“Keeping My Balls In The Air”- The Book Launch!
Paul Elliott & me, along with Andrew Ryan, Jan Hunt & Jonathan Kiley
Sunday 24th June 2018
A really lovely day celebrating Paul Elliott’s 60 years in the Business of Show, and the launch of his book “Keeping My Balls In The Air”..The random memoirs of a Theatre Producer. The title, by the way, was suggested by Rupert Everett. The book is a great read- it takes the lid of the Business behind Show Business, and gives an insight into the world of the Theatre Producer. Not A Theatre Producer, but THE Theatre Producer.
Alfie Harrison with Ann Marie and Brian Conley. Lesley Joseph with Paul
Paul has produced shows worldwide. Starting in 1958 he presented a rep season at Rhyl, shows at the Pier Theatre Llandudno (Its no longer there, if you’re thinking of looking!) and on through 45 years of top pantomimes, earning him the accolade “KING OF PANTO”, following in the footsteps of Laidler, Wylie Tate and Emile Littler- he produced a staggering 482 pantomimes! I am so grateful Peter Robbins and I got to share in a few of those from 1982 onwards!
Jane Danielle, Me, Jan Hunt, AndrewRyan, David Ian
The day was a glorious celebration, a meeting of old mates, and a chance to sit outside on a beautiful sunny day, fed and watered (for water read champagne!) and to be regaled with stories and anecdotes- some that you will find in this brilliant no holds barred expose of life upon the wicked stage- from Paul the Producers point of view!
LJ Elliott with Linda Hayden (Mrs Paul Elliott). Paul with top agent Barry Burnett.
Paul started his career as an actor, appearing with his best friend Peter Byrne in the popular long running “Dixon Of Dock Green”, before persuading Peter to join him in his pantomime company- they created “E&B” Productions- For Elliott & Byrne.
sadly we all attended Peter Byrne’s funeral last week. He would have so enjoyed today’s celebrations, meeting up with so many old friends.
Carole Todd and Roger Hannah
For me, spending twenty-eight years of Sister with first E&B , then E&B &AMG, which became Qdos (Hope you are following that!) it was a chance to catch up with the Panto Family that was created through doing Paul’s shows. The whole day felt like a family gathering, and that is exactly what it was. There was Paul, who produced his first panto in 1968, in the same room as Jan Hunt, who appeared in that show, with the Director, John De Lannoy- all recalling that eventful season in Hull that led to say many more.
Ray and Linda Cooney getting their copy of the book signed.
A chance for me to meet up again with Mrs Elliott- or Linda Haydn as she is- Linda played Prince Charming in my very first panto for Paul in Stevenage, and seeing Jane Danielle- Dandini with us for several years, to Robin Asquith who was Brokers Man alongside Ian Botham when we were at Wimbledon! Great to see the Qdos Family again- Michael & Kathryn Harrison with little Alfie, and Jonathan Kiley- A day to catch up with Peter Tod, a man who has run many major theatres- The Alhambra,Darlington, The Birmingham Hippodrome.. Carole Todd and Roger Hannah- Carole Directed and Roger Choreographed several of our Cinderella Pantomime seasons- and catching up with my mate Lesley Joseph and Ann Marie and Brian Conley.
Patrick Moloney and Linda Haydn.
There were speeches- marvellous funny speeches! Brian Conley started the balls in the air rolling with his introduction of Michael Harrison. Michael took over and delivered a hugely funny and irreverent “Turn” (too funny to be a speech) with a canny Paul Elliott impression or two, before introducing the man himself.
Michael Harrison. Brian Conley.
Jenny Seagrove . Bill Kenwright
There is too much to say about Paul in this piece- in his own words- “Read The Book!”. Available now. Its sixty years of a life in theatre- the shows he’s produced are legendary- so many- From Buddy- The Buddy Holly Story, Jolson (With Brian Conley and later Allan Stewart) Annie (With Lesley Joseph)Dirty Dancing, Stones In Their Pockets (a brilliant play- I loved it!) In this country, and on Broadway, through Private Lives (with Kim Catrall- a very good chapter that!) and Rock Hudson in “I Do, I Do”, Run For Your Wife in The West End For Years and Big Bad Man with Jimmy Edwards and Paul’s mate Eric Sykes- to David Suchet in The Last Confession.
Me enjoying the Pavlova, with AndrewRyan, Lesley Joseph (Thank you for the photos Lesley- you take a mean pic) and Michael Harrison.
Thank you Paul and Linda for a truly memorable and lovely family day- The book is a cracking good read, and you can buy it from http://www.theatre-shop.com in glorious hardback. It has a staggering listing of all of Paul Elliott’s Pantomimes with cast lists- I need a good glass of wine and a day just to go through those lists. I’m very proud to say a lot of Paul’s early panto programmes are safely stored in my drawers! They will I hope be added to the collecting that one day will heading for the V&A.
Paul- Thank you for those fabulous Pantomimes, and all the friends I made along the way!
At the risk of offending- and Im sure I will- I’ve written down all the people at Paul’s Party that I can remember. I think altogether a hundred and twenty theatrical folk were there- so I hope to add to this list as I get reminded. Apologies if I missed you out, please let me know! Here they are in random order!
LJ & Haydn Elliott
Ray and Linda Cooney
Duncan Weldon & Anne Sidney
Kathryn Harrison & Alfie
John De Lannoy
Carlos and Louis Candell
Anne Marie Conley
John De Lannoy