Manchester Television, Film & Broadcasting Celebrities
A local lad of wit and humour, known as the ‘Rochdale Cowboy’,
Mike Harding came with a ready line of comic songs accompanied
by the guitar, and he was a popular local radio presenter in
the 1970s and 80s, who still makes occasional appearances now
was actually born in Lower Crumpsall in 1944 into a working
class Irish Catholic family, though his father was killed in
the Second World War, before Mike was born.
a variety of menial and manual tasks before getting his degree
in English, and embarking on an early career as a playwright. His
first play “Fur Coat and No Knickers” broke
the box office at the Oldham Coliseum. He has written many successful
plays, but he is best known as a broadcaster and radio raconteur.
keen cyclist and rambler, he now lives in Dent in Cumbria and
works in studio recording from his converted barn home.
TV Comedienne, creator of television’s “Mrs Merton” ,
and now well known for her part in Paul Whitehouse’s
“The Fast Show” and in “The Royle
Family” , Caroline Aherne was born on Christmas Eve
in 1963 in Wythenshawe, the daughter of an Irish railway worker.
She attended the Hollies Convent Grammar School in West Didsbury
and then went on to the (then) Liverpool Polytechnic as a drama
student. She worked for a time as a secretary at the BBC in
Manchester where she met her co-writers Craig Cash and Henry
Normal. Caroline also has a cult following on the Manchester
live comedy circuits, and worked for a time with Cash on a pirate
radio station, where the character of Mrs Merton was developed.
a few shows, both Caroline and Cash were sacked, but their show
was picked up by BBC Radio 2, where the character was further
developed, and paved the way for her better known television
Born in 1889, this early film and radio comedic actor developed
his dotty schoolmaster characterisation on the basis of stories
told to him by his sister, a school teacher in Cheetham Hill.
His early years were spent working as an engineering apprentice
in his father’s company in Manchester, (though he had been born
In his spare time he learned French and German, and acted for
a time as an interpreter for the Calico Printer’s Association
in Manchester. He married his wife, Gladys Perkins at the age
of 19 (she was then 16) at a church in Higher Broughton. Success
in an audition at Manchester’s Palace Theatre gave him a year’s
paid acting work.
he met the then famous Fred Karno’s Army troupe e, joining them
in such 1930s movies as “Those Were the Days”,
“Boys will be Boys”, “Where there’s a Will” ,
and in the 1940s “The Goose Steps Out” and
“My Learned Friend” . Hay
was actually no mean scholar, either – he actually appeared
on the BBC’s “Brain Trust” , was a noted astronomer,
as well as a pilot. He died in 1949 aged 60 years.
Actor, often comedic, best known for his role in TV’s “Dalziel
& Pascoe”, but he has a long list of other appearances
to add to his CV: “The Manageress”, “Gone to
the Dogs”, “The Locksmith” and “A Respectable
Trade” amongst them, as well as his early appearance as
Dim in the film “A Clockwork Orange”.Born in 1948
in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, the son of a stained glass maker, Clarke
joined the Manchester Evening News straight from school, aged
15, as a copy boy. He soon moved onto amateur dramatics and
performed at Huddersfield Rep and the Liverpool Playhouse, before
becoming more serious and taking up acting as a professional
full-time career. He went on to perform at the Manchester Library
Theatre, Newcastle Playhouse, and began to appear in television
soap operas. In 1969, his career was well underway and he moved
to London. He now lives in Buckinghamshire with his wife and
(1905-1958) Popular 1930s and 40s Hollywood actor, best known for his role
in “Goodbye Mr Chips” in which he gave the definitive
performance. Born Fitzgerald Robert Donat in March 1905 at 42
Albert Road (later renamed Everett Road) in Withington, Manchester.
He attended the Central Grammar School for Boys and then studied
to go on the stage in Manchester. He appeared subsequently in
many repertory theatres, including Birmingham, Manchester and
Cambridge and London’s West End.
His big movie opportunity came with a part in the 1932 version
of John Buchan’s “The Thirty-Nine Steps” , later in
“The Citadel” and “The Count of Monte Cristo”
. But he is best remembered as Mr Chips, whom he modelled on
one of his own old schoolmasters.
Ill health and chronic asthma meant that he only ever appeared
in 19 films, and actually needed an oxygen mask between takes
on the filming of “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness”
, in 1958, his last film, as he died, at the age of 53, within
days of its completion.
Another local comedian, very popular on TV in the 1970s, who
has performed solely in his own Embassy Club since the decline
in the popularity of his rather racist and rude act.
Born in Ancoats in 1930 and brought up in Faulkener Street in
Blackley, he sang in the school choir and began as an entertainer
with impressions of George Formby. Joined the Oldham Empire
as a singer at £15 a week. He later persuaded his father
to help him buy the old billiard hall on Rochdale Road in Harpurhey,
which he opened as the Embassy Club in 1959.
