Bobby Ball - Why I’m looking forward to performing at the Lowther Pavilion

PUBLISHED: 18:00 06 June 2014 | UPDATED: 18:00 06 June 2014

Bobby Ball and Tommy Cannon

Bobby Ball and Tommy Cannon

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Cannon and Ball celebrate 52 years in partnership with a special show in Lytham

“The Sherrel Brothers”, “The Harper Bros.” and “Bobby and Stevie Rhythm.” These are just some of the names that we may have known Britain’s longest serving comedy duo by today. And they may not have

even been a duo at all as they first started life as singers in “The Stan Moores Trio” with Stan Moores playing piano. But with change in direction came the change in name. From musical three piece to musical duo and then as humour started to play a major part in their act they became a comedy duo. It was shortly before one particular performance that Bobby and Tommy were pressured into

confirming their stage name. They toyed with “Cannon and Short” and “Cannon and Small” before, reluctantly, deciding on “Cannon and Ball”.

Reluctantly, because as Bobby describes, “There was no way I was going to call myself Mr Ball. In the end I agreed to do it just for that

time if I could change it again later. Well, the rest is history.”

This year marks Cannon and Ball’s incredible 52nd year in comedy as a double act and the Lowther Pavilion in Lytham will be hosting “An Audience With Cannon and Ball” on Sunday 21st September for the friends of Lowther Pavilion.

Bobby is no stranger to the Lowther Pavilion having performed his self-penned play “Rock Off, Tommy” there in February of this year with the help of the Fylde Coast Players drama group which really opened his eyes to the world of Amateur Dramatics. As Bobby recalls “I got talking to a member of the Fylde Coast Players when I was at the Lowther Pavilion and told them about the play I had written. They asked me if they could perform it to which I said, yes you could. Better still, me and Tommy could be in it! I told them they wouldn’t have to pay anything, but they had to do everything as Tommy and I could only make the last couple of days to rehearse. It really opened my eyes. They were fantastic. They were so committed to everything they were doing.”

It was after the show that Bobby decided they should put on “An Audience with Cannon and Ball” with all the profits going to the Friends of Lowther, an association put together to support the Lowther with all funds raised going to help improve the theatre. It was Bobby’s own way to say thank you.

With a career spanning 52 years there has been a lot of changes in the entertainment industry as I took time to discuss with Bobby. “Tommy and I live off sketches which will never change. But there is a difference between a comedian and a comic. A comedian will tell funny stories whereas a comic will tell jokes. There are not a lot of comics today as there were many years ago with people like Tommy Cooper and Max Wall. Your comedians of that era were people like Bob Monkhouse. There was no swearing back in those days either. The only time you would swear would be at a stag do as you didn’t want to offend the ladies!”

With changes in times come additional platforms to become famous with talent shows such as “The X Factor” and “Britain’s Got Talent” and the option for people to upload videos to the internet to be viewed by millions of people.

“We appeared on Opportunity Knocks and came last. I think a rat won it on the way back to the canteen playing the spoons or something!”

“The industry is a lot different today to what it was though. Nowadays you could put on a pair of jeans and a T-Shirt and get up in a comedy club and do it. In my day you couldn’t do that. You had to be smartly dressed, build up an act and then get out there and hope it would go down well. They’re not making stars anymore like they used to. Anyone can become famous if they really wanted to be.”

Bobby is no stranger to modern comedy programmes. His performances in TV series “Mount Pleasant” and “Not Going Out” with Lancashire comedian Lee Mack have proved his ability as a comedy actor and earned him a wealth of new admirers.

I asked Bobby what advice he would give to anyone wanting to make it in the entertainment industry: “Keep Going.” You’ll get knocked back a lot, but just keep going as slowly you’ll start to get better and better and better. You can’t be good right away; you’ve got to build it up. It’s like building a wall. The first bricks are great, then your second and third getting better.”

Bobby and Tommy’s story is one of passion, friendship and inspiration. They have had to fight to earn the popularity and longevity of a career they have now and it is true praise of their determination.

That determination to succeed at an early age proved to be the major turning point in Bobby’s life. Born and raised in Oldham he started working for an engineering firm called Boden Trailers. Bobby had approached the foreman and asked to become a welder. Welding back then was a considered trade and the foreman told him he was too old at eighteen to start going to college to learn the trade and told him to forget about it. That gave Bobby the drive to succeed. He worked during the day, went to night school three times a week and was also singing part-time, but three years later he was able to approach the same foreman with his City and Guilds certificate proving his qualification as a welder. Then he met a young man called Tommy Derbyshire. “I spent three years learning to weld and I only think I did it for about 12 or 18 months. Tommy and I were spotted when we were Semi Pro by a London agent who told us to pack in our jobs which we did, but he never found us any work! We didn’t want to go back to welding as failures so we got jobs working in dog kennels until the work picked up!”

“An Audience with Cannon and Ball” is a tribute to a comedy act that has kept us laughing for over half a century. The show is split in two parts with the first part being the Cannon and Ball show and the second part with Tommy and Bobby telling stories of their career in show business. The audience will also have the option of filling in a question card on the way into the theatre which they will answer during the second part.

It is show that they still tour all over the country and prove that, even after 52 years, they are still rocking on!

Tickets are available from the Lowther Pavilion online booking website –

www.lowtherpavilion.co.uk/index.php

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