Frank Randle was born in Standish in Wigan in 1901. He was a childhood friend of George Formby, (also a Wigan man), who later became his main rival. Randle was probably one of the best music-hall comedians of his day. Curiously, he always appeared on stage without teeth. His career began in 1916, when he appeared as an acrobatic with the stage name of Arthur Twist. His stage acts were distinguished by his wild, extravagant, cheeky dialogues, frequently filled with risqu� topics and bad language. Of course, none of this was permitted in his movies, where he appeared as an honest comic cheeky chappie. However, it was to be much later, in the 1930s, before he would achieve notoriety as a comedian and popular entertainer with his own touring company known as “Randle’s Scandals” . He was also a popular movie actor/comedian and starred as top of the bill regularly in summer season shows at Blackpool. During the early fifties his health declined and he died in Blackpool in 1957.
(1915-1982) Arthur Lowe was born in Hayfield, Derbyshire on 22 September 1915. He originally intended to join the Merchant Navy but his application was rejected because of poor eyesight. It was reported in his son’s memoirs that he worked for a time as a stagehand at the Manchester Palace of Varieties, though other authorities claim this to be without foundation. However, poor eyesight apart, he joined the army at the outbreak of the Second World War and served in the Middle East. It was here that he began to take part in shows for the troops. After the war, he became known for his character roles, making his debut at Manchester Repertory Theatre in 1946. He appeared on stage in many roles as well as in more than fifty films. By the 1960’s had begun to appear on television. Early roles included Leonard Swindley in “Coronation Street” . In 1968 he appeared in perhaps his best known role as the pompous and snobbishly incompetent Captain Mainwaring in the BBC’s “Dad’s Army” . Films followed, including “No Sex Please We’re British” and “O Lucky Man” . In 1977 he went on to such programmes as “Bless Me Father” and “Potter” . He also carried on working on the stage and films. He enjoyed sailing and lead a very active life until he died of a stroke in his dressing room in 1982 aged 66.
(Born 1924) Born Dora Broadbent on 7th February 1924 in Southport, Lancashire, (now Merseyside) Dora Bryan became a much loved, veteran character player, often in eccentric or lower-class roles. Her early stage appearances, many at the Oldham Coliseum, include “Stage Door, “No Room at the Inn”, “Peace in Our Time”, “Accolade”, “The Lyric Revue”, as Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and as the leading role in “Hello, Dolly!”. Many movies followed and she became a well known character and comic actress in British films, including the film of Shelagh Delaney‘s book “A Taste of Honey” (1961), “The Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery” (1966), and “Apartment Zero” (1989). She won a British Academy Award for her performance in the film “A Taste of Honey” and for her part in “She Stoops to Conquer” she won the Variety Club of Great Britain Best Actress of the Year Award. Many successful roles have followed, including “Pygmalion” with Peter O’Toole. She also won the Olivier Award for her performance in the National Theatre’s production of Harold Pinter’s “The Birthday Party” . She has been awarded an OBE and a Master of Arts degree from Manchester University. More recently she has appeared frequently in the BBC classic comedy series “Last of the Summer Wine” and in cameo appearances in “Absolutely Fabulous” , as well as continuing live theatre performances, pantomimes and plays. In September 2006, she was due to tour in the comedy “There’s No Place Like a Home” but had to withdraw because of her husband’s continued ill health.
(Bprn 1962) Terry Christian is probably best known (in the UK at least) as the presenter of Channel 4 Television’s “The Word” . This controversial late night live show ran from 1990 – 1995 and attracted a young cult following. Terry was born and grew up in Old Trafford just south of Manchester City Centre. It was in 1981,shortly after the Moss Side riots, that Granada TV decided to make a discussion programme entitled “Devil’s Advocate” involving 100 unemployed young people from inner city Manchester. He had already come to the attention of television companies, who had been impressed with the outspoken candour of his personal style, and they offered him the job of presenter. He had already been the BBC’s youngest presenter on Radio with the “Barbed Wireless” show and had won the Sony Award for it twice, in 1985 and 1986. Meantime he had also written a weekly column for the Derby Evening Telegraph and managed a couple of local bands. Successively he worked as a disk jockey and presenter on Key 103 Radio and Piccadilly Radio, where he was at the forefront of what came to be known as the “Madchester” scene. Terry was also writing in the Manchester Evening News on new music. He moved to Sunset 102 and also presented a weekday evening show on KFM , Britain’s first official independent music station. Other broadcasting roles have included “The Big City” for Carlton Television, “The Football Show ” for Tyne Tees and Yorkshire Television, documentaries for Granada TV and BBC North, “The Hothouse” and “G Spot” for Granada’s “Men & Motors” and S ky One Television’s “Backchat” , as well as presenting radio shows for Key 103, Red Rose, Signal, Metro and TFM. He is a regular contributor to the BBC’s “Heaven and Earth” . He has published two books to date, “Brothers – from Childhood to Oasis” (an account of the lives of Liam and Noel Gallagher of Oasis) and “Reds In The Hood” , a semi-autobiographical account of growing up in Old Trafford, where Terry has had a lifelong following of Manchester United Football Club (hence “the Reds”) and he frequently appears on the Manchester United channel MUTV and has his own “Terry Christian’s Sunday Worship” and regularly hosts the “Live From The Red Cafe Show”.
