(Born 1968) Jon Culshaw was born in 1968 in Ormskirk, Lancashire, the youngest of three children to parents Jim and Theresa Culshaw. He first discovered he had a talent for mimicry in the school playground, and used his talent as a defence against bullying. Best known now probably for his TV and Radio show “Dead Ringers” as well as “2D TV” . He has a repertoire of more than 350 impressions, including Michael Parkinson, Tony Blair, Dale Winton, Gordon Brown, Michael Buerk, Graham Norton, John Humphrys, Desmond Lynam, Ozzy Osbourne, Brian Perkins and Billy Connolly, and is regarded by many to be currently the best impressionist in Britain. He is also an after-dinner speaker and is much sought-after for personal appearances. While studying at Kent University he began writing and directing student revue shows, as well as providing jokes for Radio 4’s hilarious news satire “Weekending” , as well as doing a few gigs in London to small audiences. He also did a few Edinburgh Festival appearances with little result. But, his professional career began for real in 1993 with BBC Radio 1’s “Talent ’93” show which was featured on the “Steve Wright In The Afternoon” programme. His next big break came when he went on to join the team of impressionists on “Spitting Image” where he provided innumerable voices to characters including Frank Bruno, David Frost, Michael Portillo, President Bill Clinton, Liam Gallagher and many more. Other TV appearances have included ” They Think It’s All Over”, “Never Mind the Buzzcocks”, “Call My Bluff” and “The Big Stage” . He also collaborated in writing with Harry Hill on “Harry Hill’s Fruit Corner” . He hit the headlines in 1998 after making a hoax call to Prime Minister Tony Blair, while pretending to be William Hague, the then leader of the Conservative Party. His Radio 4 series “Dead Ringers” won the Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Radio Programme in 2000, the Sony Gold Radio Academy Award for Best Comedy Show and the British Comedy Awards 2001 for Best Radio Comedy. The show has won no fewer than six major comedy awards since it began in 2000. ITV recently commissioned Jon’s own Special “Alter Ego” programme, which received rave press reviews. Other recent Culshaw credits include “It’s Been a Bad Week” , “The Impressions Show ” and “Chris Moyles Drive”.
Mike Leigh OBE
(Born 1943) Film director Mike Leigh was born on 20 February 1943 in Salford, the grandson of a Russian portrait miniaturist who had migrated to Britain in 1902. His father was a doctor, and had changed the family name from Lieberman to Leigh. Mike had attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London where he briefly studied acting, and then went to Camberwell School of Art, the London International School of Film Technique, and the Central School of Art and Design, before beginning work in experimental theatre for the BBC. His early television play, “Abigail’s Party” , which starred his ex-wife Alison Steadman in the leading role, was performed later live at the New Ambassador’s Theatre, where it was nominated for a 2003 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for ‘Best Revival of 2002’. He and Steadman had married in 1973, but the marriage ended in divorce in 2001 – they have 2 sons, Leo and Toby. Leigh is best known for a handful of internationally acclaimed features, including “Naked,” “Life is Sweet”, “Vera Drake” and “Secrets and Lies” . Most typically, his work has depicted the superficially uneventful lives of ordinary people. At Cannes, he won Best Director laurels for “Naked” in 1992, and the Palm D’Or for “Secrets and Lies” . He is an Associate Member of RADA. His numerous prestigious awards include the George Devine Award (1973), Best Comedy awards for stage play ‘Goose-Pimples’ (1981), a BAFTA Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cinema (1995). In 1993 he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
(1933-2003) The diminutive 4 foot 9 inch tall actor Don Estelle is probably best remembered for his role as gunner “Lofty” Sugden in the (now politically incorrect) 1970s BBC television series, ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ . Born in Manchester in 1933 and educated in nearby Darwen, (whence he had been evacuated during the war), he became a boy soprano at Holy Trinity Church (which later became St Peter’s). After the war he returned to Manchester and sang at St Mary’s Church in Crumpsall. He first appeared on the stage with a local charity group, the Manchester Kentucky Minstrels. After he had embarked on a singing career in clubs in the north of England, he met Windsor Davies and joined him in a double act which toured theatres and clubs nationally for four years. Despite a flourishing acting career, Estelle saw himself first and foremost as a singer – and made several appearances on ‘Top Of The Pops’ . His fortunes had changed for the better when he happened to meet Arthur Lowe, (Captain Mainwaring of BBC1 TV’s ‘Dad’s Army’ fame), while both of them were at Granada Television’s studios in Manchester. Lowe