Short of cash he looked for young rising stars who only commanded
low pay rates – Mike Yarwood, Matt Monroe and Jimmy Tarbuck
all began their careers at this venue. Came to more general
notoriety when he appeared on Granada Televisions “The
Comedians” in the 1960s. Bernard recently retired due to
ill health and his son, Bernard junior has taken over at the
club. Bernard Manning is also chairman of Radcliffe Football
Bernard Manning died at the age of 76 on Monday 18 June 2007
at North Manchester General Hospital where he was being treated
for a kidney condition.
Inspector Reagan in “The Sweeney” in the 1970s, “Kavanagh
QC” in the early 1990s to “Inspector Morse” in
the late 1990s – John Thaw pursued a most celebrated career
as a British television actor. A one-time potato porter in Manchester’s
Smithfield Market, Thaw was at one time the highest paid actor
on British television, earning a reported £50,000 per
hour on set. Born in 1942 in Longsight, the son of a lorry driver,
his family later moved to Burnage, where Thaw had his first
acting experience at a Burnage Community Association party.
Having done badly at school, he succeeded in raising an LEA
grant to study at the RADA stage school, from whence he never
looked back. He was married to the actress Sheila Hancock. Shortly
after his last television appearance in “Goodnight Mr Tom”
he died, sadly, and much loved, in February 2002 after losing
a long battle with cancer. His full official biography is available
at the website: https://johnthaw.topcities.com/johnthaw/
Harry H Corbett
Best known as Harold Steptoe in the 1960s and 70s TV series
“Steptoe & Son” , Corbett was actually born in
Burma in 1925, but when his mother died he was sent back to
England (aged three) to be brought up by an aunt in Ardwick.
Later, inspired by a favourite teacher at Sharston Senior School,
he wrote his first play before leaving school at age 14. A series
of dead-end jobs ensued, grocer’s delivery boy, plumber, male
nurse, car sprayer, until he joined the Chorlton Repertory Company
at the age of 23, and later the Theatre Workshop Company in
Manchester working under Joan Greenwood. He appeared in many
comedy films, including the “Carry On” series, “The
Bargee”, “Crowns and Coronets” and “The
Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins” . In 1962 he auditioned
and got the role in a “one-off” play called “Steptoe
& Son”. It was such a success that the series ran on
television for 13 years. He was named Actor of the Year in 1962.
He died of a heart attack in 1982 aged 57.
Born in Bolton, Fred Dibnah came into public notoriety when
a local BBC Television broadcast had included a news item showing
him gilding and installing the topmost finial of Bolton Town
Hall. His earthy cloth-capped common-sense attitudes, personable
‘old world’ philosophy, love of all things mechanical (and particularly
steam engines), and his unashamedly workingman charm, immediately
endeared him to millions of viewers, and he became an overnight
national celebrity. Actually, by training and trade, Fred was
a joiner, but he is now probably best known for felling chimney
stacks. His new-found celebrity status was confirmed in 1979
when he was invited to take part in the making of an hour long
television film series about people with unusual occupations.
The film won two awards and was entitled was called “Fred Dibnah
– Steeplejack”. Several other TV series have followed, covering
various topics, including his work as a steeplejack, the restoration
of his steamroller and various industrial archaeology programmes.
Another less celebrated series covered Fred’s divorce and the
effects of being a television personality. In 1994 the BBC released
a book called “The Fred Dibnah Story”. Other independent videos
have been subsequently released, on topics close to his heart,
including “The Ups and Downs of Chimneys” and “All Steamed Up”
illustrating his devotion to his many steam restoration projects.
As a result of his considerable experience and expertise in
steam restoration, which is really his first love, he was asked
to undertake a major restoration project at Glynllifon Parc,
Caernarfon, where the restored steam engine and boiler won a
In 1996, Fred divorced his second wife Sue, mother to sons Jack
and Roger. In 1998 he married Sheila Grundy from Blackpool.
In his latter days he made a series of six programmes with a
working title called “Fred Dibnah’s Industrial Tour of Britain”
and an accompanying book and set of videos followed.
In the Queen’s new Year’s Honours List in 2004 he was awarded
the MBE for his services to our industrial heritage.
With the onset of cancer he cancelled all engagements in September
2004 after he was taken ill during filming his last television
series, “Made In Britain” . Fred Dibnah lost his fight
with prostate cancer only weeks after filming this final television
series, and died peacefully at 12 noon at Bolton Hospice on
Saturday 6th November 2004 aged 66. He was surrounded by friends
and members of his family. Fred’s final wish was that his beloved
traction engine “Betsy” should carry his coffin, as
he said he would like this. His final 12 part television series
was broadcast in 2005. Fred Dibnah’s signature television programmes
are regularaly shown on cable and satellite television channels.