replaced by Violet Carson). Again Roy worked on stage, behind the scenes and in the pit. He was Stage manager for two weeks, and then continued at the Rep as an actor. He was there for eighteen months.
Following his stint at Huddersfield he joined the Theatre in the Round at Stoke alongside Ben Kingsley and Robert Powell.
In the mid-1960s he joined Oldham Repertory Company alongside such people as Kenneth Alan Taylor, Barbara Mullaney (now Knox),Eileen Derbyshire, Anne Kirkbride, Peter Dudley and Dora Bryan.
“We rehearsed one play in the day whilst performing another at night plus we were expected to join the audience in the bar at the end of each show. It was exhausting at times but superb training. I never went to drama school – that’s how we trained in those days,” he said.
The stories of Roy and some of his fellow actors at the Oldham Coliseum Theatre have been told by Mark llewellyn in his book “They Started Here!”
With his Television career starting to bring him recognition he performed the pantomimes at the Coliseum Oldham in the early and mid ‘Seventies, playing his first Dame.
In 1976 Roy played The Tailor in the film “The Slipper and The Rose”, directed by Bryan Forbes. It told the Cinderella story, and had basically the “Who’s Who” of Theatre stars playing roles and cameos. The stars were Richard Chamberlain and Gemma Craven, with Annette Crosby as Fairy Godmother. Amongst the cream of British actors were Kenneth More, Margaret Lockwood, Dame Edith Evans, and newly arrived from RADA, Sherrie Hewson as one of Cinderella’s step-sisters!
Sherrie Hewson in “Slipper & The Rose” Right hand Picture. Centre.
Sherrie and Roy were to meet on the street- “Coronation Street” and reunite forty years later for the “Are You Being Served” remake for the BBC in 2016.
Roy’s other films include “Car Trouble” with Julie Walters and “24 Hour Party People”.
Roy’s volume of theatre work is vast, and here are just some of the productions he has been in.
The Rise & Fall of Little Voice- The Royal Exchange Manchester.
Death Of A Salesman Sheffield Crucible
Spring and Port Wine West Yorkshire Playhouse
The Old Order Birmingham Rep
Staircase Manchester Library Theatre
With Kenneth Alan Taylor
The Price Haymarket Theatre, Leicester
Feed Octogon Theatre, Bolton.
“Feed” was written for Roy Barraclough by Tom Elliot, one of the Coronation Street script writers. It won The Best New Play Award and won Roy Best Actor Award.
Ward Games Library Theatre Manchester
Wicked Cooks Watford Palace Theatre
A Different Way Home Watford Palace, Theatre Royal Bath and tour
A Different Way Home Coliseum Theatre, Oldham.
National tours include Roy’s musical debut as Herbie in “Gypsy” at the Crucible Sheffield, “The Boyfriend”, “Sherlock Holmes- The Musical” (as Doctor Watson. Bristol Old Vic & Tour) and the three versions of “Santa Claus” The Musical that Roy appeared in.
That is an enormous body of work on stage, film, television, radio and of course a huge contribution to the world of Pantomime. We look forward to seeing Roy Barraclough MBE on our screens this year- Roy- all of use here at Its Behind You salute you!