suggested an approach to the ‘Dad’s Army’ producer David Croft, as a result he was given a cameo role in the long-running television comedy series. After that, Estelle became the obvious choice to play the role of Lofty in ‘It Ain’t Half Hot Mum’ . Along with Windsor Davies, who played the rough-tongued sergeant major in the show, he sang for the solo record ‘Whispering Grass’ , which reached Number 1 in the BBC charts in June 1975 and remained in the hit parade for three weeks, eventually selling more than a million copies. Estelle and Windsor later followed it with the album ‘Sing Lofty’ , which proved to be one of EMI’s top 20 best-selling albums. He featured in many television programmes including ‘The Benny Hill Show’, ‘The Good Old Days’, ‘The Basil Brush Show’, ‘The Ronnie Corbett Show’, ‘The League Of Gentlemen’ and ‘ A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ . His many radio appearances included in ‘ Music From the Movies’, ‘The Brian Matthew Show’, ‘The Charlie Chester Show’, ‘The John Dunn Show’, ‘Pete Murray’s Open House’, ‘The David Jacobs Show’, ‘The Jimmy Young Show’ and ‘The Terry Wogan Show’. He also appeared regularly in seasonal pantomime and summer shows, and he toured extensively for concerts in New Zealand and Australia. His autobiography was published in 1999. Don Estelle died on the 1st August 2003, and was survived by his wife Elizabeth.
(19945) Jimmy Cricket was born James Mulgrew on the 17 October 1945 in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, into an Irish family of four brothers and one sister, whose father was an undertaker, for many years comedian Jimmy Cricket has been a resident of Rochdale. After leaving school at sixteen and he worked for 2 years in a betting shop, before going on to work as a Redcoat at Butlin’s Holiday camp at Mosney in County Meath for the Summer Season of 1966. This was followed by stints at other Butlin’s Holiday Camps, including Clacton where he developed his distinctive comedy style. For several years he was forced to work as a door-to-door salesman around the pubs and clubs of the North to make ends meet. However, his fortunes began to change in 1972 when he became a Blue coat at Pontin’s Holiday Camps at Southport and Morecambe, where he was to meet his future wife, May. They were married in 1974. After years performing in Northern Clubs his hilarious Irish comic logic came to the attention of television producers, and he eventually reached the second finals of ‘Search for a Star’. Following upon this success he was to appear before HRH The Princess Margaret on ITV’s Royal Gala Show ‘A Night of Hundred Stars’ from the National Theatre. His television career had begun and he was now known to a very wide audience. Over the next few years he made regular appearances on television and radio, and eventually was given his own TV series by Central Television, as well as his own radio series for BBC Radio 2. Although he is nowadays rarely seen on television, he has continued with live shows and appearances, where his cheeky Irish humour has made him popular on the after-dinner circuit. Jimmy and his wife have two sons – Dale and Frank, and two daughters – Jamie and Katie.
(Born 1970) Katie Derham is the 1970 Stockport born television and radio presenter and arts editor of ITV News and is a well known face on national television for her news presentations and reportage. She also presents the relaunched ITV London News flagship bulletin, ‘London Tonight’. She spent her early professional years with the BBC, where she first worked as a researcher on Radio 4’s “Moneybox” programme. She then had many different roles, working her way through the BBC, starting in radio as a secretary, working up through radio business programmes as a researcher, and later as a producer In 1995 she won the Bradford and Bingley ‘Best Personal Finance Broadcaster Award’ for her work as a presenter on the Radio 5 “Moneycheck” programme. She also edited Radio 4’s ‘Financial World Tonight’ programme and in 1996 became a consumer affairs correspondent. Subsequently she became a reporter for Barry Norman on his “Film ’96” and “Film ’97” television series. She moved on to join ITN in 1998 as Media and Arts correspondent, a position she held for the next 5 years, and she has been presenting the ITV News since 1999. She was voted ‘New TV Talent of the Year’ in March 1999 at the Television & Radio Industries Club (TRIC) Awards. She has anchored at many major television events, including ITV’s General Election 2001 programme, coverage of the Gulf War conflict, the Queen’s Jubilee from the Mall; Edward and Sophie’s wedding; Millennium night at the dome in Greenwich, as well as reporting on the Oscars and Baftas every year for ITV News. She has also hosted the Classical Brit Awards from the Royal Albert Hall for the past three years. More recently she has presented a weekly radio show for Classic FM Radio. Katie has a BA (Hons) in Economics from Magdalene College, Cambridge, and is married with one daughter, Natasha. She lives with her family in West London.