(Born 1971) Johnny Vegas was born Michael Pennington, the son of a carpenter from Thatto Heath, St Helens in Lancashire on the 11th September 1971. From a position of relative obscurity, Johnny Vegas came to public attention at the Fringe Edinburgh Festival in 1997, and he has subsequently become a major force in the contemporary comedy world. At Edinburgh he was given a Perrier Award nomination and won a contract with Channel 4 TV. His family were devout Roman Catholics, and initially Vegas had decided to train for the priesthood at Upholland School in Skelmersdale. But the harsh r�gime soon got the better of him and within 18 months he dropped out and went back to West Park School, St. Helens. Here he was to discover a lifelong passion for pottery, and went on to study Ceramics at Middlesex Polytechnic, though he graduated with disappointing grades and did not follow it as a career. Various mundane jobs followed, including waiting in a local pub for six months, and spending some time on unemployment benefit. In 1995 he entered the Channel 4 ” So You Think You’re Funny ” Contest and was markedly unsuccessful, though he was now convinced that he wanted to be an entertainer, and went on to work in northern clubs for two years, including the Citadel Arts Theatre in St. Helens, before making a public debut Edinburgh. His career has blossomed in live and television performance, and he has appeared on shows such as “The Comedy Store” , Reeve’s & Mortimer’s “Shooting Stars” and recently as a guest on Paul Merton’s “Room 101” and a regular panellist on the “8 Out of 10 Cats” quiz show. More recently he has appeared in “Bleak House” (2005), as Bottom in “ShakespeaRe-told” (2005), “Benidorm” (20072009), “Massive” (2008) as well as “Dave’s One Night Stand” in 2010 and “Celebrity Juice” in 2011.
(Born 1942) Ian McShane was born 29th September 1942 in Blackburn, Lancashire, though his family moved to live in Stretford (now in Trafford) in his early childhood. His father, Harry McShane, had been a professional football (soccer) player for Manchester United. When it became clear that Ian would never be as good a footballer as his father, he turned his attention to acting. After school he studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, alongside other “unknown” would-be actors like (Sir) Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt. By the time he graduated from RADA in 1962, he had secured his first film role in “The Wild and the Willing” . His stage debut also came in that year, as Charley in “Infanticide in the House of Fred Ginger” . Other roles quickly followed, including “How Are You, Johnnie?”, “The Easter Man”, “Loot”, and “The Promise” which took him to Broadway, where he appeared in “The Glass Menagerie” . His first starring film role, playing opposite Hayley Mills, came in 1966 in “The Gypsy Girl” . Later followed the great World War II epic, “The Battle of Britain” . In the 1970s and 1980s he played the title role in the BBC production of “Disraeli – Portrait of a Romantic” , as Heathcliff in “Wuthering Heights” (also for the BBC) and as Judas in Franco Zeffirelli’s “Jesus of Nazareth” . Other television performances, on both sides of the Atlantic, included: “War and Remembrance”, “Roots”, “Bare Essence”, “Perry Mason”, “Columbo”, “Miami Vice”, “Magnum PI”, and “Dallas” . In 1986 he was offered the leading role in “Lovejoy” , probably his most notable recent success, which became one of the most popular television series in Britain and by American fans when it was on a USA cable network. In November 1999 he appeared in the American TV movie “Babylon 5: River of Souls” .
He has been married to American actress, Gwen Humble since 1981. He has two children, Kate (born in 1971) and Morgan (born in 1975), from a former marriage to Ruth Post. For several years he commuted between properties in Los Angeles and England, but now lives in London, beside the River Thames. In September 2004 he made his first appearance in the western series, “Deadwood” on Sky Television. In 2010 he played a major role in the television adaptation of Ken Follett’s best-selling epic historical novel “The Pillars of Earth” for Channel 4.
