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Manchester Television & Film Celebrities

Jane Horrocks

Jane Horrocks - Actress

(Born 1964)
Born 18th January 1964 in Rossendale, Lancashire, Jane Horrocks first came to the broader public consciousness as 'Bubbles' in the "Absolutely Fabulous" television show, although she had already been acclaimed for her role in Mike Leigh's 1990 film, "Life is Sweet". In 1998, she appeared as the singing heroine in "Little Voice" with Michael Caine. In its wake and as a result of this success, the play "The Rise and Fall of Little Voice" was written especially for her.
Jane Horrocks grew up, the youngest of three children, in a working class home in Lancashire, where her mother was a ward aid in a local hospital and her father a door-to-door salesman. She went to the RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) and was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company but confessed to finding it "incredibly boring".
She currently lives with writer, Nick Vivian and their son, Dylan, and daughter, Molly. Jane's success as the timid singer in the award winning film "Little Voice" demonstrated a broader range than had been hitherto realised, and on the release of her debut album, "The Further Adventures of Little Voice" , she spoke publically about her lifelong love for music.
She also appeared for a time as the dippy computer, Holly, in the cult series, "Red Dwarf" , appearing with Craig Charles and Chris Barrie; she was also the voice of Babs in Nick Parkes' "Chicken Run" . As a successful character actress, she won great acclaim in "Bring Me The Head Of Mavis Davis" . In 2003-2004 season she appeared in Stephen Poliakoff's play "Sweet Panic" in the West End of London. She also appeared in the late 1990s TV advertising campaign for Tesco Supermarkets as a long-suffering daughter alongside fussy mother played by actress Prunella Scales. She also played the role of Gracie Fields in the film "Gracie ".

Eric Knowles

Eric Knowles - Antiques Expertt

(Born 1953)
Born in Nelson, Lancashire in 1953, (where his parents still live), Eric Knowles is a respected antiques expert, but has become a well-known television celebrity, largely through his regular appearances on the BBC's ' Antiques Road Show' . As a young man in the 1970s he worked in both engineering and for an antique shipping company. His love of antiques was inherited from his parents and in 1976 when he joined the London auctioneers, Bonhams as a porter in the ceramics department. By 1981 he had become head of that department and in 1985 he was offered a full directorship.
Eric is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts and a leading expert on European and Oriental Ceramics from 17th to the 20th century, of Tiffany and Lalique, and 19th and 20th century decorative arts. In 1992 Eric was responsible for setting up Bonham's offices in Bristol and later continued directing the Decorative Arts Department in the London branch. His numerous television appearances and credits include 'Crimewatch UK', 'Selling the Family Silver', 'Going for a Song', 'The Great Antiques Hunt', 'The Antiques Inspectors', 'It's a Gift' and 'You Can't Take It With You' , as well as cameo appearances on shows like 'Jim Davidson's Generation Game', 'Countdown' and the 'Jimmy Young Show' on BBC Radio 2. He has written many books on antiques topics such as Victoriana, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Royal Memorabilia and he remains a regular contributor to the BBC ' Homes and Antiques' magazine and other periodicals.
Eric has lectured extensively in the UK including at the Victoria and Albert and the British Museum in London, as well as lecturing in America and Canada. He is a patron of several charities and is an ambassador for the Prince's Trust. Eric reputedly also enjoys listening to 18th century music and jazz.

Jimmy Clitheroe

Jimmy Clitheroe - the Clitheroe Kid

(1921- 1973)
Born in Clitheroe, Lancashire in 1921, the diminutive little performer spent much of his early life in Blacko, near Nelson. Having begun acting in the local Methodist chapel for Sunday School concerts, Jimmy Clitheroe was to star in Variety shows, radio and television in a career spanning five decades from the 1930s to the 1970s. Affectionately known as "The Clitheroe Kid" , he starred with such variety show stars as Arthur Lucan (Old Mother Riley), George Formby, Frank Randle and Jewel & Warris. He also made two films for the Manchester Film Studios. Best known in the north of England, he was a long-standing regular in Blackpool 'end of the pier' variety shows, but gained wider popularity on radio and later in television shows.
In Blackpool he worked with the likes of Jimmy James and the up-and-coming comedian, Ken Dodd as well as appearing in pantomime with Tessie O'Shea. His final panto performance was in 1971. On radio in the mid-1950s, he was heard in Jimmy James's show "The Mayor's Parlour" and his own series, "Call Boy" , and, from 1957 his best known show, "The Clitheroe Kid" , which ran for a further 15 years.
From 1963 to 1968 he was performing on television with ABC Television's "That's My Boy" and "Just Jimmy" . In 1967, Jimmy Clitheroe made his last film, but continued to tour in Variety shows until his death in 1973. Jimmy never grew taller than 4 feet 3 inches and predominantly played a character role of an 11 year old schoolboy, complete with cap and blazer, even in old age - the boy who never grew up. See also:

Danny Ross

Danny Ross, The Oldham Comedian, The Clitheroe Kid
Danny Ross Image © 2006 Stephen Poppitt