(1922-1968) Ted Lune is probably best remembered for his part as Private Leonard Bone in the very popular Granada TV comedy show, “The Army Game” , which ran for several years in the late 1950s and last showed in 1961. Born in Ainsworth in 1922, his real name was Harold Garnett and it is supposed that he took his stage name from the River Lune which runs through north Lancashire. He was known for his distinctive goggle eyed expression which became his signature gimmick. He had left school at the age of 15 and served an engineering apprenticeship at Thomas Ryder and Son Limited of Bolton, before his show business career began with him doing specialty comedy monologues at works socials. He was already well known in the Bolton area as “the Lad from Cocky Moor” before he turned professional in 1947. His big opportunity came with “Variety Fanfare”, a radio show in the 1950s. On the strength of this success he was offered his own programme, called “Get Lune” . After the failure of his first marriage to Florence, he married an entertainer called Valerie Joy, and thereafter went to live down south. Greater fame came to him with his appearance in “The Army Game” , (which included Michael Medwin, Alfie Bass, Charles Hawtrey, Bernard Bresslaw, Bill Fraser and Dick Emery in the cast). In 1959 he made a guest cameo appearance as a dishwasher in the film “The Lady is a Square” , which starred Frankie Vaughan. He also appeared with Morecambe & Wise in BBC Television’s “Double Six” , a fast-running standup comedy and revue show which ran for just 5 episodes in August and September 1957. Ted Lune died in 1968, aged 46, after a long illness.
(Born 1939) Jim Bowen, a former headmaster, was born in 1939 in Accrington, Lancashire and is best remembered as a northern comedian and compere of the ITV television game show, ‘Bullseye’. He attended Accrington Grammar School and was a teacher at Hyndburn Park School in Accrington for 10 years. It was while teaching that he became involved with the local Dramatic Society and developed an interest in showbusiness. For much of the 1960s he worked as a part-time stand-up comedian on the Northern Club circuit. But it was the new Granada TV’s ‘ The Comedians’ show that presented him with an opportunity to gain a wider audience on National Television, and he left teaching to make his fortune in world of entertainment. Subsequently he appearanced on several other TV shows, including “The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club” , “Up For the Cup”, ” Starburst” , “Summertime Special” and “Noel’s House Party” . He also appeared on “Celebrity Squares”, “Pebble Mill”, “Family Fortunes” and “Des O’Connor Tonight”. But it is, of course, for his masterly control of the “Bullseye” TV game show, for which he will probably be best remembered – a show which he hosted for fifteen years to audiences of more than twelve million. From 1999 to 2003, Bowen worked for BBC Radio Lancashire, presenting “The Happy Daft Farm “, a popular live morning magazine programme. However, his radio career was prematurely curtailed and he retired from showbusiness after making a racially offensive comment to a black woman on live radio. Jim was deeply apologetic and claimed that he had meant no offence, but realised that it was time for him to retire at last. He now is a regular and popular guest after dinner speaker.
(Born 1980) Warrington-born singer and TV presenter, Kerry Katona, who is better known by her stage name of Kerry McFadden, found fame singer as part of the pop girl band ‘Atomic Kitten’ in 1991. However, she gave up her pop singing career in 2001when she was pregnant with her first child. Kerry was married to Bryan McFadden from boy band ‘ Westlife’ in January 2002. Since leaving Atomic Kitten she and Bryan have two children, Molly and Lily-Sue. Nowadays, Kerry presents the occasional television game show. She hosted the new ITV dating game “Elimidate!” which was failed and only ran for 6 episodes. In late 2002 she co-hosted ITV’s ‘ Britains Sexiest’ alongside Micheal Greco. She then went on to be a judge in the Irish Series of ‘You’re a Star!” . In 2003 she became a regular host on ITV’s daytime television show, ‘Loose Women’. In 2004 she appeared in the third series of ‘I’m a Celebrity – Get me out of Here’ and was voted ‘Queen of the Jungle’. She has also been a model and a lap dancer. Recently Kerry and Bryan have divorced.