(Born 1950) Born David Allan Kelly on 9 May 1950, Matthew Kelly’s first job after leaving school was as a bingo caller. Soon after he worked as an actor for many years in a large range of roles, from traditional variety shows to Shakespearean plays. After being seen in an ITV situation comedy, he was asked to appear in one of the “boxes” on “Punchlines “, a television panel game show, which led on to getting the job for “Game for a Laugh” along with Henry Kelly (LWT for ITV, 1981-5), followed by “The Sensible Show” (ITV early 1980s). He soon acquired a reputation as the take-over king of television, replacing Bruce Forsyth and Leslie Crowther as the host of “You Bet!” (LWT, 1988-96), “Hotel Getaway” (ITV 2000), and “Stars in their Eyes” . Other TV shows have included “You Bet”, “Holding the Fort” and “Relative Strangers”. He is currently also appearing in the BBC1 soap opera “Hollyoaks” . Recent theatrical roles have included “Mice and Men” at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, where he had previously played in “Twelfth Night” as well as playing Petrouchio in “The Taming of the Shrew” at the Stafford Festival. Many other live roles at Oxford, Watford and the York Theatre Royal. Late 2002 saw a dramatic downturn in Matthew’s fortunes when he was arrested on charges of alledged indecency, though happily he has been completely exhonorated and been able to continue working. Happily, his TV career is gradually beginning to recover from the unfortunate episode, and in 2007-2008 he took a leading serious role as sinister murderer Brian Wicklow in ITV1’s “Cold Blood” to both critical and audience acclaim. More recent performances have included Howard Barker’s “Victory: Choices in Reaction” , in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ” at the Lichfield Garrick and at London’s Trafalgar Studios, as Pandarus in Shakespeare’s “Troilus and Cressida” at The Globe in London as well as in “Comedians” at the Hammersmith Lyric in 2009. In January 2010 he appeared as Pozzo in Becket’s “Waiting for Godot” at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, and later in the same role at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne, Australia. In 2012 he appeared in a Jimmy McGovern play “The Shrine” as part of the Moving On television drama series.
(Born 1941) David Dickinson is the flamboyant presenter of “Bargain Hunt” , the most successful daytime BBC1 Television antiques programme with a regular audience of 2� million. He was born in Manchester in August 1941, and comes from a Franco-American background, with some Armenian ancestry in his family. He has become well respected for his broad expertise, his snappy dress sense, exuberant personality, wit and friendly charm. He began working in the antiques trade during travels with his wife, Lorne Lesley, a cabaret singer. While his wife entertained, Dickinson occupied himself with looking around local antique shops. In the mid-70s, Dickinson, with a partner, opened his first antique shop; while the partner served in the shop, Dickinson travelled around auctions and bric-a-brac shops looking for likely bargains. His shop has been successfully trading in Cheshire for well over twenty years. However, his television career only took off in the very late 1990s, when his qualities came to the fore in a documentary programme, “Modern Times” . This two episode documentary followed him as he went about his daily business as an antiques dealer, and as he prepared for a show at Olympia in London. He quickly established a name for himself as a charismatic television presenter and antiques expert on “The Antiques Hunter” show, followed briefly by appearances on Channel 5, before being invited to present “Bargain Hunt” on BBC1. His latest programme is “Dickinson’s Real Deal”. He lives in Cheshire and admits to having a deep passion for driving cars. The Dickinsons also have two grown-up children, Robert and Katriona.
(Born 1955) Manchester born on 23 June 1955, Maggie Philbin attended Manchester University to study drama with fellow classmates who included Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson (of “The Young Ones” and “Bottom” fame) and Ben Elton. Her television career took off when she replied to an advertisement in The Stage for a place on the hit “Saturday Morning Swap Shop” show which was hosted by Noel Edmonds – she was, in fact, the show’s first female presenter. While on this show she met her future husband, Keith Chegwin (“Cheggers”). From here she went on to co-presenting “Hospital Watch” , the first live television show of its kind reporting on the first ever ‘live’ caesarean birth. She worked on BBC 1’s “Tomorrow’s World” from 1982-1989. After her marriage to Chegwin in 1982 they briefly shared a roadshow called “Swaparama” , but when, in the early 1990s,Keith’s depression turned to alcoholism, the marriage ended and the pair divorced. She appears fairly infrequently nowadays on television from time to time in various guest roles, including “Call My Bluff” . Maggie enjoys riding and dining out. She also ran the London Marathon in 1994. She is still best remembered as a co-presenter of “Tomorrow’s World” , whose scientific style still makes her a popular celebrity speaker at technology awards and science fairs. In 2008 she created TeenTech an interactive science and engineering event for teenagers which in 2010 was awarded Best Engineering Event by the British Science Association. From 2007 she has been BBC News ‘face of technology on television, radio and online’. From December 2011 she launched the ‘Helping Hand Campaign’, encouraging digital switchover help for the elderly. She regularly reports on “Inside Out”