Born in Oldham in 1931, the Lancashire comedian Danny Ross became most famous on radio, playing "daft Alfie" alongside Jimmy Clitheroe (above) in the long-running BBC radio comedy series "The Clitheroe Kid" .He was originally a stage actor. His first professional job was at Oldham Repertory Theatre as a 14-year-old character juvenile.
After national service he resumed acting and his qualities as a comic actor gained recognition playing alongside Arthur Askey and Glenn Melvyn in the hit stage comedy "The Love Match" , the 1953 summer show at Blackpool Grand. Its subsequent tour brought him his first West End appearance. He later returned to the Grand for five very successful summer seasons with Glenn Melvyn, including a record-breaking run in the comedy "Friends and Neighbours" in 1959.
The association with Arthur Askey led him into movies with the 1955 film version of "The Love Match" in which all the stage cast appeared in their original roles. He went on to appear with Arthur Askey in two further films, "Ramsbottom Rides Again" in 1956 (a spoof of the film 'Destry Rides Again' ), and the film version of "Friends and Neighbours" in 1959. But he's best remembered for his 13-year radio partnership with Jimmy Clitheroe, which began in 1960.
He was invited to join the established cast of "The Clitheroe Kid" , which was made in Manchester. As gormless Alfie Hall, he played the boyfriend of Jimmy's sister, and the butt of endless jokes. For five years he also played a similar role on television, in Jimmy's ITV comedy series "Just Jimmy" , which began in 1964. Danny Ross was always billed in the theatre as "the Oldham Comedian".
In appearance and comic style, he owed something to George Formby, an association which he fostered by performing songs associated with Formby, and appearing in the Formby role in a revival of the stage comedy "Zip Goes a Million" . When he made a pop record he included a Formby number, "The Old Bazaar in Cairo" , on the B-side. After the final television series ended in 1968, he returned to the theatre, playing in summer shows and pantomime in and around Lancashire.
His radio work with Jimmy Clitheroe continued until his the latter's death in 1973. Danny Ross was taken ill on New Year's Day 1976, en route to London with his manager to arrange a new show. He died of a heart attack, aged just 45, at Blackpool's Victoria Hospital six weeks later.

We are indebted to Stephen Poppitt & Sandra Skuse for this entry and for the photograph of Danny Ross. See their website:

Chris Evans

Chris Evans

(Born 1966)
Born in Warrington in 1966, Chris Evans was once regarded as the brightest and most promising Breakfast Show presenter on Virgin Radio, noted for his wit, his outlandish pranks and his total irreverence. His earlier jobs had included running a local newsagents shop, as well as his own Kiss-o-Gram and Private Detective agencies.
He began his broadcasting career at Piccadilly Radio in Manchester, but became known to a wider audience in 1992, as anchorman of Channel 4's new early morning programme, "The Big Breakfast" . He had already created a reputation as a witty prankster on the BBC London radio station GLR with 'Round at Chris Evans' .
In its day, The Big Breakfast even beat ITV's new breakfast station, GMTV, which had been launched in 1993, in the audience viewing ratings. Evans' style quickly turned him into a cult personality to a national celebrity.
Later he launched his own production outfit, Ginger Productions, responsible for his first prime-time TV show, the Channel 4 quiz "Don't Forget Your Toothbrush" . The format was sold around the world, bringing in funds to help him build up his media empire.
In 1994 he left the Big Breakfast and was recruited in the following year by BBC Radio 1 to present the breakfast show, and signed an 8-month contract reported to be at a salary of £1 million. The show was revitalised by Evans and by late 1996 listeners had increased to 7 million weekly. His style was frequently over-the-top, crude and sometimes offensive, though his liberalising influence dramatically changed the style of Radio 1, which hitherto a little safe and stuffy.
In January 1997, as a result of another debacle and demands to work a four-day week, Evans was sacked from Radio 1.
By now he was a very wealthy man, and his Ginger Media Group went on to purchase Virgin in late 1997 for £85 Million. Later it was sold on to the Scottish Media Group for £225 Million and Chris Evans was fired in June 2001 after failing to turn up for work 5 days in a row. His radio career came to an end after a very public three-day drinking binge, when he repeatedly failed to turn up to present his breakfast show. Subsequently his £8.6 million damages action against Virgin for unfair dismissal was thrown out and the sacking was upheld. During the trial, Evans was described as a "binge drinker".
Recently, Chris Evans has tried his hand at TV production. His shows have included Boys and Girls, Live! and the Terry & Gaby Show .
In 2003, he was married to former pop star Billie Piper and the couple lived together in London, before their divorce in 2005.
Billie Piper went on to star in several television roles - in a BBC1 drama of Chaucer's 'The Miller's Tale', as the sidekick and supporting role to David Tennant in the "Doctor Who" series, and in the title role of the television version of "Fanny Hill". Chris is currently co-hosting BBC 1 Television's "The One Show".


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This page last updated 17 Dec 11.